…use of “major”
was coined by William Rainey Harper…
How he thought we did it
I took scissors and completely separated the orange rings from the
two printed discs (“More
Than Meets the Eye,” June/04). Removed from the patterned
backgrounds, the two rings remained different in color—they
were not printed in the same shade of orange ink, and “chromatic
induction” had nothing to do with their perceived difference—contrary
to what was stated in the article.
I enjoyed reading Megan Lisagor’s feature
about visual neuroscience on campus. But I was puzzled by a certain
omission: although two of the interviewees—Bradley and Issa—
alluded to the mathematical aspects of vision modeling, Lisagor’s
article overlooked one of Chicago’s most illustrious theoretical
neuroscientists—Jack Cowan in the Department of Mathematics.
I am surprised his name didn’t surface while researching the
Peter Thomas, SM’94, AM’00, PhD’00
The Magazine reported on Cowan’s work in the
April/03 issue (magazine.uchicago.edu/0304/research/invest-jelly.html).—Ed.
Lack of concentration
It was with mixed feelings that I read of the change from “concentrator”
to the more traditional “major” (“College
Report,” June/04). Since I was educated in the Hutchins
College, I did not use either term until I obtained my PhB and entered
the divisions to complete pre-med requirements. Because we were
all enrolled in the same curriculum, we considered ourselves simply
“in the College,” a nontraditional, avant-garde concept
with its attendant feeling of superiority. Several years later,
when Harvard announced its new Core Curriculum, our reaction was
somewhere between “no big deal” and “ho hum.”
“Major” is pure Chicago too
The controversy over the College’s replacement of the term
“concentration” with the term “major” has
an ironic background, since use of the word “major”
as an academic term was coined by William Rainey Harper in his meticulous
and detailed plans made even before the opening of the University
of Chicago. However, its meaning was entirely different from the
I never had the pleasure of taking a course with the late Professor
Weintraub, but I suspect he would be surprised to find misspellings
in “A Historian’s
Task in Time,” the article honoring him in the June/04
University of Chicago Magazine, specifically in the references
to the two German titled books on page 49, first paragraph.
I am very pleased to be able to request a photocopy of Professor
Weintraub’s Ryerson lecture. I am simply unable to read the
article as printed, partly as a result of my poor eyesight, partly
due to the printing. There is little I can do about my eyes, beyond
what has already been done, but two major revisions in the future
I assume this is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of letters
you will receive on the death of a great teacher, Karl Weintraub.
I had the good fortune to take the History of Western Civ sequence
from him in 1964–65. I don’t know if students slept
in the halls to register for Weintraub’s sections then—after
all, Christian Mackauer still taught, and I would guess if any sleeping
in the halls to register for a particular section was going on,
it would have been for him.
Chapel of grub
Rockefeller Chapel was at one time the shared soul of greatness
and of troubled conscience. It has been made a dining room (and
dance hall?) for money-grubbers bred in the solicitous bowels of
our great University (“Chicago
Journal,” June/04). I and, I suppose, countless others
are offended beyond easy restitution. What can be done?
On the wrong track
Regarding Jessica Abel’s “Chicagophile”
cartoon in the June /04 issue, what one infers from the Grand Central
Station tour guide is that the Twentieth Century Limited arrived
on tracks 39 or 40. This would be wrong. In its heyday, the Twentieth
Century Limited used tracks 26 and 27. These two tracks were the
most famous portals in the terminal. Sometime in the 1940s the TCL
was switched to track 34.
His piece of the action
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Where
the Action Was” (April/04). I was one of the 35 or so
students of Sol Tax who spent some time with the Meskwaki, in the
summer of 1954 (I think) and who was employed in the project part
time during the ensuing academic year. Reading the article was like
a flashback to a period of my life I have not thought much about
for years, and it also helped me learn about the subsequent careers
of several students I knew.
I found it ironic that Mark Holmes in his letter
(June/04) criticizing President Randel’s assertion that truth
can only be reached through reason (“From
the President,” April/04) provides evidence for that assertion.
On the one hand Holmes demands that scientists who warn of global
warming, whom he disparages as a “vocal majority,” must
provide irrefutable experimental proof of their hypothesis even
though the nature of the problem makes it impossible to conduct
a controlled experiment.
I don’t think the U of C should be particularly proud of having
spawned Seymour Hersh, AB’58, (July/04 UCHICAGO.EDU),
a reckless, bigoted guy who has blown many stories. Perhaps the
worst was the story of the Korean airliner with 69 people that Hersh
claimed was a U.S. spy plane when the Russians shot it down.
Now that we
have a Paris Center...
I’m not a French language scholar, but my college-level French
ear tells me that “Aujourd’hui dans Paris” (May/04
may not be correct. I believe that “Today in Paris”
would normally be expressed “Aujourd’hui à Paris.”
The word dans is normally used, I believe, to express a
spatial relation among objects, as opposed to a person being at
a particular place, or in a particular city.
Thank you for your e-newsletter.
I spent more difficult years at Chicago than I care to mention.
I am a tenured professor now at a highly selective school where
I despair as I watch the quality of education decline every year.
Reading this magazine online every month always gives me hope for
the future that lifts my spirits anew.
Phillip Richards, AM’74, PhD’87
Hamilton, New York
Thank you for continuing to send issues of UCHICAGO.EDU.
You hit on a great idea. It’s a first-rate, quickly informative
summary about matters at the U of C. I hope you will continue and
that the response has been salutary.
Louis T. Olom, AB’37
Falls Church, Virginia
The University of Chicago Magazine
welcomes letters. Letters for publication must be signed and may
be edited for space and clarity.
Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine,
5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail: uchicago-magazine@