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Alumni Notes: March / April 2016

Remember the cliche that a problem is "not rocket science?""Oh, pshaw," say some physicists; rocket science is easy compared to quantum physics. For example, the physics that recently earned Art Hebard and a colleague the American Physical Society's 2015 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize for "discovering and pioneering investigation of the superconductor-insulator transition, a paradigm for quantum phase transitions." That is "a mouthful," empathetically says Art, a physics professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, but he adds that the subject can be Googled for more information. For other outstanding science from our class, see the Necrology below.

Sam Waterston is acting his age, and possibly the age of many of us, in the film Anesthesia, which opened in January. He plays, said a New York Times review by Steven Holden, "a wise, kindhearted Columbia University philosophy professor on the verge of retirement." Holden said the film focuses on the "cruel paradox of living in a world of life-enhancing technological miracles that don't begin to fulfill our yearning for more purposeful, satisfying existence." Sam's professor, it seems, is "the only major character who might be described as happy."

One of several classmates stepping up to the discussion about lingering racism at Yale (see our late December website), Paul Wortman was quoted in a Nick Kristof blog on the New York Times website. "If South Carolina can furl the Confederate battle flag," said Paul, "Yale can and must remove its flag of segregation as well. We may not be able to change the past, but we do not and should not continue to honor the offensive symbols it has bequeathed to us."

For his part, Rod Hunter, an emeritus professor of pastoral theology at Atlanta's Emory University, looks at the current political scene with "alarm and foreboding, barely tempered by a faith-based sense of hope." That sense might also be helped by the pleasure he takes in his continuing studies of classical piano. Hope is likewise reflected in Boyd Murray, still working as a senior VP of Janney Montgomery in Pittsburgh. Last fall he married Janice Coffman, a childhood friend.

Like many of us, Peter Schenck and his wife are moving - in their case, in July to Bozeman, Montana, to be near their children and grandchildren. On a similar cycle, Steve Danetz says he "may really be retiring" and with his wife, Ellen, will henceforth spend January through April in Boca Raton, Florida. Bill Wheeler and his wife, Ingrid, are "still enjoying our home in Belvedere on San Francisco Bay "while spending two winter months finding inspiration for his painting among the expatriate gang in Mexico's San Miguel de Allende. He beckons: "Let Ingrid and me know if you are headed in our directions - either one."

Breezily, Jim Breese deploys his skills as a high-tech engineer to fool with non-terrorist model airplanes near his new home in Avila Beach, California. Several years ago he distilled 47 problem-solving techniques into Famous by Friday (Diesel eBooks), a book he recently quipped has "done quite well - I've sold dozens of copies!" But he says he's "learned something about myself - I don't like marketing." Help him, one of you marketers.

Necrology: Alfred Gilman, winner of a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his fundamental research on proteins that transmit chemical signals in cells and are involved, he once said, in "everything from sex in yeast to cognition in humans," died late last year of cancer and received a full obituary in the Boston Globe. An obituary will appear in due course on our website.



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