Yesterday I received an email that quite caught me off guard. It was from the USC President Max Nikias to all faculty and staff informing us that Sidney Harman had died. Perhaps oddly, my first thought was that I must have misread it, that perhaps Max was referring to someone else and I’d mis-wired the pathways in my brain to as to who it really was, or something… since Sidney surely was going to live forever, right? Or at least until 150 or so… He died at 92, and I was actually writing a post about the time I spent with him a while back brainstorming some ideas, on the delight of spending a little time with him and his wife Jane Harman, and his infectious wit and humour.
The post was about the outcome of the brainstorming, the new Academy for Polymathic Study here at USC. I gave a talk there a short while ago and was impressed with how it is coming along. My thought was that the spirit of Sidney, the driving force behind it, is there for sure, and I was looking forward to seeing him again so that I could tell him that, thank him, and congratulate him.
Missed my chance. He’s gone off to see to other matters, I expect.
Have a look at the memorial piece by Jonathan Alter about Sidney.
Here’s a video introducing the Academy, which includes Sidney taking part in explaining what it’s about (I borrowed the stills above from it):
I’ll try to re-build that post about the Polymathy matters, and post it soon. I must prepare for a seminar and some travel, so it must wait a few days. In the meantime, have a look at the website.