Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Exploring the magic of science

Like any good magician, chemical engineering professor Richard Register allowed his audience to inspect his props – a plastic cup, a tiny scoop of white powder, and a container of water – before beginning his routine. Register added the powder to the cup and poured in some water, nearly filling the cup to its brim. Moments later, when the powder soaked up the water, forming a dense gel, he held the cup upside down and began explaining the properties that enabled the powder, an absorbent polymer called sodium polyacrylate, to do its impressive work. Sodium polyacrylate has several uses in commercial products, he added, most notably in diapers.

Register’s audience, in this case, was a cluster of wide-eyed middle school students attending Princeton’s Science and Engineering Expo (SEE) March 22. The program, now in its fourth year, attracts about 1,000 students from local schools who learn about interesting applications of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering from faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and experts from industry and other universities. Daniel Steinberg, the outreach director for the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, said that the expo aims to “reinvigorate” an interest in the sciences that sometimes wanes during students’ middle school years.

At the 50 tables, or “exploration stations,” inside Dillon Gymnasium, the students found plenty of hands-on examples of science and engineering at work. They carefully folded paper airplanes, trying to create designs that would stay in the air as long as possible (one student set the standard with a flight time of 7.68 seconds). They stood in their socks while measuring the coefficient of sliding friction of their sneakers. They built batteries powered by the acid of lemons, tasted ice cream made with the aid of liquid nitrogen, and saw models of the Mars rovers, courtesy of NASA’s educational outreach group. Students also visited Princeton laboratories. In the photo above, eighth-grader Janhavi Gawde, left, received tips from chemistry major Sebastian Urday ’08 while working on an experiment at Frick Lab.

PLOrk, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, set up four laptops attached to a central bank of speakers at the Dillon Gym expo site – enough for a “chamber ensemble,” according to Ge Wang, a graduate student in computer science. PLOrk members stayed nearby to answer questions, but for the most part they let the tech-savvy youngsters make their own music. “We didn’t have to teach them much,” Wang said. “They just sit down and start jamming.”

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Back on the diamond

The Princeton baseball season reaches full swing this week as the Tigers begin their home schedule with a March 28 game against Rutgers and host Brown in a pair of doubleheaders to open the Ivy League season March 31 and April 1. Princeton already has played 14 games, all on the road. The Tigers were swept by Houston in three games, went 1-2 in three-game sets against Elon, UNC-Greensboro, and Longwood, and picked up another win in two games at Davidson.

Princeton, the defending Ivy champion, returns four pitchers who have significant experience as starters in league games: Christian Staehely ’08, Eric Walz ’07, Gavin Fabian ’07, and Michael Zaret ’07. Catcher Sal Iacono ’07 (.411 batting average, 13 runs batted in) and left fielder Greg Van Horn ’10 (.388 batting average, 15 runs scored) have led Tigers at the plate so far this year.

More at PAW Online

Under the Ivy – It’s the bicentennial of the Great Riot of 1807; Gregg Lange ’70 describes what happened in his Princeton history column.
On the Campus – P.G. Sittenfeld ’07 writes that for some students, February meant Mardi Gras in New Orleans; for others it meant ice skating on Lake Carnegie.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Coaching change for men’s basketball

After posting two losing seasons in three years as Princeton’s head coach, Joe Scott ’87 has decided to leave the Tigers to become the men’s basketball coach at the University of Denver, according to news reports from the Associated Press and The Times of Trenton. Scott “gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to Princeton basketball,” athletics director Gary Walters ’67 said in a statement to the AP. “Unfortunately, it might not have worked out the way he had hoped. We wish him the best at Denver.”

Scott, who worked as an assistant coach at Princeton under Pete Carril and Bill Carmody, got his first big break in college coaching in Colorado, where he led a remarkable turnaround at the Air Force Academy. In 2003-04, his Falcons won 22 games (then a school record) and reached the NCAA Tournament. But his time at Princeton was marked by a series of low moments, including a December 2005 game against Monmouth in which the Tigers managed to score just 22 points; a loss to Division-III Carnegie Mellon, also in December 2005; and a last-place finish in the Ivy League in 2007. His teams were 38-45 in three seasons.

Last blast of winter?

Bill Pierce, left, and Brian Pinney of the University grounds and building maintenance department shovel snow March 17 from the steps of Blair Arch after a late-winter storm dumped a mix of snow and sleet on the campus.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Athletes break for warmer climes, fencers head to nationals

Baseball in North Carolina, men’s golf in Arizona, softball and women’s golf in Florida, and women’s and men’s tennis and women’s water polo in California. It can only mean one thing: Princeton’s spring break has arrived.

But while the spring-season Tigers start their schedules in warm sunshine this week, a handful of winter-season competitors will wrap up their year in New Jersey, not far from campus. Seven fencers will compete at the NCAA Championships at Drew University in Madison, N.J., March 22-25. Sara Jew-Lim ’07 and Jocelyn Svengsouk ’10 will fence in the women’s foil and two-time All-American Erin McGarry ’07 and Jasjit Bhinder ’09 will compete in the women’s epee. Three Princeton men qualified for the national meet as well: Alejandro Bras ’07 (foil), Tommi Hurme ’08 (epee), and Thomas Abend ’10 (sabre).

Alumni in the news

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Robin Givhan ’86 of The Washington Post will receive the 2007 Eugenia Sheppard Award for journalism from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Women’s Wear Daily reported March 12. … Stephen Feinberg ’82’s company Cerberus was included in Fortune’s list of America’s top-10 private equity firms March 5. The magazine called Feinberg, Cerberus’ founder and principal, an “anti-elitist,” making note of his bare-bones office and his unpretentious mode of transportation, a Chevy pickup truck. … Gary Walters ’67, chairman of the NCAA men’s basketball committee, was in the spotlight when the committee announced the NCAA Tournament’s field of 65 teams March 11. This year included its share of perceived snubs, and Walters was asked at a press conference whether expanding the field might remedy the situation in future years. “I’m personally convinced that if we expanded the field, you would still have the same kind of issues that arise with regard to bubble teams who are either in or out,” he said. “People that are on this committee are committed to doing the best possible job they can. It’s a labor of love.” … March 15 marked the passing of Bowie Kuhn ’47, who served as commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1984. He was 80. Kuhn led the national pastime during a period of remarkable growth and fought, unsuccessfully, the rise of free agency. In Kuhn’s obituary, The New York Times wrote that he “viewed himself as a lifelong fan determined to uphold the integrity of baseball, promote competitive balance and enhance the game’s marketing, all the while bemoaning sharply rising salaries that he claimed imperiled the sport’s financial viability.”

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Crash through the lines of blue

“The Princeton-Yale Game Increases in Intensity,” a 6-foot-square quilt by Phyllis Kluger, was put on permanent display at the Frist Campus Center in the fall. Phyllis is the wife of Dick Kluger ’56, who wrote in the March 7 class notes: “It’s a great thrill for her (and me) that a large sample of her work will be within daily view on the PU campus, where we met 52 years back.”

Spring break on campus

Many of Princeton’s spring sport teams will be traveling south for Spring recess next week, but women’s lacrosse will be using the break from classes to host two key games in the friendly confines of Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers will face Penn State March 17 at 2 p.m. and play at home again March 21 against Loyola at 7 p.m. Holly McGarvie ’09 scored an overtime goal in Princeton’s first home game, March 3, as the Tigers edged Johns Hopkins 11-10.

Alumni in the news

New York Magazine profiled Richard Stengel ’77, the managing editor of Time magazine, in its March 12 issue. “Stengel has already given Time magazine a narrower and sharper editorial profile,” New York reported, “with more covers about war and politics than usual and almost no pop culture (Anna Nicole Smith didn’t make the cut) or soft social reporting (like the ever-popular Jesus Christ covers). … Jonathan Safran Foer ’99, author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was selected as one of the best American novelists under age 35 by Granta, a British literary magazine. Also on the list was Gabe Hudson, a visiting fellow and creative writing instructor at Princeton. … Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80 and colleague Thomas Wright, a senior researcher for the Princeton Project on National Security, examined the penalties for nuclear trafficking in a March 1 Washington Post op-ed piece. “Current efforts to close down the nuclear black market have an Achilles’ heel,” they wrote. “[C]ertain states will not cooperate and will even protect nuclear criminals.” Slaughter and Wright recommended making the trafficking of nuclear materials a crime against humanity, because it endangers so many people, and allowing the International Criminal Court to prosecute those involved in the crime.

The mystery next door

In Roberta Isleib ’75’s new book, Deadly Advice (Berkley Prime Crime), the author, a clinical psychologist turned mystery writer, draws on her own experience in private practice. The book is Isleib’s first in a new series based on the main character, Dr. Rebecca Butterman, a psychologist and advice columnist. When Butterman returns home to find her young neighbor, Madeline, dead by apparent suicide, she can’t believe that she missed the signs and can’t help herself from hunting for the truth. She finds Madeline’s blog, a chronicle of her dating adventures. When Butterman’s editor asks her to write a column on the modern singles scene, she retraces her neighbor’s steps into the dating world, looking for clue’s to Madeline’s death. Isleib has also written a mystery series based on professional golfer Cassie Burdette. For information about other books by alumni and faculty, visit New Books at PAW online.

Posted by W. Raymond Ollwerther '71, with reporting by Brett Tomlinson and Katherine Federici Greenwood.
Princeton Alumni Weekly

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hart critiques ‘crusader mentality’

Religious revivals have been common in the United States, former Sen. Gary Hart told an audience in Dodds Auditorium March 6, but except for Prohibition, no revival has been as politicized as the one that has taken place in the last 15 to 20 years. Hart, a Colorado Democrat and onetime presidential candidate, delivered a tough critique of the influence of the religious right on the Republican Party. He said that it represents a threat to separation of church and state, has co-opted dissent, and “flies in the face of the very basic principles” this country has operated under for 220 years.

Hart’s topic was “God and Caesar in America,” taken from the title of a 96-page essay he published in 2005. Hart said a blending of evangelical Protestant fundamentalists and political neo-conservatives resulted in a strong intensity of belief and “a position of political superiority.” This has had consequences both domestically and in foreign policy, Hart said, where it has led to “a crusader mentality, an avenging angel mentality” and the threat of creating “a religious empire.” Until recently, Hart said, he was afraid that the religious right’s ascendance was “a permanent change.” But the results of the November election and the collapse of support for the war in Iraq show that “America is beginning to wake up,” he said.

What we eat and what it means

There are patterns in the way we have consumed food, especially meat, throughout history, according to Ruth Reichl, the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and former restaurant reviewer for The New York Times. She spoke to a full auditorium in McCosh 50 March 6 as the J. Edward Farnum lecturer in the University Public Lecture Series. Food, Reichl said, reflects characteristics of society. As societies become wealthier, food becomes less recognizable. While our ancestors “tried to put animals right on the table,” Americans are consuming huge quantities of meat but “don’t want to see its form,” she said. What we’re eating is so disguised, she explains, that a simple muffin can be “a calorie bomb.” Reichl is the author of three books and a former restaurant owner.

Naacho takes the stage

Samira Farouk ’07, right, a member of the Indian dance troupe Naacho, performs during the group's appearance March 2 at the Frist Campus Center.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Skating farther, swimming faster

Princeton men’s hockey will face Dartmouth in Hanover this weekend in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Hockey League playoffs. Princeton’s last trip to the quarterfinals came in 1999. The Tigers, fresh off a third-period comeback win in the decisive third game of their series against Brown last weekend, fared well against the Big Green in the regular season, tying Dartmouth in Hanover Nov. 24 and winning 3-0 at home Feb. 10.

At this weekend’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, divers Stuart Malcolm ’07 and Michelle DeMond ’07 will compete in the platform events, and freshman standout Alicia Aemisegger will swim the 400-yard individual medley, the 500-yard freestyle, and the 200-yard breaststroke.

More at PAW Online

On the Campus – Christian R. Burset ’07 tells why the Undergraduate Honor Committee was giving out cheeseburgers and why a Chapel service ended with “Happy Trails.”
Under the Ivy – Do you have a copy of Carmina Princetonia? If not, find out what you’ve missed, as Gregg Lange ’70 recalls past editions of the Princeton songbook.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, with reporting by W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71 and Fran Hulette.
Princeton Alumni Weekly

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