Harvard Hockey

Another 'American Experience' accrued on my belt.  This time the Harvard-Colgate Hockey game at Harvard Stadium.  You might remember that I went to the Harvard-Yale Football game back in November.  It was a forgettable experience - cold, slow and not particularly interesting.  So my expectations of hockey weren't too great.  I had been warned that I wouldn't be able to see the puck, I expected unnecessary violence and I anticipated leaving at half time.
BUT, I was wrong.  I actually really enjoyed the game.  The rules, once I figured them out, were not that dissimilar to field hockey, only modified for ice.  They do throw each other against the walls of the rink, although when you watch the game you begin to understand why.  They skate so fast toward the flying puck that there is often no time to stop.  Although I will admit that the players do take advantage of this situation to add a bit of 'spice' to the game.  

Final result: Harvard wins by a goal (3-2), in the final two minutes of the game.  And I have finally found an American sport that I like.


Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

It's been a Nobel Prize Winner Week.  Lastnight I attended a talk and book signing of Dr Muhammad Yunis.  Dr Yunis was born in Bangladesh.  He studied economics at University and went onto develop the Grameen Bank, a hugely successful microcredit bank that pioneered the micro-financing and micro-credit industry that is a hallmark of economic development and foreign aid in the developing world today.

To hear Dr Yunus speak was a real honour.  Whilst he appears to be a quiet and gentle man, it is obvious that he is a goliath when it comes to business and economics.  Today he has expanded his interests to partnering with large multinationals to develop sustainable and affordable products for the developing world.  His first partnership was with Danone, the European dairy company.  Not content with a tasty, affordable, yogurt that contained additional micronutrients to correct for the deficiencies that are endemic in South Asia, Dr Yunus insisted that the yogurt container be both bio-degradable and edible.  Suprisingly Danone responded to the challenge and a nutionally enhanced, tasteful yogurt in an edible corn-based container is currently being made commercially available in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Dr Yunus's second partnership was with Volkswagon.  Here he requested that the company develop a 'relatively' environmentally friendly car.  Although this time his caveat to partnering with him was that the car's engine be readily removable so that it could be used as a generator or water-pump when not being used for locomotion.  This project is still in development, but again Volkswagon agreed to his specifications.

Not only does Dr Yunus believe in equal access and opportunity for the poorest of today's poor, his actions force individuals and companies to reflect on their behaviour and strive for the apparent "impossible".  His talk reminded me of Kev Carmody's song "From Little Things, Big Things Grow".  It's easy to forget this in the daily rush of life.  Who better to remind you than a Nobel Peace Prize Winner?


Eric Kandel - Nobel Prize Winner

Classes have started and my brain is already back into "experiencing Harvard and Boston mode".  Tonight I attended the viewing of "In Search of Memory" an autobiographical documentary of the life and work of Eric Kandel.  

Eric Kandel is a prominent New York psychiatrist and neurobiologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work on the neurobiology of short and long term memory.  Born in Vienna, Kandel escaped Nazi Austria at the age of 10 to flourish academically, first in Brooklyn, then at Harvard and Columbia Universities.  

The documentary was a fascinating look into his life and work, with some absolutely incredible imagery of the neurone firing and creating new synapses with adjacent cells.  Whilst I am not a bench scientist, Kandel's passion for his research and his pursuit of new information and discoveries, even as he moves into his 70s was truly inspiring.  His book, In Search of Memory, is a more indepth narrative of the documentary I saw.