Here & There


4-H PROJECT

Recently the News Office received an e-mail query from a 4-H member in Texas preparing a presentation on modern fabrics. Would it be possible to get further information--and a swatch--of Professor Yoel Fink's "mirror fabric"? MIT couldn't supply the sample, but the News Office did send along the original MIT Tech Talk story on the work and a digital photo of Fink with a skein of mirror fibers. "This will be very beneficial to my presentation!" she wrote back. "Thanks!"

Fink is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The Tech Talk story and photo about his mirror fabric is here.

THWARTED AMBITION

MIT might have had a rather interesting alumnus, at least if Uday Hussein had had his way.

The Oct. 2 issue of The Independent (London) reports that Saddam's son "confessed to an early ambition to be a nuclear scientist and had even traveled to the U.S. at 16 in search of further education."

"I did my SATs. I did well. Passed with high marks," he told the newspaper, but then came the Iran-Iraq war. "I wanted to do nuclear studies, and at that time there was a problem with Iraqis doing that." The newspaper article continued, "It was a bitter blow. 'I wanted to go to MIT,' he recalled sadly."

SCIENCE JOURNALISM

Two MIT folk have contributed chapters to the fall 2002 issue of the Nieman Reports, which focus on science journalism.

Boyce Rensberger, director of MIT's Knight Science Journalism Fellowship program, "reminds science reporters to 'try to keep the sense of uncertainty in their copy,'" says the introduction to the issue. "Caveats are important, he asserts, for without them, conclusions are often misleading. To inform the public accurately about science, journalists should focus 'less on hyping apparent "gee-whiz" moments.'"

Rensberger also includes an accompanying list of 41 "books every science writer should read." They include three by MIT authors: "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker (the Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology), "The Society of Mind" by Marvin Minsky (a professor at the Media Lab), and "Science, the Endless Frontier" by the late Vannevar Bush (an MIT vice president).

Felice Frankel, a science photographer and research scientist in the School of Science, "brings her astonishing images to our pages to demonstrate how pictures created by the use of new technology will assume an increasingly prominent role in communicating scientific information ... [and] produce a different kind of journalist's thinking."

The issue, or specific chapters, can be downloaded here.

CLIPS AND QUOTES

"There is no substitute for political will." -- Richard Schmalensee, dean of the Sloan School of Management, on meeting rising energy needs (New York Times, Nov. 1). Schmalensee was commenting on a report in Science magazine co-authored by MIT's Howard Herzog, a principal research engineer at the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

"We don't have to wait until the last minute and send Bruce Willis out after it." --Richard Binzel, a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, on deflecting asteroids (Morning News [Ariz.], Oct. 31).

"In their hearts, most people know it, especially people with more than one child." --Steven Pinker, Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology, on the premise that genes affect behavior (UPI, Oct. 30).

"I think the most important applications are the ones we don't know yet." --Mandayam Srinivasan, director of MIT's Touch Lab, on his research that allows researchers to virtually touch one another from afar (San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 30).

"I expect robust Internet voting by 2010." --Professor of Political Science Stephen Ansolabehere on voting technology (The New York Times, Oct. 28).

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


Topics: Faculty

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