|spotlight: MIT neuroscientist, cryptologist reverse Red Sox curse|
Last spring, the Boston Red Sox honored 2 MIT faculty members with the chance to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway. Did it play a part in last night's triumphant win? We don't know for sure, but Rivest and Tonegawa both have their theories.
Susumu Tonegawa, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, and director of the Picower Center for Learning and Memory, admits to being "a pretty avid Red Sox fan. In fact when people ask me whether I am a baseball fan, I tell them 'No, I am not a baseball fan, I am a Red Sox fan!'--the implication being I don't care so much what happens in baseball other than in relation to the Red Sox."
"I thoroughly enjoyed this once in a lifetime occasion," Tonegawa said. "But the greatest thing that happened that evening in May was that the Red Sox came from behind and [won] in the bottom of the ninth inning. Do you know why this was possible? Because I sent my secret waves from the top of the grandstand!"
Read the full article, May 19, 2004 issue of MIT Tech Talk
MIT cryptologist Ron Rivest can lock up a secret -- but can he lock into baseball's strike zone? That was the question last April before the Red Sox took on their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees.
"It was really very exciting to be pitching the first ceremonial pitch for this first Red Sox-Yankees game of the season. I was of course, hoping, that this will be the pitch that 'breaks the curse,'" said Rivest, referring to the legend that a curse has prevented the Red Sox from winning the World Series since 1918.
Rivest's son Alexander, a graduate student in brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, took photos from the stands and posted them on the web. The sequence of pictures is interspersed with tongue-in-cheek mathematical musings about the baseball's motion -- "helping me to figure out what angle to pitch the ball," Rivest said. "But they are quite likely in error, anyway. I wasn't actually thinking about math at all while I was pitching, of course!
Rivest got a souvenir of his moment on the Fenway field of dreams: the baseball he threw, stamped with his name and the date.
Read the full article, April 29, 2004