Here & There


SWINGING CROWD

About 400 men and women took free swing dance lessons from the MIT Ballroom Dance Team last week before strutting their stuff at the Fall Fling Swing Dance last Friday at the du Pont gymnasium.

The first MIT Fall Festival was "a big success, thanks to the work of program coordinator Rick Gresh and many students," said Katherine G. O'Dair, assistant dean for residence and campus activities.

The six-day celebration of community, diversity, service and fun at MIT opened on October 19 with Cultural Symposia (South Asia, Caribbean and Africa were featured) and an international film series. Festivities culminated with a Mini International Fair on Kresge Oval; a swing concert; a City Year Serve-a-thon all day on Saturday, Oct. 24; and Theta Playstation, Kappa Alpha Theta's service event to benefit CASA on Saturday night.

The Fall Festival was funded from a Provost's Office grant to Student Activities. Kartik Mani, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science, and Stuart Jackson, a junior in aeronautics and astronautics, co-chaired the community event.

"Fall Festival is an example of what can be achieved when a large number of organizations and people on campus work together, and I hope it will become an annual MIT tradition," said Mr. Jackson.

RIGHT-BRAINED

Actor James Woods (class of 1969) contrasted the challenges of his MIT education with the challenges of being an actor in an interview timed to publicize Mr. Woods' new movie, "Vampires," premiering Friday.

"AT MIT, we had a very Cartesian kind of background about how to solve problems and how to think rationally��������������������������� but then you have emotional responses," he told the Scripps-Howard News Service.

"I remember a question we had once: A guy walks up to a woman in a bar and she gives him a martini with an olive and toothpick in it. He looks at her and spins the toothpick like a gyroscope. The olive turns perfectly and finally falls over. And he takes out a gun and shoots her.

"Why? ���������������������������You had to prove from the angle of the momentum that, in fact, there was a microphone in the olive and she must be a spy. So he had to shoot her," said Mr. Woods.

By contrast, he said, in acting "you get to throw away the Cartesian side and go right-brained."

FUNDAMENTALS AND FATIGUE

Subra Suresh, the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering, has recently written two books in the general area of materials and their properties.

Fundamentals of Functionally Graded Materials, published this summer, is authored by Professor Suresh and Andreas Mortensen, a former MIT professor now at the ������������������cole Poly-technique de Federale de Laus-sane in Switzerland. Functionally graded materials feature gradual transitions in microstructure and composition. These transitions are engineered to meet performance requirements that vary with location within a single component and to optimize the overall performance. (See the February 11, 1998 issue of MIT Tech Talk for a story about Suresh's work with graded materials.)

Professor Suresh has also written the second edition of Fatigue of Materials, which came out last month. This book, originally published in 1991, has since been adopted as a textbook for undergraduate and graduate subjects as well as short courses by hundreds of universities and industries around the world.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has officially sponsored Chinese translations of both of these books, to be published in 1999.

POWER PLAY

"Deep-level understanding of batteries is still in its infancy. Batteries appear to be very simple, but there are multiple levels of complexity there," Professor Donald R. Sadoway of materials science and engineering told Design News Magazine in an October 5 cover story on the current state of electric cars.

In the story, which concluded that "the most critical component [of an electric car]--the battery--is nowhere near ready," writer Charles Murray went on to discuss a potential long-term solution: lithium batteries. In that context, Professor Sadoway, who is developing such a battery with MIT colleagues, told Mr. Murray: "The industry has been looking at the near-term because the 1998 sales requirements have forced them to��������������������������� So they looked at low-risk technologies that were as close to off-the-shelf as possible. As a result, certain high-risk technologies have not been explored. So maybe it's time to open the gates and take a look at new ideas that might take a little longer." (See the April 29, 1998 issue of MIT Tech Talk for a story on the MIT work toward a lithium battery.)

TOAST OF THE TOWN

David Hardy has a few personae at MIT. By day, he's an analyst programmer in the Controller's Accounting Office and by night, he's the host of WMBR's weekly "Second Stage," presenting the best of Broadway, off-Broadway and cabaret. As a radio personality, he's co-sponsoring an upcoming cabaret gala, "Toast of the Town," put on by the Frontrunners Boston Charitable Foundation in association with the AIDS Action Committee.

The AIDS benefit, taking place on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 8pm at The Tremont Boston (275 Tremont St., across from the Wang Center) will bepreceded by a reception at 7pm. Mr. Hardy will interview featured performer Steve Scalchlin, writer of The Last Session, on his radio show on Friday, Oct. 30 at 9pm. Tickets for "Toast of the Town" are $35 ($50 for VIP seating), available through TicketMaster at 931-2787.

PEER REVIEW

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) offered an appreciation of Professor William E. Griffith, who was a political advisor to RFE in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War and a visiting scholar at the RFE/RL Research Center in the 1990s. Professor Griffith died on September 28. A. Ross Johnson said in the RFE/RL Washington Journal on October 12:

"It will fall to others to chronicle Bill Griffith's major contribution to Radio Free Europe and to American policy. Although urged by many, he refused to write his memoirs.

"Si monumentum requiris, circumspice--If you seek his monument, look around. Bill Griffith helped shape Radio Free Europe. He helped bring about a Europe whole and free."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 28, 1998.


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