Certara, 100 Overlook Center, Suite 101, Princeton 08540. 888-708-7444. Edmundo Muniz, chief executive officer. www.certara.com.
Certara, a drug development consulting company, will partner with Centers for Disease Control to create OpenMDI (Open Medicolegal Death Investigation), a national system that will collect and share mortality data efficiently, allowing CDC to respond rapidly to critical public health priorities, such as tracking and understanding the toxicology behind drug overdoses from opioids
“Enabling the CDC to upgrade its historical analysis approach to one that leverages predictive analytics and ‘near real time’ data to address global health challenges is at the core of Certara’s mission,” said Certara’s CEO Dr. Edmundo Muniz. “We are privileged to be working alongside the CDC in creating a death surveillance system that aggregates disparate data in a secure and private structure facilitating decision-support analysis, visualization and reporting of toxicology and other key drug-induced death information to address the drug overdose crisis in this country.”
More than 47,450 Americans die from an opioid overdose every year (that includes prescription opioids and heroin), 1 according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). More than 70,200 Americans are estimated to have died from a drug overdose in 2017. The sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths.
The chemical technology company has moved from 318 to 243 Wall Street.
Henry Horn, 77, on March 14. He was a biologist who founded and directed Princeton University’s program in environmental studies. He studied the growth of trees, the dispersal of seeds, and the social behavior of butterflies. A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 5, at 1:30 p.m. at the university chapel.
Leonard J. LaPlaca, 95, on March 10. For more than 60 years he was the co-owner of Nassau Interiors, a Nassau Street furniture store.
Frank L. Tamasi, 87, on March 10. A 60-year resident of Princeton, was a supervisor at the university and also worked at ETS.
Richard Wayne Stryeski, 72, on March 10. He worked at IBM (Lexmark) and later owned Totally Pets and Hobby in Hamilton.
Andrew B. Swanson, 61, on January 30. He worked for Highlands Insurance Co. in Ewing. A memorial service will be held at on Saturday, April 13, at 11 a.m. at Fellowship United Methodist Church, Seventh Avenue and Garden Street in Haddon Heights.
William Paul Jacobs, 99, on March 3. He was a biology professor at Princeton University where he studied the hormonal control of plant development. A memorial will take place Saturday, April 6, at noon at Mountain Lakes House.
For all his many academic accomplishments, Jacobs’ life story also contains one exceptional experience far removed from any classroom. As a graduate student in the winter of 1946, Jacobs took a weekend off to go skiing in Yosemite National Park. Encountering an icy slope, he took an alternate trail through the woods and lost his way in the mountains. He spent 11 days lost in the wilderness, surviving a blizzard and 5 degree temperatures on his first night, eating lichen and snowmelt. He was rescued only after his parents and the ski patrol had given him up for dead.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, James Forrestal Campus, Box 451, Princeton 08543. 609-243-2000. Stewart Prager, director. www.pppl.gov.
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Princeton University will continue to manage and operate the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at least through 2022.
“We are delighted to have this contract extension and continue the critical work at PPPL,” said David McComas, vice president of PPPL and professor of astrophysical sciences. “The university is committed to advancing research and science in the service of society, which includes revitalizing its long-term collaboration with DOE.”
PPPL researches the physics of plasmas (charged gases) and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for homeland security applications to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. In 2015 a synthetic muscle developed at the lab was sent to the International Space Station for study. (U.S. 1, April 22, 2015.)
Princeton has been the PPPL contractor since its inception in 1951, when it was called Project Matterhorn and under the leadership of Lyman Spitzer. PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories overseen by DOE’s Office of Science.
One of the PPPL’s main goals is to attempt to create fusion power, a potential energy source using the same physical processes that keep stars burning.
As part of the agreement, the University extended the lease on the land PPPL occupies for another 30 years with a one-time payment of $1 for as long as Princeton remains the laboratory’s management and operations contractor.
Princeton will continue to co-sponsor the Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiments (FLARE), a powerful new device for advancing research into magnetic reconnection that was assembled at the university and will be housed at PPPL. The agreement specified that the university will fund upgrades to the machine and the DOE will fund project management, infrastructure and commissioning.
PPPL researchers will have priority access to a new suite of computing clusters that are run by the university and housed within the Princeton High-Performance Computing Research Center.
“We look forward to increasing close collaborations between the University and the DOE,” McComas said.
Alan Krueger, a well known economist and Princeton professor who served as an advisor under presidents Clinton and Obama, has died at age 58.
Princeton police were called to his home and found him unresponsive on Saturday, March 16. According to a statement made by his family and published by Princeton University, Krueger died by suicide.
Krueger made groundbreaking contributions to the field of economics, included a 1993 study on the minimum wage. He compared the labor market for fast food restaurants in New Jersey, where the minimum wage had increased, to Pennsylvania, where it had not. The study, which Krueger published together with David Card, showed that New Jersey’s minimum wage increase had no effect on employment. His work was often cited by advocates of raising the minimum wage nationwide and in New Jersey. A bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 is expected to be passed by the legislature and signed by Phil Murphy this year.
Krueger was assistant secretary of economic policy and later served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Obama. In a statement, the former president praised Krueger’s service during the economic recession:
“He spent the first two years of my administration helping to engineer our response to the worst financial crisis in 80 years and to successfully prevent the chaos from spiraling into a second Great Depression,” Obama said. “He helped us return the economy to growth and sustained job creation, to bring down the deficit in a responsible way, and to set the stage for wages to rise again.”
As a professor, much of Krueger’s research centered on labor markets. He was chief economist for the Labor Department under Bill Clinton, an experience that led him to vow never to return to government.
Krueger told the Princeton Alumni Weekly that he broke this vow in 2008 after the treasury secretary gave him a call: “Tim Geithner called right around Christmas 2008 and said, ‘The economy’s in a free fall. Why don’t you come to Treasury and work on big, consequential things?’ That was his line. And I couldn’t say no.”
During his tenure in the Obama administration, Krueger developed a theory called the “Great Gatsby curve,” which showed that countries with greater inequality had lower inter-generational mobility.
He also argued for creating a tax credit to encourage businesses to hire new workers. According to the New York Times, he was able to convince a skeptical Obama that this policy would be a cost-effective way to create jobs. (The tax credit was defeated in congress.)
His recent policy proposals included having the government crack down on monopolies and ban “non-compete” clauses and “no-poaching” agreements between companies that restrict the freedom of workers to leave their jobs for new employment.
The week before he died, Krueger delivered a lecture at Stanford on universal basic income.
As a researcher, Krueger was part of a movement that emphasized scientific study of what was happening in the real world over what traditional economic theory predicted. Some economists call this movement, which Krueger helped lead, “the credibility revolution.”
For example, his study on minimum wage went against theory that dictated minimum wage increases would cause unemployment to rise.
In 2007 he wrote a research paper with data showing that there is no link between terrorism and poverty and lack of education, as was commonly assumed at the time. Instead, terrorists tend to come from middle class, college-educated backgrounds.
In another study, an analysis of already-published data, Krueger argued that educating the children of the poor was an excellent investment in the future of the economy, although not the only solution to poverty.
He also made groundbreaking studies of the environment, the effect of technology on the labor market, and other subjects.
His latest book, scheduled to be published in June, is called “Rockanomics” and is about the music industry, and how it can be a model for businesses that have to adapt to technological change.
After a few frigid winter weeks in Princeton I had had enough. So I and 75,000 of my closest friends packed our bags and boarded planes to balmy Austin, Texas.
My pals and I were headed to South by Southwest, the annual gathering of coders, creators, and tattooed cool kids that has changed Texas’ capital forever. Once the city playing fourth or fifth fiddle in the state has become a global tech titan and American cultural icon.
Though I was glad for a break from the cold, my cause in both places has been the same: As part of a national research project at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, I have been studying America’s innovation hotspots over the last year. The CITEE Initiative (citee.darden.virginia.edu) asks questions like: What assets make up the machinery of the innovation economy? Which policies and programs really get the gears turning? And how can leaders be sure the work of capital-driven companies create local benefits in the long run?
Across the dozens of metros in our study, two could hardly be more different on the surface than Princeton and Austin. And any time 75,000 visitors (and 200,000 locals) get together to discuss disruption and listen to 10,000 bands over a few million drinks, some weird stuff is likely to go down.
But the biggest surprise that came from my week in Texas is just how many things the two places have in common. Really, though. Hear me out.
Princeton and Austin: Sister Cities in the Making? Ok, it’s true — beyond a gargantuan annual street party — there are more than just a few things that set Austin and the Trenton/Princeton Metro apart.
Contrasted with Central Jersey are Austin’s block after block lined with live music venues, all with open windows and doors till 2 a.m. Palm trees and Pedicabs. Cacti and Cowboys. Cranes in the sky building new towers, condos, and hotels. And again, to my relief, 80-degree weather in the middle of March.
But looking just a little beneath that surface the similarities emerge. And for the study of innovation economies they are pretty remarkable.
Both are top-class innovation communities built around world-renowned research universities. State capitols and city governments are actively supporting startups and tech industry growth.
Global companies’ headquarters hire for high-quality jobs, inject billions into local economies, and spend their days actively reinventing industries. Partly because of these concentrations of activity, insane traffic creates headaches along the highways that run through the regions’ hearts.
I’m guessing there are more than a few eyebrows raising at these comparisons. Sure, both cities have great universities. But state schools and private universities are totally different animals. The characteristics of the Austin economy and the history of Trenton politics on their own hint at some truly Texas-size divides.
Here’s the reason to take the similarities seriously: Just a generation ago, Austin had almost all the key ingredients to its current success under its feet. It just hadn’t put them to use yet. Then, one day, a crew of people got their heads together and started working toward some similar (if a bit ambitious and hare-brained) goals. Some of them came true — most probably didn’t.
And as an outsider looking in, I think Princeton and Trenton stand in a very similar place today to where Texas’s capital stood just a generation ago.
Making Central Jersey “The Austin of the East.” If that sounds ridiculous, let me go further. The truth is the Trenton/Princeton region enjoys a set of competitive advantages that Austin just can’t compete with.
First is an advantage of legacy. Any real examination of the history of innovation in the United States points early and often to the 25 miles around Nassau Hall. This is America’s first Silicon Valley. And where many see a region challenged by big demographic shifts and long-run deindustrialization, I see one that has showed its grit with maybe the longest string of regional reinventions in the history of the country.
A second is the advantage of geography. While it was great to bask in the Texas weather for a week, it was a real pain getting there. This is not a problem that Princeton suffers. Now Central Jersey’s proximity to global power centers for money and politics are oft-discussed as an advantage for those who live and work here. But a bigger opportunity to chase might be making sure as many people as possible that pass by on their way between New York City and Washington, D.C., feel the need to contribute to the work here as well.
A third idea is to look at the weird and wacky research happening in the research labs and R&D centers in the area. When the app economy has run its course (soon) consumers, creators, investors, and educators will be looking for structurally different ways to see the world. And investigating these kinds of questions is this area’s specialty.
One more point of advantage is, I’ll say it, the weather. Not because it’s good, but exactly because it’s bad. Fewer Austin-esque spring afternoons and the punishing cold in winter do founders the favor of needing to find something productive to do indoors. Like work. And think, and make, and build. Maybe create the future.
And a final reason to think in these hopelessly optimistic terms is the bare fact something here is really working. Things are happening: Momentum building in the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council. The work of the Keller Center. Deep research happening at PRISM and world-changing research at the Andlinger Center. Google AI Labs. Princeton-born Universal Display Corporation poised to lead in the era of flexible phones (see story, page 24). And on and on. The list of big wins and brand-name announcements is so extensive that any metro of millions would blush to announce them all.
Another transformative moment for the Trenton/Princeton metro is in the cards. So in the way some frontier universities once declared themselves the “Harvards of the West” — maybe a moment comes soon to declare Central Jersey the “Austin of the East.”
Next Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27, the Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) will host its annual research forum and feature as usual cutting-edge presentations on some of those weird and wacky sciences, including topological materials, quantum computing, and something called nanoreplication. You know, the kinds of critical research subjects that might change the world forever in a decade but I am hopeless to understand.
What is not so hard to understand is the story that hangs all these things together.
Your city has a legacy — a history I have been studying for months and am only beginning to understand. But the purpose of any history is to help make a better future. There are major challenges to be sure. But the way it seems best to understand concerns and write the next history is to see these challenges in the shadow of your actual strengths.
Here, there are many strengths to build that story with.
Jayson White is an entrepreneur and urban innovation researcher, and is the co-author of “The Next American City” with former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. At the University of Virginia’s CITEE Entrepreneurship Ecosystems Initiative, White and his colleagues are researching small and mid-size American metros’ startup growth potential, and advocating for high-impact ideas to take hold in key cities across the United States. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite all the advances in smartphone technology since 2008, the actual shape of an antique first generation iPhone doesn’t look remarkably different from today’s advanced models, aside from being a bit smaller and squatter. Every phone is still a slim, glassy rectangle just like it has been for the last decade.
But Universal Display Corporation, the Ewing-based company that developed the phosphorescent organic LED technology that is used in high-end cell phone screens, is paving the way to what some believe will be a new era in wild electronics screen designs: foldable, rollable, and flexible models, that will soon hit the market. Designers can now realistically dream of creating a tablet computer that rolls up to the size of a pen.
Among those who have dreamed of having a single device that combined the portability and pocketability of a phone with the large screen of a tablet is Michael Hack, vice president and general manager of OLED lighting and custom displays at UDC. Hack, who has worked with the company for 20 years, is a scientist who earned his doctorate at Cambridge University in England and has helped UDC create the tiny, extremely bright and extremely efficient PHOLED components that help make science fictional devices like rollable screens possible.
Hack will speak at an upcoming research symposium hosted by the Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) on Tuesday, March 26, at Maeder Hall at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center. Hack will speak at 1:30 p.m. on the first day of the two-day event. The symposium begins at 8 a.m. and goes to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Princeton faculty, technology business leaders, venture capitalists, and researchers across the materials research and engineering community will give talks, present research, and lead workshops.
Other notable speakers include Stephen R. Forrest, founding director of the New Jersey Advanced Technology Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials (POEM); Nobel prize winner and Princeton physicist Duncan Michael Haldane; PRISM director Craig B. Arnold; physicist and astronomer Alison Sweeney; materials researcher Romain Fardel of Modern Meadow; and scientist Jan Ringalda of Thermo Fisher Scientific Company.
Hack said consumers will likely be surprised with the radical smart phone designs that will be hitting the market over the next few years, and the speed with which they are released. Already, companies have built prototype devices that hint of a rollable future. At an industry convention last year, electronics maker LG showed off a prototype TV that rolled up into a box, similar to a projector screen but with no projector, which it plans to launch as a consumer product.
Samsung’s Infinity Flex display announced in November is the first of these commercial foldable devices. The display allows the tablet to fold into the shape of the smart phone with no crease in the screen. Huawei and Lenovo are also planning foldable phones. As with most first-generation consumer electronics, Samsung’s model is priced out of reach of most smartphone buyers: the Galaxy Fold costs nearly $2,000.
Hack noted that the consumer product cycle usually follows this pattern, with MP3 players and DVD players starting off as expensive luxuries only to become commonplace as manufacturing ramped up.
It’s a revolution long dreamed of by Hack and others at UDC. Hack grew up in England, where his father was an engineer. He graduated from Cambridge with a doctorate and later worked for Xerox, where he worked on flat panel display technology. Rollable screens is a longtime goal of the company.
Universal Display contributes to the foldable screen market in two ways: First, it owns patents on technologies related to phosphorescent organic LED displays and secondly, it manufactures the materials used in this type of display and sells them to companies that make screens. (Most of the world’s screen manufacturers use UDC technology, mostly in smartphones.) Phosphorescent LEDs, based on discoveries made by Princeton University researchers in the 1990s, are extremely efficient compared to their conventional counterparts. Where a regular organic LED turns about 25 percent of the energy put into it into light, with the rest being heat, a phosphorescent LED is near 100 percent light. Currently, PHOLED displays are made with red, blue and green diodes: UDC makes phosphorescent red and green diodes, but they don’t yet manufacture blue ones, so these are made with traditional OLED materials using technology developed by Kodak.
PHOLED screens can be much thinner and brighter than conventional displays. Darice Liu, director of investor relations and corporate communications for UDC, says that in 2013 Samsung, which was just using PHOLED red diodes, switched over to green ones, their devices saw a 25 percent increase in battery life. UDC is currently developing blue diodes, and Liu says that when they come out, manufacturers who adopt them can expect a further 25 percent gain in battery life.
PHOLEDs are part of a suite of technologies that have made foldable screens possible. Making an entire rollable phone will require every single component of the phone to be flexible: from screens, to the battery, to the circuitry.
Take, for instance, the surface of the phone itself. Until now, screens have been covered by high strength glass because it is highly transparent and does not scratch when abused by the user. They also used glass as a backing material. A phone surface that gets scratched and cloudy would be worse than the downside of glass, which is its vulnerability to being shattered. Hack says that recent advances in plastic technology and scratchproof coatings have allowed plastic screens to perform well enough to be used in commercial products. Another major hurdle to flexible plastic is preventing it from creasing. Now, the glass backing has been largely replaced by plastics, and plastic covers will make phones extremely more durable in addition to allowing them to be built in new forms. “Plastic on plastic is essentially unbreakable,” Liu says. “A lot of new applications can materialize if you remove the rigidity of glass.”
Other companies are experimenting with extremely thin flexible glass, which potentially could be used instead.
It’s not just smartphones that could be revolutionized by rollable technology. Tablets, traditional computers, and as-yet unimagined categories of device could be completely re-imagined or invented.
The flexible trend actually started out four years ago with the introduction of curved edges on smartphones, along with curved screen televisions. Organic LEDs were key to these devices. Since they are inherently flexible, the tiny diodes can be mounted on a wide variety of surfaces.
All of this could be leading up to a device that UDC has long held up as a kind of holy grail of communications technology: a “universal communication device” that would look like a pen but have a full-color display that rolls out for use. Right now the communicator only exists in concept art and in a few extremely rough prototypes at UDC headquarters on Graphics Drive in Ewing. But Hack says it gets closer to reality every day.
Currently there are about 1.6 billion smartphones in the world, with 400 million using UDC’s OLED technology. The next frontier for UDC is televisions, as currently less than 1 percent of them are made with OLEDs.
UDC is not all about screens however. The company is also developing PHOLED lighting which can be created in strips and applied to any surface. So far, this technology has caught on the quickest in the automotive world, with luxury automakers BMW, Mercedes, and Audi beginning to use OLED tail lights in some of their cars. The light weight and low power consumption of OLEDs make them appealing, and Hack says designers are experimenting with using them on the interior surfaces of cars as well.
Currently, UDC is focused on two major research projects: the first is creating blue PHOLED emitters, which would enable all-PHOLED devices. The second is a manufacturing technique that would allow emitters to be printed on surfaces like an inkjet printer. This would drive down the cost of PHOLED screens, making OLED TV screens cheaper and more practical. “By some estimates there will be 10 million OLED TV sets by 20201. We believe the market will have grown to 200 million plus units by then,” Liu says.
The Route 1 corridor has a tradition of pioneering television technology. Color television was invented at Sarnoff Labs, which also created the world’s first liquid crystal flat screen displays. UDC’s core technology was developed at Princeton University, and Hack says he’s proud of his company’s deep ties to the region and the university.
Liu says people in the industry are a bit sick of hearing references to “Minority Report,” the 2002 sci-fi movie that showed a near future world with advanced computer technology everywhere. But nevertheless, she says we may soon see screens on transparent surfaces, as in “Minority Report,” as well as screens built into mirrors, or in heads-up displays for cars.
While the initial foldable phones are niche products for “early adopters” and tech junkies, and will probably be manufactured in very small quantities, Liu predicts they will be adopted quickly as consumers see the value in having a two-in-one product. Future foldable phones will likely be cheaper and have any initial bugs worked out. “I carry a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop with me when I go on business trips,” Liu says. “If I could only carry two of those, that’s great.”
Universal Display Corporation Inc. (OLED), 375 Phillips Boulevard, Ewing 08618. 609-671-0980. Steven Abramson, CEO. www.udcoled.com.
I am surprised at the faith intelligent people put in charts and numbers. Last week the chief U.S. strategist for a big investment company said on CNBC: “$2,800 (for the S&P 500) seems to be a pretty important inflection point. Even if you take it back further — really for the last few months — we’ve been in that trading range. Usually you get some kind of pull back from a big bottom like that so…” yada yada yada. He might as well have said, “We’ve flipped a coin ten times, and we’ve had six heads in a row, so, you know, we’re due for some tails.”
People see patterns in everything, which is why there are constellations, tea leaves, and stock charts. We enjoy talking about the patterns we see. My intelligent friends have patiently explained to me the meaning of financial charts. I have some experience with this because my father was a chartist before desktop computers. He paid me to dig weekly closing prices out of stacks of Barron’s so that he could chart moving averages. Dad showed me the familiar patterns like double top, triple bottom, and head-and-shoulders.
Dad once had the top two best-performing stocks for the year, which is a real feat. Later in his life, I took his theories to Commodities Corporation in Princeton and tested them against historical data. The results? Entirely neutral. Dad used the price data as we might use tea leaves: to verify what he already believed. Fortunately, he had a strong understanding of value and potential.
A price is one piece of data, but, like coin flips, last week’s price does not dictate this week’s price. Underlying price data are earnings data, which are also full of surprises. Recently well-paid financial analysts were surprised by the actual earnings at iRobot (IRBT, 64 percent more than the analysts’ consensus estimate), Skechers (SKX, 34 percent), Universal Display (OLED, 18 percent), Trex (TREX, 16 percent), nLight (LASR, 100 percent), Twitter (TWTR, 44 percent), and many others.
Even within a company earnings are hard to forecast. They depend on how many products you can deliver (Tesla), the impact of new technology (department stores versus the Internet), the disappearance of a trend (Nvidia sales dropped when Bitcoin miners stopped buying servers), the emergence of a trend (Ulta sales increased because Kylie Jenner said so), and whether or not management is actually involved in the business.
This last one mystifies me. Like picking stocks, people think they can run companies “by the numbers” — and without any real interest in the products or the customer experience. I have watched rooms of people pore over spreadsheets without ever asking a meaningful question like, “Do customers recommend our products?” Had he shopped in his own stores, the hedge fund manager who is now burying Sears and K-Mart might have discovered their frustrating check-out process.
Retail is hard, but, if you think like a customer, you might succeed. Ulta (ULTA) is a chain of stores that offers makeup in every price range. I know that you can check out at Ulta because I have seen my wife and daughter do it. Since Ulta sells makeup, you might think their margins are a zillion percent, but they are only 36 percent. By comparison, Macy’s has 41 percent margins.
Macy’s (M) also has sales of $26 billion and profits of $1.1 billion versus Ulta sales of $5.9 billion and profits of $555 million. After considering cash and debt, you could buy Macy’s for $11 billion, but you would pay $18.4 billion for Ulta, which has been the greatest stock of the last 10 years. Ulta climbed from $6 in 2009 to $340 today.
Is Ulta a perfect company? It earns 3 percent on its enterprise value, which is OK for a growth company. More insiders are selling than buying. The influential Jenner/Kardashian family lends its brand to Ulta. However, when Kylie Jenner announced that she no longer used Snapchat (SNAP), the stock dropped by 6 percent. What the Jenners give, they can take away. At 21, Kylie Jenner is the youngest self-made billionaire ever. Perhaps you should be reading her column.
I would not buy Ulta for two reasons. First, I don’t know anything about makeup. Second, it seems rich. For the price of Ulta, you could buy Universal Display (OLED), the licenser of OLED technology, Trex (TREX), the maker of plastic lumber, NICE (NICE), the leader in contact center and back office software, and still have $500 million left over. Is Ulta going to double to $36 billion? I give Universal Display a better shot of doubling first.
I prefer companies that make core technologies that may provide a better quality of life. The more complex the tool, the greater the potential value, and the less likely that the business will be copied. One of these is Nvidia (NVDA), a company that is best known for its computer graphics accelerators. It turns out that managing graphics — lighting up 8 million pixels in a high-resolution screen in real time — is more demanding than central processing — chunking ever faster through one instruction at a time. When IBM built its Watson Artificial Intelligence computer, it turned for processors not to Intel, but to Nvidia.
If we humans are pattern-seekers, artificial intelligence (AI) is the perfection of that desire. Our memories are short and we tend to have a poor handle on probability; AI, though, can learn from human experience, and, when sufficiently trained, learn competitively by playing against another AI. It catalogs outcomes and tests new strategies faster than humanly possible. AI has applications for cars, health, defense, photography, shopping, design, and virtually anything you can imagine. We are living in the age of automating everything.
You can get a sense for Nvidia’s breadth by visiting its developer site at developer.nvidia.com where you’ll find platforms for self-driving cars (Drive), virtual design (Designworks), embedded AI computing (Jetpack), photo-realistic gaming (Gameworks), and the Nvidia Deep Learning Institute (Computeworks). Even more important than its chips is the ecosystem that Nvidia has created, which includes 500,000 developers and 19,000 organizations. While other companies’ chips struggle to leapfrog Nvidia’s technology, Nvidia provides a complete solution in which developers have invested and which they will probably continue to support.
I first recommended Nvidia to friends four years ago at $22, and they have often asked if they should sell it. The stock reached $281 in September, 2018, and is at $169 today — up from $131 on December 1. In the last year NVDA earned $4.1 billion or 4.3 percent on its Enterprise Value of $94.9 billion. Nvidia has $7.4 billion in cash. In the last quarter insiders have purchased 91,000 more shares than they sold.
In 2018 IBM delivered Summit, the world’s fastest super computer, to the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Summit uses 28,000 Nvidia chips. In a test of Summit a genomics team solved a problem in one hour that would take 30 years on a personal computer. Is the growth in AI over? It’s just getting started.
Patterns are full of noise — up and down spikes that, from a distance, fade like mountains and valleys into the horizon. Nvidia benefited from the hysteria over Bitcoin, which has subsided, and the stock has been penalized for the loss of sales to that ephemeral activity. Many more substantial opportunities loom before Nvidia that will make the Bitcoin fall-off look like a pothole.
If you like patterns the two charts pictured above show the growth of the U.S. money supply and the S&P 500 between 1960 and 2016. They have a similar curve, but in the S&P chart you can see the hysterias of the Internet boom of the late 1990s and the real estate boom of the 2000s. To compensate for these shocks and to cover our deficits, the government increased the money supply, which tends to increase asset prices. Those assets have established the greatest fortunes in our country: Jeff Bezos (Amazon: AMZN), Bill Gates (Microsoft: MSFT), Warren Buffet (Berkshire-Hathaway: BRK-A, BRK-B), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook: FB), and Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Alphabet: GOOG).
The good news is that we have an opportunity to participate in the growth of future fortunes.
Send feedback to email@example.com. Investment recommendations are solely those of the columnists, and are presented for discussion purposes. Columnists may own shares in recommendations. Investors are advised to conduct their own research and that past stock performance is no guarantee of future price.
A year ago, as building contractors readied to repair a section of the roof on the 1719 William Trent House, they discovered an object that wasn’t supposed to be there. And they had questions. Why was this object — an old leather shoe — placed there out of sight? Who did it, and when?
Maybe it was dragged there by a rodent or thrown there by a workman … or maybe it was an object associated with a magic ritual … A magic ritual? Yes, that’s the likely answer, says anthropologist M. Chris Manning.
On Sunday, April 7, Manning and other speakers will explore this topic at the William Trent House visitor center in a panel discussion titled “The Mystery of the Shoe in the Roof.” She will share her master’s thesis research, drawing from her paper, “Homemade Magic: Concealed Deposits in Architectural Contexts in the Eastern United States.”
The event is one of several taking place this year celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Trent House.
The mystery of the shoe panel includes Colonial Williamsburg shoemaker Valentine Povinelli, who will show how he was able to date the footwear to the first half of the 19th century and determine its likely ownership and use. And historic preservation consultant and architectural historian Kevin Joy will describe changes made to the Trent House throughout history, exploring how a shoe made in the 1800s might have been concealed in a structure built in 1719.
Concurrent with the panel (and through May) visitors can view an exhibit featuring images of the Trent House as it was modified over the years.
During the period of colonial America residents often hid objects in and around homes in a practice scholars describe as magico-religious or folk rituals, says Manning. The concealments, also known as deposits, were believed to protect the home from spiritual and physical harm. They also provided protection and well-being to the people who lived there and the animals on the property. Discoveries in the United States concentrate in the Northeast, especially New England, and the Midwest.
It is a common misconception among many archeologists that early English colonists did not practice folk magic and rituals since they were devout Christians and religious authority figures opposed such practices. Further, such practices contradicted scientific reasoning. But, says Manning, historical evidence suggests that most colonists weren’t opposed to employing a little magical assistance from time to time.
Early in her studies, Manning found that scholarly research had focused on populations from the African diaspora and Native American nations, thereby creating the perception that Europeans are too sophisticated to engage in rituals.
In fact, says Manning, rituals were shared among populations from several countries and backgrounds, creating merged practices that bridged various cultures.
While Manning’s research on concealed objects in the Eastern United States focuses on the colonial time period, she draws on religious and folk practices that reach back to pre-Christian times.
Concealed objects are usually discovered when an organization is renovating or demolishing a historic structure. Objects are often found in chimneys but also in fireplaces, under floors, above ceilings, in roofs, around doors and windows, under stairs, and within foundations. In addition to private residences, objects have been found in hospitals, work houses, public houses, and factories.
The types of objects found include garments and textiles, dolls, horse skulls, iron tools and implements, horseshoes, painted and inscribed marks and symbols, printed and written texts and charms, cats, and bottles.
Of all the objects that have been concealed, you may wonder, why shoes?
Manning points out that throughout history the shoe has played a symbolic role in many narratives related to life lessons, luck, protection, and power:
An example often used by scholars relates to the power of a shoe to combat evil. According to legend, an Augustinian monk and rector in Buckinghamshire, England, once forced the Devil into a boot. Based on this reported conquest, shoes and boots were thought to have the power to ward off or trap malevolent spirts. Thus, footwear was often concealed in chimneys or other vulnerable openings of a building.
Shoes and stockings are used as containers for rewards given for good behavior. Consider the practice of hanging a stocking in front of the fireplace chimney on Christmas Eve.
Shoes are also associated with travel and one’s journey through life. Consider the guidance that you should not judge a person’s actions until you have walked a mile in his shoes.
A baby’s first shoe is often bronzed by his parents, a practice that relates to a belief that keeping his first shoe will protect the child from harm.
Perhaps the most widely recognized symbolism of the shoe, writes Manning, is the idea that it bears a forever link to the person who wears it, and in some way, retains the essence or soul of that person. Because a shoe tends to maintain its shape, and thus the shape of the foot of the person who wore it, that shoe can be a form of image magic with more potency than an unworn shoe. It is, in effect, a portable footprint.
Not everyone accepts the idea that shoes or other objects found within building structures were placed there as deliberate acts associated with folk culture. Their view is that they were tossed into a wall cavity as rubbish or dragged there by stray animals.
But, counters Manning, patterns suggest otherwise. Today at least 2,000 concealed deposits containing one or more shoes have been discovered; they tend to reside near chimneys and fireplaces; and shoes tend to be left-footed. At least 300 deposits have been located in the U.S.
Using physical objects to bring luck or give oneself an advantage is still used today. Athletes and fans are known for practicing “sports magic.” Manning shares a story about a Boston Red Sox fan working on the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in 2008. He inserted a Red Sox jersey into the concrete structure with the intent of cursing the Yankees with bad luck.
When other construction workers, all Yankees fans, discovered his mischief, they spent hours working to locate the jersey, eventually retrieving it from under two feet of hardened concrete.
Athletes and fans are not alone in practices related to luck. Elected officials have been known to carry good luck objects with them while campaigning.
Manning became interested in history growing up in Ohio, where her parents were public school teachers. They spent many summer months traveling across the country, and those vacations gave her opportunities to learn about different customs and ways of doing things, she says.
She attended Indiana’s Ball State University, where she earned a master’s in anthropology with a focus in archeology. Today she serves as the curator of Ohio’s Overfield Tavern Museum. She also serves as a special project coordinator at the Miami Valley Veterans Museum and has held positions at the Nantucket Historical Association; Dovetail Cultural Resource Group; and other organizations.
Manning finds that interest in concealed objects and folk rituals is growing among professionals and the public. She encourages individuals who wish to explore this topic to search the internet for “concealed shoes” or other hidden objects. She also recommends contacting state or historical museums to learn about their collections and volunteer opportunities.
Her wish for the future is that the researchers from the fields of anthropology, archeology, and other areas work more closely together to solve the mysteries behind hidden objects.
The Mystery of the Shoe in the Roof: Panel Discussion, William Trent House Visitor Center, 15 Market Street, Trenton. Sunday, April 7, 2 to 4 p.m. $15, $12 for Trent House Association members.
Other 300th anniversary celebration events:
If These Stones Could Talk reading and book signing with Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, Saturday, March 30.
Open House, Saturday, June 1.
Community Archaeology Project, Saturdays, June 8, 15, 22, and 29, and July 6; and Fridays, June 14, 21, and 28.
Trenton History: The Immigrant Experience sculpture exhibit, June 22 through November 3.
Ice Cream Social with Colonial re-enactors Sunday, July 21
Life and Times of William Trent Jr. lecture and book signing by Jason Cherry. Monday, July 22.
Trenton History: People, Places, & Events on view through Saturday, March 30. Exhibit showing changes to the Trent House over the years on view through May. www.williamtrenthouse.org/events
The Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County is accepting applications for its Rose and Louis H. Linowitz Mensch Award. This is a merit-based award for Jewish eighth grade and high school senior students living in the Greater Mercer County area. Candidates should exemplify what it means to be a mensch: a person of integrity and honor, a doer of good deeds, and an all-around good person.
Students must be nominated by a member of the community such as a Rabbi, educator, youth group advisor, secular school guidance counselor, teacher, parent, etc. Eighth-grade Mensch-In-Training award is $300 and high school senior Mensch Award winners will receive $1,500. This is not a need-based scholarship. Applications are due by April 30, 2019.
For more information or to nominate a student, visit www.jfcsonline.org, or contact Joyce at 609-987-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Art
The Trent House Association invites local and regional sculptors over the age of 18 to submit for consideration works that evoke the immigrant experience during the 300-plus year history of the William Trent House and surrounding area. The exhibition will be on view June 22 through November 3. For more information and guidelines, go to www.williamtrenthouse.org/call-for-sculpture-summer-2019.
The Arts and Cultural Council of Bucks County and the Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theatre Education Center recently announced the Art of Oscar, a celebration and competition which will serve as a fundraiser for the participating non-profit organizations, community artists and participating event artists. Visual artists of all mediums can create works inspired by Hammerstein’s life, music, humanitarian service, and his home and submit them for awards, exhibition, and public sale at Highland Farm this May. Artists must register on or before April 1 at www.bucksarts.org.
Peer Leadership Application
Gesher LeKesher, a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, is currently accepting 11th and 12th grade teens (as of the 2019-2020 school year) to participate in Gesher LeKesher, a Jewish peer leadership program. Teens will lead a group of seventh, eighth, and ninth grade learners in outreaches addressing trending topics from a Jewish perspective including friendships, the impact of social media, peer pressure, healthy dating relationships and addressing anti-Semitism on campus.
Gesher LeKesher meets six hours each month. For more information, visit www.jfcsonline.org/gesher-lekesher/ or contact Celeste Albert at 609-987-8100 ext. 210 or email@example.com.
Hooked on Fishing
The Mercer County Park Commission holds its Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs program for ages 8 to 14 on Saturdays from April 13 to June 29. Participants meet at Tulpehaking Nature Center, 157 Westcott Avenue, Hamilton, from 9 to 11 a.m. for activities including catching and identifying macro-invertebrates, fish art, kayak adventures, and fishing in a lake or reservoir. Register by Saturday, March 23, by calling 609-888-3218. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mercercountyparks.org.
The news that Princeton’s McCarter Theater is launching the newest farce by Ken Ludwig can be expected to bring a smile to our faces.
As the author of the now classic award-winning Broadway hit “Lend Me a Tenor,” Ludwig has found a receptive audience at McCarter, which has now been home to four premieres of his comedies, all of which have been in varying degrees enjoyable. His dominance as America’s most lauded contemporary playwright of farces has not been challenged.
The only challenge I can see at the present is how to get “The Gods of Comedy” into some kind of cohesive comical structure before it takes off for a run at San Diego’s Old Globe, McCarter’s associate producing partner for this venture.
At present, I can’t imagine how any of the ancient Greek gods of comedy will look down kindly upon what is being perpetrated in their name and in the service of farce upon the McCarter stage under the direction of Amanda Dehnert.
Given that allowances must be made for the rewrites that presumably will continue to shape the play and for the capable performers who must deal with them as professionals must, the result at this point is a play that is far from ready for the stage.
I suspect that there may be something really funny hidden deep beneath the rash of frenetic antics and the kind of acting that gives a bad name to what is traditionally referred to as scenery chewing. But these flaws only compound the play’s problems. It’s obvious from the first scene Dehnert does not fully trust the material so, in the oldest of theatrical traditions, she has the actors do everything bigger, faster, and louder.
Like all good farces, the play begins with a reasonable premise: Daphne (Shay Vawn) an instructor in the history department of an American university, is directing a production of “Medea” by Euripides as a part of her tenure program. While in Greece, she meets Ralph (Jevon McFerrin) a new professor, a classicist who believes he has unearthed an unknown play by Euripides about Andromeda and Perseus that will change history because it only has two characters.
Back at the university things go awry when Daphne not only loses her two lead actors but loses the text of the new play that Ralph has left in her care. In despair, she calls out to the Greek gods for help. Suddenly Dionysus (Brad Oscar) and Thalia (Jessie Cannizzaro) appear in ancient Grecian attire — and really know how to camp it up. They are also ready and eager to help her as well as find the missing play.
It wouldn’t be a farce unless things get more complicated, and they do with the arrival of the fully armored and intensely amorous Ares. Arriving with the assist of a “Star Wars” fanfare, Ares is played by George Psomas, who also plays Aristide, the Greek peddler, as well as Aleksi, a daffy Russian janitor.
Steffanie Leigh plays an ambitious blond actress and alumna who wants the lead in the new play. She also plays Aristide’s wife, Zoe. And award for chief defender of Thespis — the ancient Greek founder of the acting tradition — goes to Keira Naughton as the ever intrusive Dean Trickett.
More than a little daffy by design, they all become key players in an ensuing muddle of misadventures. No need to go any further into the plot’s many convolutions in which the gods become visible and then invisible while also impersonating others at will. There is an end to the nonsense designed to make everyone happy.
Is this play salvageable? Yes, with help of a tough and committed dramaturg. But can Dehnert, who so ably directed Ludwig’s “Baskerville” and also Kate Hamill’s off-Broadway “Pride and Prejudice” — one of my favorite productions — pull back on the reins and let the best of this farce come forth?
What remains best are Jason Sherwood’s handsome scenic designs that transport us from a bazaar on the island of Naxos in Greece to the faculty office of an American liberal arts college and finally to the campus grounds. The practical and whimsical costumes by Linda Roethke are excellently designed. Lighting designer Brian Gale has cast the best light possible on a play in desperate need.
The Gods of Comedy, McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Through March 31. $25 to $85. 609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org