Here & There


ECONOMIC HEAVYWEIGHT

Charles Kindleberger literally wrote the book on financial crises, so it's not surprising that the Ford International Professor of Economics Emeritus was the focus of a July 28 story in the Wall Street Journal.

Some 24 years ago, Kindleberger published "Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises." The book is "required reading for many Wall Street trainees and students of economic history," according to the newspaper. Indeed, in the forward to the third edition of the book in 1996 Kindleberger predicted the current crisis, warning readers "of what looked 'suspiciously like a bubble in technology stocks.'" On the book's cover, professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson also appears to have seen the future, writing, "Some time in the next five years you may kick yourself for not reading and re-reading Kindleberger's [book]."

At 91, Kindleberger is still sharing economic wisdom. For example, the Journal reported, in 2001 he wrote an essay on investing when you're older. "His advice: 'subtract your age from 100, and that is the percentage you should have in equities.'"

What of the future? "The object of [Kindleberger's] greatest fascination today is the real estate market," the Journal reports. He "says he isn't certain there is a housing bubble yet, 'but I suspect [there] is.'"

QUICKSAND QUERY

Reporters call MIT professors for comment on everything from cloning to artificial muscle. Gareth McKinley was recently asked to explain the dynamics of quicksand. For a column that ran in the June 23 issue of the Halifax [Nova Scotia] Chronicle-Herald, the professor of mechanical engineering was asked what to do if you find yourself mired in the muck.

"The best bet is ... never to panic or move fast, because that can cause the sand and water mixture to thicken momentarily," he explained. "It'll seem as if you're being sucked in. It's not really sucking, just making your agitated movements more difficult, putting you at risk of fatigue and drowning."

His take-home advice, according to the column: "Try to raise your legs and swim oh-so-slowly toward shore, or maybe float onto your back and gently roll off the stuff onto terra firma."

JOINT JUICE

An MIT team's recent announcement of a new technique for engineering cartilage was reported in the Sept. 2 issue of wired.com under the headline, "Scientists Brew Real Joint Juice."

The resulting tissue, reported Elliot Borin, "may some day make artificial joints unnecessary, provide a true cure for many types of osteoarthritis and permanently relieve injuries." Borin learned of the work through the MIT Research Digest, a monthly publication distributed through the MIT News Office. The cartilage work wasled by Professor Alan Grodzinsky.

Grodzinsky is director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering Division and has appointments in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Biological Engineering Division and the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

CLIPS & QUOTES

"It's certainly the most interesting thing that's happening in architecture in this region today." - Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell in an Aug. 11 Globe story he wrote about MIT's current building program.

"People forget in very profound ways that they are talking to nothing." - Professor Sherry Turkle of the Program in Science, Technology and Society in a July 27 Los Angeles Times story about "buddies," online virtual "correspondents."

"The tax hikes apparently made many smokers happier by helping them to stop or reduce their smoking." - Professor of Economics Jonathan Gruber on a study of smokers' reactions to cigarette taxes. His remarks appeared in the Aug. 26 Business Week online.

"This is where (power companies) make their profits, by and large. This is kind of the Christmas season to them." - Stephen Connors, multidisciplinary research coordinator for the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, in a story about the summer's heat wave that ran in the Aug. 20 issue of the Gloucester Daily Times.

"I talk to atoms and molecules in their own language, and if we ask them very nicely they will compute for us." - Professor of Mechanical Engineering Seth Lloyd on quantum computers, in which single atoms or molecules serve as processors. His comments appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of U.S. News & World Report.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 2002.


Topics: Faculty, National relations and service, Staff

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