Boston's black youth have one of their best friends in MIT's John S. Wilson, director of the Office of School Development Services and associate director of Foundation Relations.
Mr. Wilson's work in behalf of young blacks has gained him an award from the state legislature, but the reward he really seeks is improvement in the lives of young African-Americans and also in how they are viewed.
As president of the Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association, Mr. Wilson and a fellow graduate, John Brown, three years ago formed the Bridging Bridges program, which brings together several outreach programs directed primarily at African-American boys. "Instead of being competitive," Mr. Wilson told columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of The Boston Globe, "we started talking about bridging the bridges."
The program works with such core groups as Gang Peace, the Paul Robeson Institute at Northeastern University, the W.E.B. Dubois Academy, Save Our Youth and Positive Future, as well as affiliate programs and church groups. Bridging Bridges also has monthly programs at Roxbury Community College, at which successful black men speak, and is planning a series of field trips.
Several organizations and foundations have provided financial assistance, and Mr. Wilson's alumni group has held a Mo' Better Gala fund-raiser for the past three years, attracting celebrities such as movie maker Spike Lee among the hundreds of guests.
Mr. Wilson set the tone for this year's gala when he told the guests, "We are here tonight to affirm, honor and celebrate the African-American male. What tonight's event should make abundantly clear is that we're not all bad."
As a highlight of the evening, State Senator Dianne Wilkerson of the South End gave Mr. Wilson and the Morehouse alumni association an award "in recognition of your exemplary promotion of the education and enrichment of young African-American males."
Who says big institutions can't have a heart?
Among property that MIT owns is land in Topsfield which includes a hill just perfect for-what else?-sledding.
So each year, MIT officially enters into a contract with the Topsfield Board of Selectmen for the lease of Wheatland's Hill as a sledding site for the young and young-at-heart.
It charges the town $1, to make it all legal.
And how was the sledding this winter?
Do you need to ask?
If a planet orbiting a nearby star had cities on it, a Boston Globe reader wanted to know, is it theoretically possible to build a telescope powerful enough to view those cities from our solar system?
For the answer, the Globe turned to Bernard F. Burke, professor of physics and William A.M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics, who said it might be possible to build one on the airless surface of the moon, beyond earth's limiting atmosphere.
"Such a telescope would actually consist of many small telescopes scattered across one whole side of the moon and joined together so the light from each one went to a single central electronic camera," wrote the Globe's "How & Why" columnist. "It could detect details smaller than a third of a millionth of a second of arc-a patch of sky less than a billionth as wide as the full moon. That would, in theory, be good enough to detect surface details on a planet orbiting one of the few dozen closest stars and be `pretty close to resolving,' or revealing, a city-sized area, Burke says.
"Burke says he once proposed an array of telescopes six miles across that could be built on the moon within `the most optimistic imaginable projection of NASA's budget.' He says they would be theoretically capable of seeing planets around other stars-something no telescope has ever done and no existing telescope could possibly do. Such a project is right `at the boundary of what's practically possible.'"
Atlanta Constitution staff writer Maureen Downey makes a special point or two regarding the empowerment of women when she reads to her daughter at bedtime. "I'm not above fooling with a plotline," she wrote. "My version of Cinderella concludes: `And they lived happily ever after, once she completed MIT and earned a degree in particle physics.'"
A story in the The Morning Call of Allentown, PA, recounts the amateur auto racing exploits of an MIT alumnus, John Mirro (SB in mechanical engineering, 1972). Mr. Mirro, who recently drove a Nissan 240SX in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, FL, has been racing 15 years. He's president of CONMEC Inc., of Bethlehem, PA, an engineering and manufacturing company involved in high-performance industrial machinery for the oil, chemical, steel and power industries.
"It makes me concerned when the environmentalists talk about wolves or owls or old-growth forests. One has to wonder if there's an avoidance or denial of human health effects." -Dr. Eric S. Chivian, psychiatrist in the Medical Department, member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-editor of Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment, commenting in the Boston Globe on the need for environmentalists to focus on potential human health problems from such conditions as ozone depletion and climate change and pollution.
"There are shifts taking place, certainly, but we got a bigger boost than expected." - Dr. J. David Litster, vice president and dean for research, in a Boston Globe story on larger-than-anticipated research funds in the federal budget.
"Every development that doesn't happen out there is a whole bunch of vehicle miles that doesn't happen." - Frederick P. Salvucci, senior lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in a speech suggesting that federal transportation funds be used to purchase land around Boston, thus slowing suburban sprawl and reducing dependence on the automobile, reported in the Boston Globe.
"What we do know is that in a large area around Northridge, and heading west into the Ventura basin, we're seeing displacement on the order of four to five centimeters (1.5 to 2 inches) due to the earthquake. The problem we have right now, in trying to explain it, is that we can't come up with a single fault plane that ruptured that's consistent with changes seen on the ground surface. In other words, it's hard to visualize what sort of fault, or crack in the ground, broke and slipped below the surface." - Dr. Thomas A. Herring, Kerr-McGee Junior Development Associate Professor of Geophysics, in a Newsday story by Robert Cooke on the investigation by scientists into the January California earthquake.
"This could be really big for the recycling industry, in which economics is now the key to success. Recycling needs some useful inventions like this that are high quality-but not high cost-to create consumer demand, investor interest and get legislators to pass more recycling laws." - Dr. David K. Roylance, associate professor of materials engineering, in a New York Times story on the recycling of plastic soda bottles into polyester apparel.
"There's been more than one experiment that when you fetched it, there had been a malfunction and you lost a year of data." - Dr. Arthur B. Baggeroer, Ford Professor of Engineering and professor of electrical and ocean engineering, in a Science story on new methods of collecting data by radio from underwater research instruments.
A version of this article appeared in the April 27, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 30).