Archive for the ‘General interest’ Category.

Aldo’s Diary

I set out to write a novel, and ended up with this short story draft. Thanks to Mary Collins for some editing. Comments most welcome.

ALDO’S DIARY by Frank Morgan

“Mom, Penny beat me at chess.” Penny’s mother, Elizabeth Murrow, stopped loading the clothes washer and stopped thinking about triangles in the hyperbolic plane.

“Penny?”

“Yes, I did — I beat Aldo at chess. And he’s two years older than me.”

“But I thought you said you weren’t any good at games.”

“I didn’t think I was.”

“Aldo, did you let her win?”

“She forked my king and my rook.”

“Penny, you forked his king and his rook?”

“Yes, I planned it, like Dad did to me last night. I attacked his king and his rook at the same time with my knight, and since he had to move his king, I got his rook.”

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Handicapped at College

T4322On crutches after a recent bicycle mishap, I’m getting a sense of what it’s like to be handicapped at college. Everything takes longer, it’s hard to get from one event to another on time, and you have to depend on other people. That last inconvenience, dependence on others, can be a blessing. Here at Berkshire Community College (where I’m spending part of my sabbatical)  I’m finding the kindness of others a source of much comfort and joy. When I arrived the first day on crutches, a student, already late for an appointment, took the time to help me up the banks of stairs from the parking lot and carried all my stuff for me. Security promptly provided me with more convenient handicap parking. My third example is one that few schools could match: as I stood in line at breakfast, wondering how I would get my tray to a table, President Ellen Kennedy appeared on her way to an appointment and carried my tray to my table for me. Continue reading ‘Handicapped at College’ »

Jean Taylor’s 70th at MoMath

Taylor_Jean_Jan02Friends, mathematicians, scientists, and the public celebrated the 70th birthday of distinguished mathematican Jean Taylor at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City, Saturday evening, September 6, 8-10:30 pm. It was Taylor who proved Plateau’s rules for soap bubbles. I wouldn’t miss it. You can register for $25 (additional donations completely optional and not specifically for Taylor celebration). There was also a little symposium of 5- to 15-minute talks 1 pm Saturday afternoon at the Courant Institute at NYU (photos thanks to Christina Sormani). See comments for well wishes.

Group Continue reading ‘Jean Taylor’s 70th at MoMath’ »

Isoperimetric Problems in Pisa

Enjoying a conference on isoperimetric problems in Pisa. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Continue reading ‘Isoperimetric Problems in Pisa’ »

Grand Hotel San Michele

I’m speaking at a CIME school at the truly Grand Hotel San Michele on the Italian coast, kindly organized by Alberto Farina and Enrico Valdinoci. The path from the hotel to the private beachclub is rather dramatic. It begins with a long descent down the front stairs and another long stairway under the highway.

BeachWalk01 Steps1 BeachWalk03

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Williams: Inclusive or Exclusive?

Which quote embodies the best of Williams?

1. “We are so fortunate and proud to be part of this exceptional group of brilliant and interesting faculty and students, the likes of which you’ll find nowhere else.”

2. “As a result of what we have been lucky enough to discover here, we are humbly eager to expand our boundaries and to respect, learn from, and share with everyone.” Continue reading at WilliamsAlternative.com

Academics Must be Williams’s Top Priority

This letter of mine appeared in the Williams Record May 7, 2014.

The April 16 Faculty meeting dealt with two important concerns of mine: the growth in administrative staff at Williams and student advising. During the short discussion periods, I had a chance to comment on the first but not on the second, though my first comment had been preparation for the second. In the senior administration, responsibilities have passed from the academic posts of Provost and Dean of the College, occupied by faculty, to new Vice-Presidents. The consequential challenge is to stay focused on academics as our top priority through an inclusive and democratic process. I think that such recent processes as the closing of dining halls and plans for dormitory renovations have paid too little attention to academic concerns through a more corporate decision process. My Opinion piece on “Decisions and Priorities” (May 5, 2010) elaborated on this point. On the other hand, I would like to commend Doug Schiazza, Director of Student Life, for his inclusive and open-minded work with his new student-faculty-staff Upperclass Residential Life Advisory Committee. The new CEP report on “Students Curricular Choices,” presented at the Faculty meeting, recommends “initiating a broader conversation about the value of the liberal arts” and proposes several mechanisms. I wanted to suggest a more natural and organic approach. My favorite sentence in the report says: “Is there something about a small liberal arts college that could encourage a more intimate and social space for learning that actually takes advantage of its uniqueness?” My answer is yes, the opportunities within the dining and residential systems, many such opportunities recently missed, but many more still ahead, if we vigilantly watch for them with academics always our first priority. That’s what I wanted to say but didn’t have a chance.

“Now that I have passed college Algebra, I can do anything”

Algebra can often seem like a insurmountable obstacle in education and career, but it’s never too late for the way to open up. At our friend Ed Burger’s inauguration as President of Southwestern College, I met Carolyn Holloway, who not only passed college algebra after 40 years, but found a new sense of possibilities in life. Here’s her story:

Life sometimes can interfere with progress toward a goal, but I never gave up on the dream. I completed my freshman year at Meredith College, Raleigh, NC in 1955………….and graduated in 2000 from Lyon College, Batesville, AR. The following are excerpts from my daily journal: Continue reading ‘“Now that I have passed college Algebra, I can do anything”’ »

Indian Science Camp

Bangalore12I just had a great time at the amazing conference for 800 top Indian high school science students. Here I provide some contacts and information for my young new Indian friends and all; some pictures, including some wonderful pentagonal tilings I found on the path to the Guest House, the ever busy and calm organizer Kaushal Verma, and my student host Devang Rammohan, who met me at the airport at 5 am and took me back at midnight. I’m grateful to all the organizers and participants for their role in this inspiring vision of the future of science in India and beyond. Continue reading ‘Indian Science Camp’ »

Geometry and PDEs in Barcelona

Sixty mathematicians and students gathered in Barcelona at the Center for Research in Mathematics CRM for a Conference on Qualitative and Geometric Aspects of Elliptic PDEs, proficiently organized by Xavier Cabré, Daniele Castorina, Manel Sanchón, and Enrico Valdinoci.

Barcelona01

In my talk I mentioned a new isoperimetric theorem by Xavier Cabré and his students Xavier Ros-Otón and Joaquim Serra, which they describe in this video. Continue reading ‘Geometry and PDEs in Barcelona’ »