As someone who’s been writing for the Targum—the Rutgers student newspaper, for those of you who don’t know—since I started as a freshman, I’ve seen a lot of fascinating things happen here. I was on the scene when the President of the United States dropped by. I witnessed the planting of those amazing Imagination Trees during our 250th Anniversary celebration. (I’ve never seen trees grow so fast—and I have sat under them many times, as I just seem to think so much more clearly when I do!) But I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced anything quite like the recent visit by world-renown mathematician Dr. Trig Newton. He was here two days ago to dedicate the new Center for Applied Mathematics Building—which was named in his honor—and give a lecture on one of his latest theories.
Now, I want to be clear—I’m not a particularly strong math student. I get by, but I don’t fly, y’know? The title of his lecture was ‘Math and the Universe and Everything Else.’ Fairly big topic, right? Well, it was. So big, in fact, that I was lost after about ten seconds. Dr. Newton’s assistant, Pascal Rhombus, was kind enough to explain how the general idea of the theory was that numbers were the glue that held the universe together; that they were the “common denominator” (his words, not mine) of absolutely everything. With this in mind, I figured I’d be able to grasp the finer details of Dr. Newton’s lecture without any problem. Ha! No such luck—once he started scribbling equations on the blackboard up on that stage, using that weird purple chalk of his, I felt like I’d been kicked out of a car and was watching it speed off down the highway.
But that turned out to be just fine, because I discovered an even more interesting story unfolding in the lecture hall that afternoon—the story of six kids who looked way too young to be there in the first place. I noticed the first two—named Simon and Maya, I learned—as soon as I walked in, because they were there at the entrance to the lecture hall taking everyone’s tickets. Once inside, I noticed another one—Cooper—recording the lecture on his phone. A fourth, Chelsea, also had a phone and was taking lots of pictures. I spotted a fifth, Jamal, sitting at the control board with the sound and lighting crew. And the sixth, Gabby, was right up there on the stage helping Dr. Newton with whatever he needed.