An Amazing Week! Schwab Fellows, Combating Anti-vax, CMU IFF, Lorentz Transformation

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I suppose this is my version of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.

Sunday, 5/19.

I attended the CMU Graduation Ceremony for the first time 🤷🏽‍♂️. I was recognized, along with three other faculty, as a newly elected University Professor.

Monday 5/20.

I flew to Boston to do my (now annual) guest lecture at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).

Who were the (42) unfortunate and unsuspecting folks (from 18 countries) cruelly subjected to my soliloquy?

They are the Schwab Fellows, an elite group of social entrepreneurs, selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) through an extremely competitive process and they spend a week at HKS.

They came from: Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tunisia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, UK, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada and the US.

Pretty much the first thing they suffer through in this program? Me!

Since the session was not recorded (I hope that is indeed true!), I didn’t hold back. 

It was a very risky move, given that I had not met any of them before, and the setting of Harvard (and WEF) is usually for the very serious people  😏 who are making our world a better place.

With risk, sometimes, you get rewards.

Here is an email from Dr François Bonnici (Head, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship):

Dear Professor Tayur … Sridhar,

On behalf of the Schwab Foundation, the World Economic Forum and importantly, our global community of high impact social change makers who gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School this past week, I wanted to send a heartfelt and sincere thank you for your time, dedication and travel in joining Julie and the class for the case session on OrganJet & Guardian Wings.

You were an inspiration to many in the group, and your provocations, ways of seeing the world, forthrightness and ambitious achievements and ongoing aspirations were just what we needed to get the programme started on the first day, setting the bar high for all that followed. 

We hope (and know from previous years) that this programme is a transformative experience for many of them – thank you for your contribution and investment in this greater community of change around the world. 

On a personal note, I very much look forward to staying connected (from both the academic, health and impact perspectives) and would be delighted to hear from you at any time, should you think I could be of help to you. 

With sincere thanks,

François

Tuesday 5/21.

It was a treat to hear Al Roth speak on his work on Kidney Exchange at the MS 65 Conference.

It was also good to catch up with many colleagues: Linda Argote, Steve Graves, Wally Hopp, Tom Magnanti, Anita Tucker, Pnina Feldman, Soroush Saghafian, and of course, David Simchi-Levi and Al Roth.

Wednesday 5/22.

Kyra Gan (my PhD student) completed her paper on

Personalized Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.

We embarked on this research a few months ago, if you recall, from one of my earlier posts.

Thursday, 5/23.

I heard from  Laura Davis (who with her husband Tjardus Greidanus have recently made the Starzl documentary Burden of Genius) that she had a great conversation with John Oliver’s manager.

About what?

About the re-release of their very successful previous documentary on Jonas Salk, The Shot Felt ‘Round the World.

Here we go:

Hi Sri, Enjoyed talking to you – stimulating conversation, as always.  I relayed your idea for adding a brief section to the film addressing the worsening anti-vax situation and Tjardus sparked to it, so we’ve been tossing around ideas about where and how to best incorporate it.

Hi Sri, Good talk yesterday with John Oliver’s manager about the polio doc.  We’ve made it to the next step, i.e. he will present it to John.  

Friday, 5/24.

I had a wonderful lunch (at Carnegie Museum Café) with the Director of the CMU International Film Festival.

Until a few weeks back, I had no idea that CMU had an International Film Festival! 😳

Here we go:

Dear Sridhar,

Thank you for lunch and a great conversation! I am so grateful to Denise for introducing us to each other. I had no idea a professor from Tepper school is a film buff involved in film productions, festivals and more. 

I would love you to be involved in the CMU IFF as an adviser, jury member and more. It would be great if you could send me links to WBCN and The American Revolution and Journey to Normal plus the other film you mentioned.

I think you and your interesting life would be a fascinating topic for a documentary. I have already come up with the title. 

Thanks again, 

Jolanta

You may wonder: can my week get any better?

Yes, it can!

Saturday, 5/25.

I started to read Leonard Susskind’s third book in his series The Theoretical Minimum:

Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory.

It is a great book. It has a clear explanation of Lorentz transformation. Even more joyful, he has given a complete derivation of Einstein’s results on Special Relativity – starting from the action principle, working through the Lagrangian, invariants, using only high school algebra and exploiting symmetry – and not skipping any steps. So good!

But what made my Saturday was this.

On Page 54, he makes a remark

…my ancient worn and faded copy of the Dover edition containing the 1905 paper…

I was electrified. (Pun intended.)

I ran to my basement because I remembered I also own such a Dover edition, The Principle of Relativity.  Could it be the same one?

I could not resist emailing Lenny (as he is known from his books) about it with a picture. 

I do not know him personally and, indeed, have never met him or communicated with him before.

He responded within eight minutes:

What a coincidence. That book has been on my desk for many years. I think since about 1960.

That was my week. 😊

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