The following stories ranked at the top of PAW’s Web traffic statistics in 2009.
1. Inventing the future, by Joel Achenbach ’82
Nathan Myhrvold *83 has one of the premier résumés of the digital age. He didn’t merely work in software; he founded Microsoft Research and spent 13 years as an all-purpose sage and eccentric genius at the side of Bill Gates.
He didn’t merely study physics and math; he studied them at Princeton, where the physics and math faculties are among the best in the world — and then he flew off to Cambridge for some tutelage at the feet of Stephen Hawking.
He doesn’t merely like to cook: He’s a master chef (and has worked in one of Seattle’s best restaurants) who once won a barbecue contest in Memphis. He doesn’t just take pictures: He’s an award-winning wildlife photographer. … (Jan. 28)
2. Mrs. Obama goes to Washington, by Peter Slevin ’78
It was Inauguration Day. The 44th president had just taken the oath of office, and his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson ’83, was checking out his sister’s new digs, better known as the White House. A staff member, one of 93 who work for the first family, gave Robinson and his wife, Kelly, a tour that took them to the Truman Balcony, overlooking the South Lawn and the Washington Monument beyond.
“We took in the view and the history. My wife and I were just shaking our heads,” Robinson says. “When you grow up in a place that’s one-bedroom, one-bath, you’re not thinking at any point, ‘My sister’s going to live in the White House,’ or ‘My mother’s going to live in the White House.’ “
Live there they do, completing an improbable journey that took Michelle Obama ’85, the daughter of a city utility worker, from a small walkup in South Shore on Chicago’s South Side to the heart of American political power. … (March 18)