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Category Archives: All years

Year 150 – 2010: iPad

Product debut: April 2010 To mark the official 150th anniversary of MIT’s founding in 1861, the Institute held  a massive “Next Century Convocation” on April 10, 2011 at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. During the festivities, the renewal of MIT’s charter – a reaffirmation of the Institute’s mission – was signed by President Susan Hockfield. Also signing were MIT’s two Presidents Emeriti, along with representatives from the MIT Corporation, the faculty, the student body, and the staff. Each of them endorsed the document – a digital “iCharter” – on an iPad. Since May of 2010, The Lewis Music Library […]

Year 149 – 2009: Species, Serpents, Spirits and Skulls: Science at the Margins in the Victorian Age by Sherrie Lynne Lyons

Published: Albany, 2009 Victorians filled auditoriums to hear presentations by the leading scientific lights of their day. Michael Faraday’s lectures on electricity and magnetism, for example, were wildly popular and people jammed every hall in which he appeared. But for all their interest in the sciences, Victorians could have trouble distinguishing between legitimate lines of scientific inquiry and what author Sherrie Lynne Lyons calls “marginal science.” The latter isn’t limited only to deliberate charlatanism and quackery, though. Theories that we now perceive as pseudoscience, or even just plain nonsense, might at one time have been perceived as entirely rational scientific […]

Year 148 – 2008: The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash by Charles R. Morris

Published: New York, 2008 Early in 2007, Charles Morris emailed his publisher. “I think we’re heading for the mother of all crashes,” he wrote.  “It will happen in summer of 2008, I think.” At the same time, our nation’s financial leaders, both in Washington and on Wall Street, were telling Congress that the U.S. economy was in beautiful shape. Unfortunately, it was Morris who turned out to be right. In his foreword, the author treats us to a simplified account of the credit bubble. “Not long ago,” he writes, “the sum of all financial assets – stocks, bonds, loans, mortgages, […]

Year 147 – 2007: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Published: New York, 2007 Junot Díaz is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing in MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. His first book, a collection of short stories called Drown, met with critical acclaim when it was published in 1996, becoming a national bestseller and winning a PEN/Malamud Award. A decade later, his debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, generated even more buzz. In addition to ending 2007 on several “best-of” lists, the book also won several major awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. The novel moves […]

Year 146 – 2006: Orange County Housecleaners by Frank Cancian

Published: Albuquerque, 2006 This photo documentary profiles seven women, largely through their own words, all of them currently or formerly housecleaners in Orange County, CA. There’s Sara Velazquez, an immigrant who crossed the river into Laredo on an inner tube and nearly cried when asked during her first interview about her children back in Mexico. There’s Tina Parker, an Orange County native whose mother pulled her out of school when she was a child (ostensibly to be home schooled, but really to be taken door to door as a Jehovah’s Witness). Leidi Mejia, originally from Guatemala, enrolled in a cosmetology […]

Year 145 – 2005: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

Published: New York, 2005 Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil (MIT class of 1970) defines the Singularity as “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” This prediction is based on the idea that information technology develops exponentially, and that this development occurs at a predictable rate, resulting in accelerating returns. Given such an exponential rate of growth, Kurzweil, in considering our future, argues that we won’t experience one hundred years of technological advance in the twenty-first century; we will witness on the order […]

Year 144 – 2004: Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything by Dan Falk

Published: New York, 2004 The theory of everything – not to be confused with unified field theory, which is related but different – has been the Holy Grail of theoretical physics for centuries. The successful theory would explain all physical phenomena in the universe, making it possible, in theory, to predict the outcome of any experiment. “And while it will likely be expressed through abstract mathematics,” Dan Falk suggests, “the ideas at the heart of the theory may turn out to be extremely simple – so simple, in fact, that the essence of the theory can be written on a […]

Year 143 – 2003: Visionaire, Issue 41: World

Published: New York, 2003 “The idea of a publication that changes format and continually morphs and redefines itself is intriguing” – Variety Intriguing and continually morphing in every imaginable way, Visionaire is an art and fashion publication issued in numbered, limited editions, three times a year since 1991. For each issue, artists, photographers, and fashion designers work with Visionaire‘s editors to interpret a particular theme and produce a volume in a format that’s unique to that issue – and generally unlike any format encountered in a traditional print publication. Each volume is visually rich and pretty irresistible; you want to […]

Year 142 – 2002: Portraits by Santiago Calatrava

Published: Zurich, 2002 Santiago Calatrava is among the most celebrated architects working today. His bridges don’t merely span gaps between two points, and his buildings don’t merely enclose space. All of Calatrava’s structures are highly sculptural and dramatic, and they sometimes test the limits of technology. Fear not; he is also a structural engineer. But that’s not all. Calatrava creates designs for opera, ballet, and theater; he paints; he sculpts. His work in all its variety has been the subject of exhibitions in major museums worldwide. Calatrava’s soaring, winged design for the transportation hub at the World Trade Center site […]

Year 141 – 2001: Karachi, Sentenced: The Architecture of the City in Typography

Published: Karachi, Pakistan, 2001 Known locally as the “City of Lights,” Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. In 2001, to promote awareness of the rich cultural heritage of the city, KaravanKarachi (now KaravanPakistan) was formed as a community and youth outreach program. In support of the program’s festivals and heritage activities held in September of that year, communication design students at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and the School of Visual Studies, University of Karachi, created Karachi, Sentenced: The Architecture of the City in Typography. The […]