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These articles were prepared for the December 6, 2000 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
For years now we have been marveling at the lessons
that can be learned by people from all walks of life from the rainbow
of artists and art works profiled in our Preview section. When flutist
James Galway talks about his practice regimen, you feel you could
take the process, apply it to your next sales presentation, and walk
out a world-class performer. When designer Ming Cho Lee weighs the
pros and cons of accepting one of Broadway’s big risky design jobs,
it’s a dilemma familiar to consultants in every field. And cartoonist
Patrick McDonnell of "Mutts" fame debates the virtues of
at a blank sheet of paper yet waking up at 2 a.m. with an inspired
idea. Business people, technicians, researchers — we all can
from rubbing shoulders with the arts.
In this issue we are reminded that this shoulder-rubbing is a two-way
street. Now we’re seeing an array of scientists — creative,
thinkers all — inspiring today’s artists.
On page 48 of this issue Simon Saltzman talks with artists Joshua
Rosenblum and Joanne Sydney Lessner who are premiering their
musical based on the remarkable story of Princeton University
Andrew J. Wiles. The man who identified an intriguing problem at age
10 eventually devoted more than seven years of his life to unraveling
the mystery of one of the great challenges in
the history of mathematics — the proof of Fermat’s theorem.
Rosenblum is no stranger to Princeton, having led the Greater
Princeton Youth Orchestra (another harbor for young people, many
gifted in both music and the sciences) for two seasons. The night
Saltzman saw the show, Peter Sarnak of the Princeton math department
and a close colleague of Wiles was also there and sat in on a
"Fermat’s Last Tango," as the show is called, is by no means
the only math drama finding resonance with audiences this season.
"Copenhagen" by Michael Frayn imagines a meeting after death
between physicists Niels Bohr and his former protege Werner
Heisenberg, as they re-live a 1941 meeting that took place in Denmark
when Heisenberg was chief of the Nazi A-bomb project. And
"Proof" (reviewed in this issue on page 30) also finds
parallels between scientific and artistic insight and inspiration.
Now, aiming for a much larger audience than any vestpocket
Off-Broadway theater, Russell Crowe has been hired to portray
Princeton University mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., winner of the
1994 Nobel Prize in economics for work he did for his doctoral thesis
at age 22. Director (and former whiz kid) Ron Howard, who has titled
his film, "A Beautiful Mind," plans to tell the story of the
brilliant Nash, now 72, whose life has been colored by ongoing battles
Howard has already visited the Princeton campus to look at potential
filming sites. We expect a flurry of excitement
comparable to that raised by the Einstein fantasy picture for Walter
Matthau and Meg Ryan, "I.Q." Howard’s film is scheduled for a
December 2001 premiere.
As Saltzman discovered with the thorny Fermat, these popular
representations can prove instructive. Perhaps Howard can help us
grasp the Nash Equilibrium. Here, again, we’re counting on the power
of the arts.
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