Monday, February 09, 2009

DEAR NEW YORK TIMES

You disappoint me

Dear Sir,
I was rather shocked to notice that in your "Notable Deaths of 2008" slide show that included 44 famous people from the arts, medicine, literature, television, politics, cinema, music and journalism, the name of the legendary physicist John Archibald Wheeler was missing. Dr. Wheeler who worked on the Manhattan Project died on April 13, 2008 and was one of the century's greatest scientists and a national treasure. During his long and remarkably productive life in which he worked with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, Dr. Wheeler played a key role in shaping American science, education and government policy. While it was heartening to see an obituary of him in the New York Times, I was quite disconcerted to see no mention of him in the Notable Deaths of 2008 Multimedia slide show list. While I understand that such an enumeration cannot be all-inclusive, Dr. Wheeler's stature as an American scientific icon should ensure the inclusion of his name in any short list of famous American people who died in 2008. I sincerely and strongly hope that this omission would be corrected.
Thank You
A fan of John Wheeler

Wheeler worked on the atomic and hydrogen bombs, served as an advisor to high-profile Presidential scientific committees, mentored brilliant scientists and leaders like Richard Feynman and Kip Thorne, resurrected and pioneered rather neglected relativity research in the 60s, coined the word "black hole", rendered invaluable teaching service at Princeton and Austin and propelled American physics into the first rank. If a list of notable American deaths of 2008 does not include his name, I don't know whose name it should.

When it comes to public exposition of achievement, it seems that popular media sources always give science short shrift in preference to other areas like art and cinema. The rift between the two cultures keeps growing. Science was undoubtedly one of the core foundations of The American Twentieth Century. Now it threatens to slip away from beneath the twenty-first. The country neglects it to its own perilous detriment. John Wheeler would have been unhappy.

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3 Comments:

Blogger you prat ! said...

I'm am shocked too! How did NYT respond to the letter?

11:49 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

They didn't respond yet...

10:25 AM  
Blogger Nikhil K said...

Maybe, to compensate, they come up with this. :)
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html?em

8:36 PM  

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