Re: Who are we?
Dr. Amy Gutmann became the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania on July 1, 2004. In her inaugural address, Gutmann launched the Penn Compact, her vision for making Penn a global leader in teaching, research, and professional practice, as well as a dynamic agent of social, economic, and civic progress. The Compact focuses on increasing access for the most talented students regardless of socioeconomic background, recruiting and retaining eminent faculty who integrate knowledge across multiple disciplines, and making Penn a more powerful transformational force locally, nationally, and around the globe. In October 2007, Gutmann officially launched “Making History: The Campaign for Penn,” a five-year, $3.5 billion fundraising effort to support the University’s priorities of expanding undergraduate, graduate, and financial aid, strengthening faculty endowment, and creating the optimal environment for teaching, research, and student living. “Making History” is by far the largest fundraising effort in Penn’s history.
Gutmann serves on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation and the Vanguard Corporation, and on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center. In 2005, she was appointed to the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a committee that advises the FBI on national security issues relating to academia. Gutmann is a member of the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), which convenes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and is a member of the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. policy toward India. She also is among the leaders of a select group of presidents of research universities throughout the world who advise the U.N. Secretary General on a range of global issues, including academic freedom, mass migration, international development, and the social responsibilities of universities.
Amy Gutmann: So the forces that have shaped where we are today as humans go way beyond us and our intelligence. Anyone who sees the forces today at work in the world – whether they be global warming, or the tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina – has to recognize that we are but specks in the universe. That said, anyone who looks at global warming or tsunami or Hurricane Katrina has to realize that those weren’t purely natural disasters. Take Hurricane Katrina. We could have prevented that. We human beings, as small as we are in the universe . . . in our universe . . . in our part of the universe, we could’ve made a difference. Take global warming. I hope we will make a difference. That’s why as President of the University of Pennsylvania, I’ve committed ourselves to having a plan in a couple of years’ time to become carbon neutral, and that we’re . . . 30% of our energy is wind power. So the forces are enormous in the universe. And scientists as well as humanists are hard at work understanding them. And we should never kid ourselves that we’re more than specks in the universe. But we should never let down ourselves in not doing what we can do to make a difference.
We should never kid ourselves that we're more than specks in the universe.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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