Notebook: July 2, 1997
Students Design Hair Dryer of the Future
Engineers Win a trip to Thailand
An innovative hair-dryer design won five nascent engineers a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, over spring break. After competing against six other teams of students in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 321: Engineering Design, Lina Jin '97, Andy Johnson '98, Matt Nuffort '98, Meeko Oishi '98, and Eric Young '98 were invited by the Manica Corporation, an electronics firm headquartered in Bangkok, to present their design to company executives. The students were accompanied by Associate Professor Daniel Nosenchuck, their instructor in the course, and Clay Gabler, the graduate-student teaching assistant.
Nosenchuck, an expert in fluid mechanics who consults for Manica and several other electronics firms, set students in last semester's MAE 321 the task of "designing a quiet hair dryer." He asked them to make it "a little more powerful than current models-2,000 watts instead of the typical 1,800 to 1,850 watts-and to aim for an acoustic level of about 60 decibels, which exists in an ordinary office with no machines clattering." The average dryer today, says Nosenchuck, is about 80 decibels.
In January, the CEO and chief engineer of Manica visited campus to judge the competition. Come spring break, the winners' first stop was Hong Kong, where Manica's purchasing department is located. Nosenchuck says, "The director of purchasing explained to the students why it is more efficient to do purchasing in a free-trade port, even if it is not where you do your manufacturing. That's why U.S. companies often can't compete with countries in East Asia that are purchasing through places like Hong Kong."
At Manica's headquarters in Bangkok, Nuffort recalls, "There we were, sitting at a table with Manica's CEO, design engineers and top-level management. They more or less turned to us and said, 'OK, what are we going to do now? How are we going to take your design and create something manufacturable?' "
It took a moment, says Nuffort, for the students-cum-consultants to realize "They were looking to us for expertise. It put a real significance on the education I've received at Princeton so far that, even as a junior, I could make a difference to this company." After "all of us brainstorming together," he believes, "We gave them some pretty good ideas."
Nosenchuck's students start, he says, "with pencil and paper. Sometimes I let them use chalk on the board. But I ask them not to go to the computer until they think their design is going to work, a conviction that can only be based on first principles." The students designed their dryers using ProEngineer, a CAD (computer-aided design) program that allows three-dimensional modeling. Says Nuffort, "You can spin the design around, look at everything in 3-D, change the dimensions easily. Then you export those files to a manufacturing computer. It (the computer) starts with a block of plastic, and cuts it out according to ProEngineer's instructions."
The team approach is necessary, says Nosenchuck, because "no single individual could create a complex system in the time we have available." In any case, he points out, "Team design is a regular procedure in industry.
"A lot of advanced engineering went into designing the dryer shell in terms of providing the right flow," says Nosen-chuck. Air is a gas, he points out, that is treated like a fluid. The students performed simulations using computational fluid dynamics. They tried housings of different geometries to ensure the flow didn't separate, which is inefficient.
So what's the secret of The Hair Dryer of the Future? Unwilling to spill too many beans about a design that may be patented, Nosenchuck says only that "it uses multiple blower fans within the housing (rather than the usual one), and a minimal number of structural components. Also, it provides a very low acoustic emission level with high flow rate."
Chess and Its Many Moves Explored
Chess players know that to "cook" a problem means to find an error in it. What they may not know is that the expression is a nod to chess historian and pundit E. B. Cook, Class of 1850, who composed his first chess problem while at Princeton and later published his problems in newspapers and magazines throughout the world. Cook's chess library has been combined with that of William M. Spackman *27, editor of the Chess Correspondent, for an exhibit titled The Art of Chess, on display in the Main Exhibition Gallery at Firestone Library through September 21. The exhibit includes commentaries, collections of problems, and other documents. Also on view are 16 chess sets loaned by Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Levene of Bedford, New York. These include a ceramic set by Doug Anderson pitting rock-and-roll musicians (Elvis Presley as king) against classical musicians (led by Leonard Bernstein).
Also at the library, through September 18 in the Leonard L. Milberg ['53] Gallery for the Graphic Arts, is Philobiblon: In Praise of Books and Libraries. The exhibition presents a short pictoral essay on the history of book collecting.
Class Act: Seminar Crosses Medicine's Cultural Boundaries (Vincanne Adams)
Health is living in resonance with the changing universe. For this reason, the primary concern of Ayurveda is digestion. That which cannot be digested disrupts movement within the body and unbalances the tridosha (humors), resulting in illness. All treatment must begin with correcting digestion.
-An Ayurvedic practitioner from southern India
Welcome to Ethnomedicine East and West, a Mathey College Freshman Seminar led by Vincanne Adams, assistant professor of anthropology. It's a sunny afternoon, and the subject is se, a term in classical Chinese medicine that means, roughly, the nonmaterial essence of a person's body, as revealed by facial expressions.
"Your se isn't visible to the untrained eye, but it can be discerned by a trained healer," Adams is saying, "so it really exists through the viewpoint of the doctor. What does this imply?"
"Well, that not everyone can read it," replies one student. "It depends on the skill and experience of the practitioner."
"Right. And those skills can only be passed down from individual to individual," says Adams.
"My first reaction was that the traditional healer is a lot like Sherlock Holmes," says another member of the class. "The doctors seem to be using a very rational process of scientific reasoning, based on their own ideas. It's not mystical, but they make it seem mystical."
"And to be effective, they need to know their patients," adds a third, "in the same way that you can't conceal how you're feeling from someone who knows you really well."
"Good point," says Adams. "Now, imagine a whole medical system based on that degree of sensitivity, and you'll begin to get a sense of how traditional Chinese medicine works."
Adams is a medical anthropologist-an explorer of abstract concepts like chi, karma, and yin/yang, which have guided Asian healers for centuries. Although these traditional ideas are still scoffed at by many westerners, that's starting to change, spurred by the growing acceptance of Eastern medical techniques like acupuncture and herbal therapy. "We all view our bodies culturally," observes Adams. "When we take a drug on the assumption that it will heal us, it's not unlike someone in China believing that illness comes from a blockage of chi energy, and that unblocking it will lead to a cure. Just because we can't define chi in our scientific terms doesn't mean it isn't real."
The Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford medical schools must agree, for they're all now sponsoring research into traditional healing. "I think," says Adams, "that there's a transition occuring."
The scientific foundations of modern medicine may seem as solid as a waxed hospital floor, but in fact the medical universe is constantly in flux, as new discoveries are added and other treatments tossed aside. For example: the careful methodology used by American physicians today-in which the controlled, double-blind study reigns supreme as the judge of what really works-dates back a mere 80-odd years, to the Flexner Report of 1910. U.S. medical practices had become cluttered with alternative remedies ranging from legitimate schools of homeopathy to the snake oils peddled by travelling quacks. This report, commissioned by the American Medical Association, laid down guidelines for the modern medical school, with its emphasis on microorganisms, synthetic drugs, and biochemical tests and models.
As a way of separating true cures from fakes, this system made a lot of sense: After all, "reality" is whatever can be proven scientifically. . . . Right? The problem is, most of the rest of the world has been practicing medicine very differently-and quite effectively-for thousands of years.
"We think of modern biomedicine as ultimate truth," says Adams. "But it can also be understood as a cultural truth, based on our own beliefs. Asking a shaman to appease the ghost of a dead relative may seem irrational to us, but for many people these ghosts are very real, and the treatment is rational and effective."
The 13 students in Adams's seminar (about half are premed) will be studying all three major Asian schools of medicine-Zhongyi (traditional Chinese medicine), Ayurvedic (Hindu) medicine, and the Tibetan system of rGyud bZhi. While other first-year students struggle with Hume and Kant, this group will be trying to grasp things like humoral theory (the idea that our bodies and health are controlled by the interplay of various nonspecific forces, such as wind, bile, and phlegm).
As this particular class draws to a close, an ex-student of Adams, a senior headed soon for medical school, shows slides from her recent six-month apprenticeship with a traditional Chinese doctor. Patients are seen receiving acupuncture complete with burning incense (a process called moxibustion)-"all part of a comprehensive strategy to relax the muscle at the acupressure points," notes the guest lecturer, "to open channels and allow chi to flow." Even more striking than the photos is the way this doctor-to-be blends the idea systems of East and West in her explanations.
As an undergraduate at Brown University, Adams was considering a physician's career herself when a paper on acupuncture drew her into medical anthropology. "I discovered an enormous literature on Chinese medicine that was being ignored," she recalls. While researching her senior thesis on acupuncture and stress reduction, she became fascinated with Tibetan medicine; since then the main focus of her research has been the medical practices of the people of Tibet (where she'll be travelling extensively next year).
"Tibetan medicine is diverse. There's a purely spiritual stream, and a more science-oriented stream," she says, "but all approaches start with a person's spirituality. To a Tibetan, karma is just as real as gravity is to us."
Keys to Health, from an Eastern Point of View
A reading list by Assistant Professor Vincanne Adams
The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine, by Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D. (Condon and Weed, 1983)-A thorough and accessible introduction to the foundations of traditional Chinese medicine, including the relationships between yinyang theory, qi and other bodily essences, and meridian theory.
Knowledge and the Scholarly Medical Traditions, edited by Don Bates (Cambridge University Press, 1995)-A collection of essays on three medical traditions: Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Greco-Western.
Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine, by Bhagwan Dash (Bansaol and Co., 1978)-A slightly esoteric and historical introduction to the fundamentals of Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu medical practices.
Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry: The Diamond Healing, by Terry Clifford (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1984)-An accessible introduction to the fundamentals of Tibetan medicine, including the relationships between religion, healing, and medical theory.
Seven Professors Retire
Seven professors have transferred to emeritus status: Hans C. Aarsleff (English); Philip W. Anderson (physics); Robert J. Clark *74 (art and architecture); David J. Gross (physics); Antony Jameson (mechanical and aerospace engineering); Robert E. Kuenne (economics); and Edward C. Taylor Jr. (chemistry)
Aarsleff, who came to Princeton in 1956, specializes in the history of the study of language and the understanding of how that study draws on conceptions of the nature of language, especially in theological and philosophical terms. He taught many courses, from large lectures on American, English, and European literatures to courses on Old English, Old Norse, and Medieval Literature and seminars in the history of the study of language.
Anderson, the Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, came to Princeton in 1975. He is a major figure in the development of the quantum theory of solids and fluids. In 1977 he was cowinner of the Nobel Prize for physics. He has made major contributions to the theories of magnetism, superconductivity, superfluidity, and disordered solids.
Clark, who joined the faculty in 1968, is an expert in the field of architecture and the decorative arts from 1750 to the present. His teaching included lectures and seminars in modern architecture and on the arts of the United States. Especially popular were his undergraduate seminars on the American house and his Mellon Seminars for students working on dissertations in the history of art.
Gross, the Thomas D. Jones Professor of Mathematical Physics, is one of the founders of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear interactions in fundamental particle physics, and a pioneer in string theory. He joined the faculty in 1969 and taught courses at all levels, from freshman physics to advanced graduate courses, and is especially known for his graduate courses on quantum field theory. Many of his graduate students and postdoctoral collaborators have become influential theoretical physicists.
Jameson, a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Aerospace Engineering, is an expert on computational aerodynamics. He pioneered in the creation of computer models that simulate the aerodynamics of an aircraft as it approaches the speed of sound. He came to Princeton as professor of mechanical and aersopace engineering in 1980.
Kuenne has been a member of the faculty since 1956. He taught general equilibrium theory at the graduate level and microeconomic theory in the undergraduate program. He designed and taught for 30 years a course entitled Analyses of Capitalism (also listed in Humanistic Studies), which used works of fiction, social criticism, social philosophy, and economics to examine attacks upon and defenses of capitalism.
Taylor, the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry, is an authority on synthetic methodology in organic and heterocyclic chemistry. His lab recently designed and synthesized a series of cytotoxic enzyme inhibitors, three of which have reached advanced-stage clinical evaluation for the treatment of solid tumors.
New center: A $10 million gift from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation will establish the Bendheim Center for Finance. The gift honors the foundation's president, Robert A. Bendheim '37. The new center will focus on scholarship and teaching in finance as it relates to issues of economic policy such as asset pricing, corporate finance, and the international movement of capital, and enable Princeton to offer a certificate program to provide undergraduates with the background to enter corporate or financial management.
Bendheim, who majored in economics, is the retired CEO of the M. Lowenstein Corporation, a textile-manufacturing firm, and the president of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, which provides funding for medical research and New York City public schools and youth programs.
The Lowenstein Foundation also has supported the Center for International Studies and the the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Child Wellbeing and Development, which honors Bendheim and his daughter, Lynn Thoman '76.
Lifetime achievement award: Theodore Weiss, professor of English and creative writing, emeritus, and his wife, Renée, were awarded the first PEN/Nora Magid Lifetime Achievement Award on May 15 in New York. In 1943 the couple began publishing the Quarterly Review of Literature, which in 1978 became the QRL Poetry Series.
New administrator: Robert l. Hutchings became assistant dean for academic affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School May 1. He has had extensive experience in international relations, including service as a special adviser to former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III '52 and as the director of European affairs for the National Security Council, helping to devise strategies that helped bring about the end of the Cold War.
Hutchings, who has spent four years as a fellow and a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will oversee the Wilson School's new one-year executive education master's degree program.