Robert Masello ’74
It is 1944, and World War II is still roiling Europe. Lucas Athan, the hero of Robert Masello ’74’s novel The Einstein Prophecy, has just returned to his post as an art history professor at Princeton after a stint as an army lieutenant. Sometimes it almost feels as if he never left — and then he remembers the black patch that now covers the spot where his left eye used to be, before he lost it in an accident on his last army mission.
The Egyptian sarcophagus he was sent to recover is at Princeton for study, and Lucas starts to suspect that there might be more to it than initially appears. Archaeologist Simone Rashid arrives with cryptic warnings about the sarcophagus, which she claims to have discovered with her father. Then strange events involving Albert Einstein, who is Lucas’ neighbor, begin to occur. As Lucas and Simone work together to untangle the mystery, it becomes clear that their work has landed them in a struggle between good and unmitigated evil. Continue reading
David Rieff ’78
In 2000, the prices of food staples such as wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans had fallen to a record low. Some experts assumed the trend would continue, and access to inexpensive food for the three billion people who survive on less than two dollars a day would drastically improve.
However, “they could not have been more wrong,” David Rieff ’78 writes in The Reproach of Hunger. By 2008, the global food crisis was in full bloom — the price of wheat, for example, had risen by 130 percent. This spelled disaster for the many for whom food staples are often not just one part of a varied diet but the only buffer between survival and starvation. Though more than enough food is produced to feed everyone on the planet, food prices continue to swing to record-breaking highs and lows, thanks to factors such as climate change and the use of crops for livestock feed and fuel instead of food, writes Rieff, who spent six years reporting the book. Continue reading
Philip Moeller ’68
A guide to navigating your Social Security benefits may not sound like scintillating reading, but Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller ’68, and Paul Solman rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list a few weeks after its publication.
The book helps people figure out if they are taking advantage of all the benefits to which they are entitled. “You have been forking over payroll taxes your entire working life; you deserve to get what you paid for; and it’s the law,” the authors write. Continue reading
If you’ve ever noticed the quotations rendered in large block letters on the walls of Frist Campus Center, watched a freshman Pre-rade and Step Sing, or viewed the Reunion and beer jacket exhibits in Maclean House, then you’ve experienced the handiwork of the Princetoniana Committee.
“The Princetoniana Committee is focused around the history and traditions of Princeton, familiarizing people with those and constructing traditions as they go along,” said former committee chair Gregg Lange ’70. “One reason we do that … is to give people a sense of belonging, a sense of import, and a sense of context to what they’re doing and why.”
More than archivists, members of the Princetoniana Committee are actively contributing to the University’s traditions. Just 11 years ago, the committee inaugurated the Pre-rade as a way to welcome freshmen to the Princeton community. A few years later, the committee added a Step Sing on the steps of Blair Arch after the Pre-rade as a way to ensure that freshmen knew the words to “Old Nassau.”
According to current chair Sev Onyshkevych ’83, the Princetoniana Committee was founded in 1981 after the death of Frederic Fox ’39, who was the University’s recording secretary for 17 years and earned the title “Keeper of Princetoniana.” Fox’s classmate Hugh (“Bud”) Wynne established the committee under the Alumni Council as a way to continue Fox’s work in preserving Princeton traditions.
“What one person did, we now have a committee of 40 doing,” Onyshkevych said. Continue reading
Bruce Hillman ’69
Germany in the first half of the 20th century often is associated with the Nazi movement that ultimately ravaged the country. In the world of physics, however, it had become a battleground for opposing schools of thought: One side embraced experimental physics, which was based on the work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton and driven by the scientific method; the other believed in theoretical physics, which revolved around theories that sometimes were untested experimentally and was grounded in the work of Albert Einstein.
For Philipp Lenard, the recipient of the 1905 Nobel Prize for physics and an adviser to Adolf Hitler, the conflict between experimental and theoretical physics was personified in his hatred for Einstein. In The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History, Bruce Hillman ’69 and co-authors Birgit Ertl-Wagner and Bernd C. Wagner recount the events that led to Einstein’s rise, his rivalry with Lenard, and his eventual self-exile from his homeland, bringing to life the “smoldering, personal cold war” between the two men. The book’s publication coincides with the 60th anniversary of Einstein’s death. Continue reading
Sarah Sherman ’08 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dutch Slager)
When the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite launched smoothly on Jan. 31, Sarah Sherman ’08 had cause to celebrate. As the mission’s launch-phase lead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Caltech-managed NASA center in Pasadena, Calif., Sherman was in charge of putting procedures and contingency plans into place, as well as executing dress rehearsals of the launch.
SMAP uses the radar and radiometer it has on board to gather soil moisture data, which can be used to monitor droughts, predict floods, and improve weather forecasts, among other things. Sherman is now doing operations for the satellite, which involves being on console as a systems chair and overseeing the 90-day commissioning phase that precedes the beginning of the three-year science, or data-collection, phase.
Perhaps that seems like a lot of responsibility for someone who hasn’t yet hit 30. In reality, however, Sherman has been working on SMAP for almost seven years, since the summer after she graduated from Princeton. Before that, she worked in the summers of 2006 and 2007 as a Caltech research fellow analyzing wind models of Titan and developing control algorithms to steer a hot air balloon in its atmosphere. Her next project will be as a mechanical engineer on the Sample Caching System of the Mars 2020 Rover. Continue reading