Yesterday, I wrote, “I’ll be back in the office tomorrow, assisting with the last parts of our process before decisions are made final and mailed out on Friday!” It seems Mother Nature had other plans for me. I got to Dulles International Airport (designed by Eero Saarinen, who also designed MIT’s Kresge Auditorium and Chapel) and discovered that due to abnormally high winds and bad weather in the northeast, my flight had been cancelled and I’d have to stay overnight in Virginia. Of course, all of the hotels in the area were booked, but luckily some friends of mine were able to take me in on very short notice.
Eventually, I did make it back to Boston today, though I missed the day at work. I can tell you, though, that one of the things that was going on today relates to something MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest used to say.
At each year’s Freshman Convocation, President Vest would begin by saying, “You were not admitted by mistake.” (I don’t know if President Hockfield will do the same this fall) Vest could say that because of all of the checking, double-checking… n-checking protocols we have set up internally. So, I assure you, if you are among those who receive a “big envelope” in the mail, it’s not because we misaddressed it. I am not aware of anyone ever having received the wrong decision.
Tomorrow, I’ll answer a final round of questions before Friday’s expected mailing. And of course a full update on Friday about the progress of the mailing.
In the meantime, there were a few interesting stories in today’s issue of the Tech Talk newspaper. First, one about junior Danny Kanamori, who had a role in the movie “Coach Carter.”
During the film’s production in 2004, Kanamori stopped thinking of the actor as Samuel L. Jackson, famous actor, and started to think of him as Sam, friend and mentor. “Sam was such a great guy,” said Kanamori, who was surprised to find that Jackson was also impressed by him. “He was always asking me about MIT and making jokes about astrophysics,” Kanamori said.
For a little more than three months, Kanamori was called to the set almost every day, making new friends and great contacts. Though the few lines he had were left on the cutting-room floor, Kanamori is in nearly every scene.
Also, there was some coverage of the Nobel lecture I missed by Prof. Frank Wilczek.
“The picture modern physics provides is strange in many ways,” said Wilczek, who spent the first part of his hour discussing the 5 percent of the universe we do understand the matter comprising our bodies and other “ordinary matter” like stars and galaxies.
The other 95 percent of the universe is a mystery, composed of 25 percent mystical “dark matter,” which is only understood through its gravitational pull on ordinary matter, and 70 percent “dark energy,” which exerts negative pressure.
Wilczek presented two questions: “What is the dark stuff?” and “How do you think about such a question?” The rest of his talk focused on the quest to understand these mysteries, a task Wilczek believes might be accomplished by “demanding more beautiful equations.”
With so much left to understand, Wilczek looks forward to the continued creativity and hard work of his fellow researchers. “The world is very strange and very beautiful. We should admire it and be happy to live in it.”
Wilczek’s last quote is particularly appropriate to remember at this time of the year. No matter how things turn out for you when decisions are mailed, remember that we live in a beautiful world.
“The world is very strange and very beautiful. We should admire it and be happy to live in it.”
— Frank Wilczek