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Welcome to the smartest café in town. Volunteer kids seem to know anything you ask about orphaned orangutans and skitty kid elephants, 'cause that's what the IMAX movie Born to be Wild is all about, here at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Not only that, but here at Galileo's Café (1875 El Prado), Larry Kamm, the customer behind me, built -- get this -- the first artificial heart-lung machine used in surgery in San Diego. His T-shirt reads "E=IZ, F=MA," and "LAW." Hmm.

He's buying an Asian Chicken salad for himself ($5.50) and a garden salad for his wife Edith ($3.75). "This is the best restaurant in Balboa Park," he says, "and we've been to them all."

Price-wise, for sure. I'm jes' having a fair-trade organic coffee ($1.49 small) and a Danish ($1.95), but as soon as I'm out of the Nat'ral History museum, across the fountain, I'll be back for a turkey dawg ($2.50).

That's what Juan Asuna, who's standing behind the counter, putting up with my umming and aahing, recommends for someone light on spare change.

And those codes on Larry's tee? "E=IZ means 'voltage = current, times impedance," he says. "That's the basic equation in electrical engineering."

And F=MA?

"Force = mass times acceleration, the basic equation in mechanical engineering."

And LAW?

"That means, uh, 'law.' I'm a forensic engineer. I examine engineering accidents for court cases."

As I say. This is where the smart people chow down.

Pictured: View from the fountain; door reflections; Larry and Juan.


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