Letters: Fall 2014

Letters: Fall 2014

shutterstock_82320220BOB DYLAN IN ’64. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN IN ’73. CHEAP TRICK IN ’86.
TCNJ has brought in some sweet acts over the years, and students have flocked to them in droves, later safely storing those used tickets in scrapbooks, shoeboxes or digital archives. Tell us about your favorite concerts from your college years—on campus or off—for our next issue. In addition to your stories (no longer than 200 words, please), send us your photos, set lists and yes, those mangled old ticket stubs. Write us at magazine@tcnj.edu.

HOLMAN HALL’S MEMORABLE GEOMETRY

I taught math and math education at the college from 1967 to 1993, and my office was in Holman from the time it was built. One of the more ingenious features of the building’s construction is that the distance between the two leftmost columns (shown in the photo on the back of the spring issue of TCNJ Magazine) was bridged  at the base of each upper floor by pieces of steel and TCNJ_Spring2014_COVER_DogEarconcrete, which provided a floor on the top side, space for utilities in the middle and a ceiling below. What many probably failed to notice was that the floors were arched rather than flat. I am relatively certain that this shape made these pieces much stronger and allowed them to consume fewer materials in their manufacture.

The arched floor also provided an aid in teaching geometry. Students arrived with experience of Euclidean geometry, but we always had to discuss why this was not a very good description of our planet. Many would opine that the Earth’s curvature was on too vast a scale for them to feel, but they were usually intuitively certain that they would be able to detect a truly curved surface. I would then ask if they thought the floor below them was flat. Most would say yes, so we would walk down the hall to the north end of Holman. At that end, the arched floor-ceiling section was against a flat concrete crossbeam, and it was apparent that the center of the arch was more than three inches higher than the ends. The students gaped in awe, and I think many of them found it truly memorable.

Those whose offices were in the building found it memorable for another reason, which became apparent to me one day in the building’s first few years. One edge of my office was on the highest elevation of the arched floor/ceiling section beneath it. One day I felt the floor beneath my chair   move vertically and thought it was an earthquake. I later learned that John McIlroy, a slightly built professor, had been jogging in place and the arched floor had amplified the effects of his steps. Perhaps a troop of soldiers marching down the north-south hallway on the west side could have taken the building down, but I am glad no one ever established that by experiment.

Professor Emeritus David E. Boliver

“STEM IS HOT, BUT STEAM IS HOTTER”

I am delighted the college has gotten so “on board” with the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) trend. As the chapter chairman of the Princeton/Central Jersey Section of the IEEE Education Society, I have to say this is a very large feather in TCNJ’s cap. I would like to see the STEM program evolve and integrate the arts into the mix. Numerous studies have shown that all the various arts definitely enrich students’ technology experience because now, more than ever, technology and art are inextricably interlinked. The idea of STEAM—which adds “A” for the arts—has been proposed in some quarters. I hope the nation catches on. Or, starting small, I hope TCNJ does. My slogan (you heard it here first) is “STEM is hot, but STEAM is hotter.”

Bob Schroeder ’78

SEEKING A UNIVERSAL DEFINITION

thulsi groupI find the article on page 15 of the spring issue (“A Force To Be Reckoned With”) somewhat confusing, but you are not alone in contributing to that confusion. Perhaps I do not understand your meaning of the word “universe.” If you are thinking of our solar system when you refer to the “Big Bang,” I have no problem with that. However, my wife’s collegiate dictionary defines universe as all matter that exists in space. I fear that many scientists have a problem with what some would call ordinary terms: infinity, eternity, forever, always, etc. Scientists are constantly asking how big and how old the universe is. To say the universe began so many years ago is to beg the question, what was here (or there) before that? Are we yielding to biblical creationism? (You know, out of nothing.) Here is a question worth considering: If you could magically transport yourself to the 15-billion-light-year distance thought by some to be the size of “the universe,” and you were able to look off into the distance (you brought your telescopes with you), what do you think you might see?

Edgar U. Hemmingson
The writer is the husband of June Belli Hemmingson ’56.

DON’T HIDE YOUR AGE

While I like the new seal in many ways and appreciate the inclusion of elements from the TSC version, I cannot help but notice the lack of the year the college was founded—1855. It looks very odd and incomplete without the year. Having a long history as an educational institution is a very good thing!

Chris Meagher ’77

Editor’s note: As part of its agreement with Princeton University regarding the use of the name “College of New Jersey,” TCNJ only lists its year of founding when paired with the college’s original name. Therefore, it would be impractical to include the year within the college seal.

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