Professor Harvey Lodish temporarily took the law into his own hands in July--to officiate at the wedding of one of his former postdocs.
Dr. Lodish, professor of biology and a member of the Whitehead Institute, was armed with a letter from Governor Weld, authorizing him to act as a justice of the peace for the wedding of Dr. Miyoung Chun and Dr. Ken Kosik. Dr. Chun was a postdoc in Professor Lodish's lab at Whitehead for five years before leaving last February to head her own lab at the Boston University School of Medicine.
"During and since the Yi dynasty, there has been little if any religion in Korea," Dr. Chun explained in the Whitehead Bulletin. "At weddings, Koreans turn to those they most respect to officiate; most respected among Koreans are their teachers and professors. This idea stems from the traditions of Confucius and used to hold such sway that students would not only walk behind their professors, but would not even step into their shadow."
"As a professor at MIT, I can assure you that that tradition is not as strong as it used to be," Professor Lodish quipped. "Nevertheless, I was in the enviable position of having been Miyoung's mentor until recently, when she became a professor in her own right."
The framed letter from Governor Weld now hangs on the wall of Professor Lodish's office.
Professor Paul A. Samuelson's wit has enlivened many occasions, but he produced the biggest laugh of the day at a White House ceremony honoring this year's Medal of Science recipients--without saying a word.
President Clinton, citing the accomplishments of the 13 recipients, then fastened a gold medal around each honoree's neck, describing the award as "America's version of the Nobel Prize."
"In the case of Paul Samuelson," reported the Gannett News Service, "the red, white and blue ribbon was too small.
"After a brief, futile struggle to slip the medallion over Samuelson's head," it continued, "the president quit and brought down the house quipping, `His brain's just too big.'"
Dr. Samuelson, a Nobel laureate in economics, is Institute Professor, professor of economics emeritus and a Gordon Y Billard Fellow.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 18, 1996.