March 23, 2005: From the Editor
Nathan Myhrvold *83, this year’s winner of the Madison Medal, had just finished his Alumni Day address on the “Magic of Invention” — an address that touched on computers, aviation, agriculture, economics, Teflon, Velcro, SPAM, and nuclear weapons, among other things — when he opened the floor to questions. A woman asked about microwave ovens.
Far from being stumped, Myhrvold launched into a history of microwave technology, describing its development from military uses to cooking. The fellow sitting next to me in Richardson Auditorium leaned over and shook his head. “This guy knows everything!” he said.
Alumni Day can be intimidating — as you will see from the people covered in this issue. Besides Myhrvold — a physicist who received his Princeton Ph.D. in applied math at age 23 and went on to become a computer guru, entrepreneur, paleontologist, nature photographer, world barbecue champion, and race-car driver (his medal is inscribed “Renaissance Man”) — the award winners included Pyne Prize winner Amy Saltzman ’05, who has been compared to a “young Margaret Mead” by anthropology professor João Biehl; four graduate students whose extraordinary research earned them Jacobus fellowships; and, of course, Woodrow Wilson Award winner Thomas Kean ’57, whose long résumé in public service and education includes stints as New Jersey governor, president of Drew University, and chairman of the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But while intimidation (and a bit of envy) can be among the first reactions one has when hearing of the award winners, these are not the reactions that linger. Instead, long after the day was over, I recalled the gratitude that the honorees expressed — to Princeton the institution, and to the individuals who had helped them throughout their lives. Also remaining was the sense of community so evident in the Service of Remembrance that was held in the University Chapel soon after the awards were handed out.
The service was different this year, with Jewish, Buddhist, and Baha’i prayers added to the traditional Christian hymns. Representatives of classes from 1929 to the present marched in the customary procession to honor classmates, along with representatives of the Graduate School, student body, faculty, and staff. The event was solemn yet optimistic and forward-looking; at the end, a kite swirled over the congregation as “Hymn to Joy” swelled through the Chapel. As much as the honorees’ tremendous accomplishments, this is Princeton, too.
A follow-up to an item mentioned in this space in our Feb. 23 issue: Deanna Manfredi *94 won the Game Show Network’s American Dream Derby, a reality show for horse-lovers that ended with a race Feb. 21. Her grand prize was $250,000 and a stable of eight thoroughbreds. The name of the winning horse: Avenue of Knowledge.