Archive for the ‘Academic life’ Category

A Zwicky of flavour physics

November 2, 2017

Thanks to Google Alerts, yesterday I learned about the theoretical physicist Roman Zwicky — someone to add to the great book of Zwickys on this blog. His webpage photo:

His Edinburgh webpage lists his research areas as: Collider Physics, Flavour Physics, Fundamental Theory. Yes, forbiddingly technical, but then his pages are clearly intended for fellow physicists, not for random people, even those with scientific interests.


Earth Dean

October 13, 2017

A brief note on a personnel change at Stanford, announced in the Stanford Report this morning:

(#1) The new Earth Dean, with lilies-of-the-valley (and a purple calla lily)

Geologist Stephan Graham has been named dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Provost Persis Drell has announced.


One more remarkable tie

October 23, 2016

From Steven Levine on Facebook today:

A recent posting by Arnold Zwicky [about paisley ties] reminded me that several months ago I provided him with my nominations for what I considered the most unusual tie in my collection. It also reminded me of the egegious oversight on my part that I neglected to include this one, which on reflection probably wins the award: Late 40s tie with a print of workers sitting in a tree, each sawing off the very branch upon which they are sitting.

I don’t even have a wild fantasy explanation for this, much less a plausible one.

On your day off

December 9, 2015

The PHD Comics from the 7th:

Deep sighs. A long-standing tradition for me: using the hour or two before going to bed for necessary academic work (like entering data) that doesn’t require real mental effort.

Hat tip to Nathan Sanders, who is of course an academic (a linguist, in fact), at Swarthmore.

Morning Zorn

June 21, 2015

It was a morning name many days ago, but it led in so many interesting directions that I’m just now getting to post about it: Zorn’s Lemma, a remnant of my days in logic and set theory (now almost entirely forgotten).

From the lemmatist Max August Zorn, with a brush against his newspaperman grandson Eric, to Max’s wife Alice, on to the amazing musician John Zorn (no known relation to any of the above), and then to James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks.


Academic friends

June 6, 2015

(A posting about my life and about the academic world, not specifically focused on language.)

In the June 8th/15th New Yorker, a letter about Adam Gopnik’s May 4th piece on Anthony Trollope (“Trollope Trending”), from Deborah Denenholz Morse, a professor of English at William and Mary:

As the author and the co-editor of two books that Gopnik mentions, I was glad to read a piece reflecting that Trollope stands the test of time. He is as relevant today on gender, race, and politics as he was in his own era. Still, I have never taught a student who has read a Trollope novel before taking my class. Many students are thrilled to discover a writer with whom few Americans are familiar. Over the years, I have come to appreciate his work more and more, thanks to scholars such as Robert Polhemus … and James Kincaid … Academic literature helps students see Trollope as writing not only about Victorian England but also about their own lives — about psychology, the environment, the political nature of all relationships, the comedy of human foibles — and about the need for faith in something, usually the love of one individual for another.

What caught my eye here (beyond the further good words about the admirable Anthony Trollope) was the mention of Polhemus and Kincaid, who are old academic friends of mine.


Academic disciplines in competition

May 6, 2015

A recent xkcd (#1520, “Degree-Off”) on competition between academic disciples:

Competition between academic disciplines — not just in the natural sciences, as here — is a recurrent theme in the strip. We have to wonder what the Chemistry panelist is going to say. Better Living Through Chemistry?

This week’s remarkable photo

April 8, 2015

From a memoir piece by Sissela Bok in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Scholar, “Meeting the Mystics: My California encounters with Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley”, about a time in her life shortly after she married Derek Bok (in 1955) and settled in the United States. Through her husband, she met a set of mystics, rebels, and countercultural icons. A photo from January 1960 in Southern California:

Left to right: Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Sir Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, and Linus Pauling

Rebels all, mystics, LSD explorers, and so on. All, of course, men. And all in suits; well, the ’60s had not really gotten underway yet. You can tell that Heard was the true rebel because he’s the only one with a beard.



March 22, 2015

This morning’s name was Gil Chaitin, and that led immediately to Gregory Chaitin. Both academics, but in very different fields.


Journalists and their names

February 11, 2015

Late last week, the Stanford Linguistic Department’s assistant e-mailed me about a phone call (for me) that had come into the department: a Mr. Ethics, representing a magazine, wanted to talk to me about a story he was working on, and left a New York City phone number.

I tried to check on this fellow Ethics, to no avail, until I realized that the assistant (who is very good at her job, but is not a native speaker of English) had almost surely gotten the name wrong. Eventually I figured out that the man’s name was Essex, not the unlikely Ethics. By then the day was over in New York City; in any case, I thought the phone call to my department was an ominous sign.