Many thanks to those who commented on Monday’s post, especially John Polking. He pointed out that the bonus picture showed something called Penrose tiles, named for a mathematician who was at Rice briefly in the ’80s. Here they are:
Well, this was the first I’d heard of anything like this. It was interesting enough that I thought there might be something in the files about this guy. It turns out that there’s quite a bit–more than I could sort through today. Having Penrose come to Rice seems to have been quite a big deal. I found several newspaper articles with amusing headlines: “UK Math Whiz Arrives at Rice” and the like. Here he is in his office on campus:
What I can’t quite figure out is how he got here. There’s a good bit of correspondence dealing with specific arrangements for his appointment, much of it with Bill Gordon, who was provost at the time, but I haven’t yet seen anything that explains why he wanted to come. There has to be a reason. If anyone can fill me in, I’d appreciate it. The other thing I wonder about is whose idea it was to use this pattern in Brockman Hall.
There are a couple of good links to Penrose bios in Monday’s comments, but I also found this Thresher article about about him that appeared shortly after he arrived in 1983. (Yes, I know it’s crooked. I was in a hurry.)
Just for kicks, here’s the front page of the same issue. Lots going on! Bad fonts too.
Bonus: Also for kicks, here’s John Polking himself, trying to get a student squared away. The photo is undated but I’d guess it’s the ’80s. I don’t know what’s going on on that chalkboard but it looks ghastly.
Extra Bonus: In the spring, we get crowds of prospective students and their parents. In the summer it changes and there are crowds of school children. Here’s a bunch I ran across yesterday. They are fifth graders who were getting a tour from Susan Troutman of the Rice School Mathematics Project, one of our many great K-12 programs. I really love seeing these bright-eyed kids on campus.