When News Office receptionist Chandra Wilds went out to the Lobby 7 mailboxes late in the afternoon recently, she found a man sitting on one of the boxes in the nearly deserted lobby, talking on a cellular telephone.
But this was not just any man. He was a very tall man, so tall that his feet easily reached the ground from his perch on the mailbox. And he is quite a famous man. In fact, Ms. Wilds instantly recognized him and, taken aback, nearly dropped her mail to the floor.
The celebrity was none other than 21-year-old Shaquille O'Neal, the 7'1" center for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association, anointed by many as the next NBA superstar in the Michael Jordan mold.
He has a multi-million contract with his team, and also an endorsement contract with Reebok, the athletic footwear company.
Indirectly, it was his connection with Reebok that brought him to MIT. His Reebok manager, Robert Hamilton, is engaged to Robin M. Offley, administrative assistant in the Admissions Office. And when he came by to pick up Ms. Offley at the end of the day, O'Neal came along.
Ms. Offley, who has met O'Neal several times, said he is a "really nice guy" who does considerable community service work. That evening, for instance, O'Neal went to the Roxbury Boys and Girls Club, where Mr. Hamilton coaches the basketball team.
Mr. Hamilton also is head basketball coach at Charlestown High School and was captain of his basketball team at Middlebury College. He and Ms. Offley will be married in June.
Dr. Eric Chivian, a Medical Department psychiatrist and a co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War which received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, is one of the editors of a new book that assesses the medical consequences of global environmental change.
Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment, is described by the publisher, MIT Press, as the first major medical response to last year's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It was written for a general audience by members of Physicians for Social Responsibility "to help people understand the full dimension of the environmental crisis."
Issues covered include global warming, ozone depletion, and the pollution of air, water and soil by toxic chemicals.
At an MIT-Harvard symposium on the topic in October, Dr. Chivian, who is also assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said: "Physicians are among the most trusted people in society when it comes to health risks, but health considerations have been given quite low consideration in environmental policy. If people really understand the stakes of environmental degradation, then they will demand much greater action."
"This was the revenge of the nerds. It was a signal that the financial markets have entered a new era-when quantitative expertise is not only useful, it's indispensable."-Dr. Andrew W. Lo, professor of finance, in a Wall Street Journal article on the success of a new breed of "derivatives" traders who rely heavily on quantitative insights into such market influences as probability and volatility.
A version of this article appeared in the December 1, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 16).