Einstein Makes an Appearance at Oglethorpe

photo by Travis TaylorIn celebration of the 100th anniversary of our campus, Oglethorpe University has put one of its rare treasures on display: Albert Einstein’s handwritten manuscript, “The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity,” on view through April 30, 2015 in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA).

The manuscript, penned in 1920, was written by Einstein by request from his colleague Robert Lawson, an English physicist. Lawson was in the process of translating Einstein’s 1917 work, “Relativity: the Special and General Theory” and asked Einstein to give him observational proof of general relativity for the 1920 English edition. The exact documents Einstein gave to Lawson are now being exhibited for a special few months, exclusively here on campus.

Thornwell Jacobs

Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University, 1915-1943

Oglethorpe came into possession of the documents in a unique way that spans back to its founding in 1835. Oglethorpe originally had its roots in Midway, a town near Milledgeville, Ga. Because of the Civil War, the school closed for a while. However, Thornwell Jacobs, a generous and well-educated Presbyterian minister, was determined to restore the school. He had grown up hearing stories about Oglethorpe from his grandfather, Ferdinand Jacobs, who had been a faculty member there, and it became his dream to someday reopen the school. A skilled fundraiser, Thornwell Jacobs raised enough money and interest to organize a Board of Trustees for the college by 1912. With land donated by the Silver Lake Park Company and the help of Atlanta architectural firm of Morgan Dillon and Downing, Oglethorpe University at last reopened in 1915 and welcomed 45 students in 1916. Serving as president of the university through 1943, Jacobs accomplished many things, including launching the Crypt of Civilization and establishing a medical school. Jacobs was a true Renaissance man with a talent for writing that led him to found and publish The Westminster Magazine. He will always be remembered for his detailed letters and amazing ability to positively influence others.

As for the Einstein manuscript, it was given to Oglethorpe University by alumna Nellie Jane Gaertner ’34 in 1982. She was the daughter of Herman Julius Gaertner, one of the first faculty members appointed when Jacobs re-opened Oglethorpe at its current Atlanta location in 1915. The manuscript had been retained by Lawson for some years before it was acquired by Herman Julius Gaertner, a professor of German and Mathematics. Oglethorpe is lucky to posses the manuscript as most of Einstein’s work now resides at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jordan Michaels_Holly Bostick_John Tilford

Students Jordan K. Michels and Holly Bostick examine the manuscript with OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford.

OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford helped to illustrate the historical context of the manuscript’s creation, as well as the history of Einstein’s expansive archive. He relied on a number of rarely-seen images of Einstein and his colleagues, including personal secretary Helen Dukas and Professor Otto Nathan, both co-trustees of Einstein’s literary estate. According to John, Helen Dukas preserved Einstein’s papers for decades before they were given to Hebrew University after her death, and for this, scholars and historians owe her an enormous debt.

“Staff and faculty of Division III (Natural Sciences), OUMA, and the Philip Weltner Library, with the enthusiastic input and support of OU students, came together seamlessly to present the manuscript and a rich program of lectures, films, and other events,” says Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA. “We are grateful for a Georgia Humanities Council grant which supports these activities and thrilled to again be part of the Atlanta Science Festival.”

The Einstein exhibition has generated robust student involvement with interest from scholars of all disciplines and departments. Students from a variety of majors including physics, theatre, English, and philosophy came together to participate in a group reading of Einstein’s Dreams. Additionally, Oglethorpe University senior and physics major Antonio Mántica leads “A Tour through Time”, during the week of the Atlanta Science Festival. His presentation will explain the historical and current understandings of how time functions and how we can use that knowledge to inform our experience of it. Other events include three film screenings and discussions about Einstein-related movies, and an evening of astronomy with Fernbank Science Center astronomer April Whitt.

“The manuscript should be viewed in person to truly appreciate its uniqueness as each word, diagram and calculation, including a few corrections, were all penned by Einstein’s own hand,” says Tilford. “Anyone can read the transcribed text in print and digital formats but the power of the handwritten documents must be witnessed first hand.”

Ariana Feiner is a writer and a student at Oglethorpe University. She enjoys art history and recently published her first children’s book, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage.
This online story was adapted from an assignment for her journalism class.

Oglethorpe Day 2014 Welcomes Arthur Blank & Freddie the Atlanta Falcon

Oglethorpe Day, one of the university’s most cherished annual traditions, honors our namesake, James Edward Oglethorpe. Usually held in February, Oglethorpe Day commemorates the anniversary of General Oglethorpe’s arrival in the new world in Savannah, Ga. In 2014, the scheduled Oglethorpe Day was snowed out, so the festivities were rescheduled for a bright and sunny day, April 2. (Not so bad, as it turned out!)

Each year, the celebration kicks off with the Petrels of Fire race—Oglethorpe students race around the quad in hopes of making a full lap before the carillon bells’ twelfth and final chime. Feel the thrill of this year’s race:

Then the crowds process down to the Conant Performing Arts Center to hear from a special guest speaker. This year, we welcomed Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons. President Larry Schall’s conversation with Mr. Blank touched on business, family, philanthropy—and football, of course.

So, although Oglethorpe Day was a few months late, it was certainly no less exciting—just take a look at the photos below, including Petey’s special guest, Freddie, the Atlanta Falcons’ mascot:

Omicron Delta Kappa Recognizes Scholarship & Leadership

ODK Large LogoOmicron Delta Kappa is a national leadership honor society that recognizes, what I would like to call the “crème de la crème” of Oglethorpe students, faculty, staff, and honoris causa members. ODK was founded on December 3, 1914 at Washington and Lee University in Lexington,Va. and has been expanding ever since.

Membership in the society is an honor awarded to students of junior and senior status who place in the top 35% of their class. In addition to exceptional scholarship, potential members must be a leader in at least one of the five main phases of college life: athletics, campus or community service, scholarship, social and religious activities and campus government; journalism, speech, and the mass media, and creative and performing arts.

Brittney Blalock '14, ODK President

Brittney Blalock ’14, ODK President

Last December, multiple new members were initiated during the annual Boar’s Head Ceremony, including: Tirzah Brown ’14, Kirsten Glaeser ’14, Kendall Burke ’13, Krista Gray ’14, Jeet Budha Magar ’13, Marisa Manuel ’13, Justin Munson ’14, Corey Ray ’14, Caitlyn Mitchell ’13, Lindsey Mitchell ’13, Kate Siess ’14, alumnus Eli Arnold ’06, board members Arnie Sidman and Jim Hagalow, faculty member Dr. Mario Chandler, and staff member Katie Paden.

Each year, O∆K sponsors five main events: Geek Week, a plant fundraiser, the Boar’s Head Ceremony, a leadership workshop, and the Last Lecture. For those of you who are Oglethorpe veterans, you are very familiar with these O∆K traditions. For those of you who aren’t, just give it some time. You will see the flyers soon enough.

Ali Hadd_s

Alexandria Ree Hadd ’13, pictured with President Schall at the 2013 Commencement, was among only 20 students nationwide who were awarded a 2013 O∆K Foundation Scholarship. From Fort Myers, Fla., Ali double majored in Psychology and Mathematics. She was active on campus, serving as an R.A. and active in O∆K, APO and Psi Chi. Ali is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology at Vanderbilt University.

As O∆K’s newly elected president, I am looking forward to the Boar’s Head Ceremony the most. Between my love for the Christmas season and O∆K itself, the ceremony has proven to be one of my favorite experiences at OU. Last but not least, be sure to mark your calendars! The annual plant fundraiser will be held in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center on Tuesday, September 3 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Please be sure to stop by and support O∆K.

If you are a junior or senior and believe that you have what it takes to be a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, applications are now available. I encourage everyone to apply! If you are interested in O∆K and would like more information, you may contact me, Kendra Hunter, or Dr. John Nardo. O∆K is not only an honor but a wonderful opportunity that will allow you to advance your leadership abilities in ways that you would never imagine.

Applications are due by September 13, 2013.

One Senior’s Oglethorpe Bucket List: 20 Must-Do Activities for Every Stormy Petrel

Janet Wood '13

With a less than two weeks left until graduation, reality has started to set in. Soon, Oglethorpe will not only be my university: it will be my alma mater.

As a senior, everything from conversations with nostalgic friends to commencement updates constantly remind me that this formal departure from my second home is imminent. That being said, I find myself reflecting on not only my Oglethorpe experience, but the parts of OU that I have not yet experienced.

During a discussion in my senior psychology class the idea came up to create an Oglethorpe bucket list—a list of things that every Petrel must do before the long-awaited graduation day. I’ve asked OU students and alumni to submit items to the bucket list, and compiled them below. So Petrels, next time you’re looking for a good Ogle-adventure, why not scratch a few things off “OUr” bucket list?

  1. Walk around campus at night and discover how breathtaking Oglethorpe looks after dark
  2. Pull an all-nighter in the 24 Hour Room
  3. Have a picnic, play Frisbee, or just enjoy the weather on the quad with some friends
  4. Enjoy telescope night on the roof of the library
  5. Sunbathe with some friends at  the baseball stadium when no one else is there
  6.  Run through the sprinklers on the quad
  7. Go to lunch at that one restaurant you’ve been meaning to try ever since you got to Oglethorpe
  8. Watch a meteor shower from the Traer courtyard or soccer field
  9. Take MARTA downtown and explore the city—no plan, no destination, just a free afternoon and sense of adventure
  10. Visit all the Atlanta hotspots (i.e. World of Coke, CNN, Piedmont Park, Georgia Aquarium, Rocky Horror Picture Show, High Museum, etc.)
  11. Try to take a picture of the Ogle-turkey, Ogle-kitty, Fratcoon, or whatever animal is roaming the campus at the time
  12. Show your support: go to an Oglethorpe play, cheer on the Petrels at a sporting event, go to Greek Sing, visit the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
  13. Be an active member or participant of something
  14. Drive to Buford Highway and try a new food that you’ve never heard of and cannot pronounce
  15. Have a mini photo shoot in Little 5 Points
  16. Be adventurous. Go white water rafting on the Chattahoochee River, skydive, rock climb at Atlanta Rocks, etc.
  17. Be in a campus publication
  18. Climb a tree on campus
  19. Take a road trip with a friend and spend the night in a new city
  20. Count how many Oglethorpe T-shirts you have…I promise it will be more than you thought

And don’t forget, there’s always Alumni Weekend to finish checking off the list! So, what would YOU add to the list?

Thank you to the contributors of this list: Katie Goddard, Tori Lloyd, Justin Sabree, Betsy Rosillo, Rieddhi Shah, Christian Hartnett, Joshua Steltzer, Morgan Coffey, Marisa Manuel, Dr. Zinner’s History and Systems class.