February 22, 2017

To the Editor:

There’s an interesting Princeton back story to the movie Hidden Figures, which has been showing at the Garden Theater and is nominated for three Academy Awards. The back story centers around the movie’s main character, Katherine G. Johnson — one of three extraordinary black women mathematicians depicted in the film. Despite racial prejudice at NASA, respect for Johnson’s mathematical mind grew to the point that John Glenn refused to climb in the rocket until Johnson had verified the math behind the flight’s trajectory.

On a hunch, I traced the mathematical lineage of Katherine Johnson, and found that the string of mentors and advisors leads four generations back to Oswald Veblen, the great mathematician and visionary who played quiet but decisive roles in building Princeton’s math department of the 1930s, and bringing the Institute for Advanced Studies and luminaries like Einstein and Von Neumann to Princeton.

Another connection to the movie shows Veblen’s vision and courage, not only in helping Jewish scientists escape Nazi Germany, but in his early efforts to bring black scholars to Princeton. Johnson’s college professor, William Claytor, was the third African American to receive a PhD in mathematics, but had been forced to take a position that allowed no time for research. Veblen, aware of Claytor’s limited opportunities to exercise his brilliance, sought to bring him to Princeton University, but the University did not accept “coloured persons.” Four years later, Veblen offered Claytor a position at the IAS, which was not subject to the University’s exclusions based on race. But by that time, Claytor had apparently grown disillusioned, and turned down the offer.

Hidden Figures also tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, who in the movie teaches herself Fortran and figures out how to run a new computer that was otherwise baffling staff at NASA. It was women “computers” who figured out how to actually operate and program the early computers men built. A similar story was told locally this past week, when two local computer societies collaborated to host a talk on the ENIAC, a World War II-era creation that “was the testbed on which the human race learned how to build and program computers.” Though not mentioned in the talk, it was the visionary Veblen who gave the go-ahead to fund construction of the ENIAC in Philadelphia.

The reason I happened to research these Princeton connections is that Veblen also championed another poorly treated entity whose contributions have long been downplayed — nature. Veblen essentially founded Princeton’s movement to preserve open space. He worked to acquire 610 acres that became the Institute Woods, and in 1957 the Veblens donated the land for Princeton’s first dedicated nature preserve, Herrontown Woods.

As president of the Friends of Herrontown Woods, I have the good fortune not only to research Veblen’s remarkable legacy, but also to lead efforts to restore Herrontown Woods and the house and cottage the Veblens donated along with the land. Recently, we submitted to Mercer County an official proposal to rehabilitate these long boarded up historic structures. The Veblens, and the public, deserve an honest effort to repurpose these structures for the benefit of all.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

HISTORIC DEBUT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Michael Sowers eludes a foe last Saturday as Princeton hosted NJIT in its season opener. Freshman attackman Sowers tallied two goals and five assists to help trigger the offense as Princeton rolled to a 22-8 win over the Highlanders. Sowers’s assist total broke Ryan Boyle’s school record for assists in the first game of a freshman year (four in his 2001 debut). The Tigers have a busy week coming up as they are slated to host Marist on February 21 and Hofstra on February 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ending up with a swollen right eye and a bandage covering a nasty gash on his temple, Michael Sowers took some lumps as he made his debut for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team last Saturday. more

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Molly Contini (No. 9), center, battles for the puck in game this season. Senior star forward Contini scored two goals as Princeton defeated Union 4-1 on Friday and then assisted on the winning goal as the Tigers defeated Rensselaer 4-2 a day later on the program’s Senior Day to clinch home ice for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs. The victory improved No. 8 Princeton to 18-8-3 overall and 14-6-2 ECACH as it finished fourth in the league standings and will now host fifth-place and 10th-ranked Quinnipiac (20-8-6 overall, 13-6-3 ECACH) in a best-of-three quarterfinal series starting on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University women’s hockey team trailing Rensselaer 2-1 in the third period last Saturday, and its hopes of earning home ice for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs in serious jeopardy, the Tigers’ stellar group of seniors wasn’t about to be denied. more

HAPPY ENDING: Hun School boys’ hockey player Blake Brown controls the puck during the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Friday evening. Senior star forward and co-captain Brown had two assists to help seventh-seeded Hun defeat top-seeded Princeton High 4-3 and win their fourth straight county crown. The Raiders finished the season with a final record of 8-16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a special show of unity heading in the Mercer County Tournament, the players on the Hun School boys’ hockey team shaved grooves into the sides of the hair on their heads. more

IN PLAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Justin Joyce goes after the puck last Friday against Hun in the Mercer County Tournament title game. Junior forward Joyce tallied a goal and an assist as top-seeded PHS fell 4-3 to seventh-seeded Hun, giving the Raiders their fourth straight county crown. On Monday in state tournament action, Joyce scored a goal as the ninth-seeded Little Tigers defeated 24th-seeded Ridgewood 6-3 in the opening round of the state Public A tourney. PHS plays at eighth-seeded Southern in the second round of the Public A tournament on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Battling three-time defending champion Hun in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Friday, the Princeton High boys hockey team suffered a 10-second lapse in the first period. more

BLUE BLOOD: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Zahrion Blue dribbles the ball up the court in recent action. Last Monday, senior star Blue scored 26 points in a losing cause as 10th-seeded PHS fell 78-50 to second-seeded Nottingham in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers, now 11-12, host Hillsborough on February 23 and play at Wall on February 25 before starting action in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional where they are seeded 13th and will play at 4th-seeded Marlboro in an opening round contest on February 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Getting routed 85-42 by Notre Dame in its regular season finale last Wednesday wouldn’t seem to be the ideal way for the Princeton High boys’ basketball team to get ready for postseason play. more

NET GAIN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey goalie Annika Asplundh guards the net in the state Prep championship game last week. Senior star Asplundh made 36 saves in a losing cause as PDS fell 2-1 to Morristown-Beard in the February 14 contest as the tournament was revived after an 11-year absence. Last Sunday, Asplundh and the Panthers turned the tables on Mo-Beard, edging the Crimson 3-2 in the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) Hengerer Division third-place game. PDS, now 14-11-1, hosts Mater Dei on February 23 to wrap up its season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the state Prep girls’ hockey tournament being played for the first time since 2006, Annika Asplundh and her teammates on the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team were fired up to host Morristown-Beard in the title game last week. more

GOING THE DISTANCE: Princeton High boys’ track distance stars, from left, junior Alex Ackerman, junior Will Hare, and senior Alex Roth celebrate after helping PHS place first at the Central Group 4 indoor sectional meet earlier this month. Last Friday in the state Group 4 indoor championship meet at the Bennett Center in Toms River, Roth and Hare scored all 26 points as the Little Tigers finished in a tie for third with Egg Harbor behind champion East Orange (41 points) and runner-up Trenton (36 points). Roth and Hare will be competing in the Meet of Champions on February 25.

It turned into a two-man show for the Princeton High boys’ track team as it found itself in title contention at the state Group 4 indoor championship meet last Friday. more

February 15, 2017

TURNING THE CORNER: Princeton University men’s hockey player Josh Teves races up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Teves tallied a goal and an assist to help Princeton defeat No. 18 St. Lawrence 3-1. A day later, Teves contributed a goal and an assist as the Tigers overcame a 2-0 third period deficit to defeat Clarkson 3-2 in overtime and extend their unbeaten streak to six. Princeton, now 11-11-3 overall and 6-9-3 ECAC Hockey, plays at Rensselaer on February 17 and at Union on February 18.

Even though the Princeton University men’s hockey team found itself trailing No. 18 St. Lawrence 1-0 midway through the first period last Friday at Baker Rink, Josh Teves wasn’t fazed. more

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Olivia Hompe heads to goal in a game last season. Senior star attacker and tri-captain Hompe figures to be Princeton’s top offensive threat again this season after scoring 59 points on 47 goals and 12 assists as a junior. The Tigers open their 2017 campaign by hosting Temple on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The six seniors on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team have already accomplished a lot in their careers. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Gavin McBride heads upfield in action last year. Senior attackman and co-captain McBride is the team’s leading returning scorer, having tallied 34 points on 26 goals and eight assists last season. Princeton, which is being guided by new head coach Matt Madalon, opens its 2017 campaign by hosting NJIT on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, getting the chance to go on an overseas trip to Portugal last fall could not have come at a better time. more

TITLE SHOT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Tyler Coffey controls the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, junior star Coffey scored a first period goal to help second-seeded PDS defeat top-seeded Morristown-Beard 2-1 in the state Prep title game. The Panthers, now 13-10-2 will be taking part in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) playoffs this week, where they are seeded fourth and are playing at top-seeded LaSalle College High (Pa.) in the semis on February 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last February, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team couldn’t catch a break as it fell 3-0 to Morristown-Beard in the state Prep title game. more

IN STRIDE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Olivia Intartaglia, left, dribbles past a foe in recent action. Last Wednesday against WW/P-South, sophomore guard Intartaglia scored eight points off the bench but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 32-24. The Little Tigers, who moved to 5-16 with a 40-27 loss to Steinert last Monday, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 14th and play at third-seeded Allentown in a first round contest on February 17. Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off the bench this season for the Princeton High girls basketball team, Olivia Intartaglia is determined to provide a spark. more

FINAL PUSH: Princeton High wrestler Ethan Guerra, right, controls a foe in recent action. Senior star Guerra has been a stalwart at 195 pounds for the Little Tigers, taking second in the Mercer County Tournament in late January. Guerra and his teammates will be competing in the District 19 tournament at Old Bridge from February 17-18. 17-18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Murphy’s law has reigned this winter for the Princeton High wrestling team. more

ON A MISSION: Hun School boys’ hockey player Tanner Preston fires the puck up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, senior defenseman and co-captain Preston tallied a goal and two assists to help seventh-seeded Hun defeat second-seeded Lawrence 7-0 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and improve to 6-15. The Raiders, who are going after their fourth straight MCT crown, were slated to play third-seeded Notre Dame in the semis on February 14 with the winner advancing to the title game on February 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Facing second-seeded Lawrence High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament last Wednesday, the three-time defending champion Hun School boys’ hockey team had a chip on its shoulder. more

PENNED IN: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Bey-Shana Clark gets thwarted by a Pennington School player last Sunday in the state Prep B semifinals. Sophomore star Clark scored seven points in a losing cause as top-seeded Stuart fell 48-23 to fourth-seeded and defending champion Pennington. The Tartans, now 18-8, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded eighth and will be hosting ninth-seeded Nottingham in an opening round contest on February 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting a run-and-gun Pennington School squad in the state Prep B semis last Sunday afternoon, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team was looking to slow things down. more

HANDLING HIS BUSINESS: Princeton University men’s basketball player Steven Cook handles the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Cook scored 19 points and had eight rebounds to help Princeton edge Columbia 61-59. A day earlier, Cook passed the 1,000-point mark in his Princeton career when he tallied nine points in a 69-60 win over Cornell. Princeton, which has posted 11 straight wins and is now 15-6 overall and 8-0 Ivy League, plays at Yale on February 17 and at Brown on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Columbia’s Jake Killingsworth lofted a three-pointer with seconds remaining in regulation and the Princeton University men’s basketball team clinging to a 61-59 lead over the Lions, the crowd at Jadwin Gym held its breath as the ball flew to the hoop. more

February 8, 2017

BOUNCING BACK: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kenya Holland dribbles up the court in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, junior guard Holland returned to action after undergoing a knee operation in December and starred off the bench as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 85-55 on Friday and then edged Harvard 63-58 in overtime a day later. The Tigers, now 9-9 overall and 3-2 Ivy League, play at Cornell on February 10 and at Columbia on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton University women’s basketball team was excited to return to action from its two-week exam break as it hosted Dartmouth last Friday, nobody was happier than Kenya Holland. more

FIGHTING FOR POSITION: Princeton University women’s hockey player Cassidy Tucker, right, battles a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward Tucker scored a goal to help Princeton defeat visiting Brown 6-1. The tenth-ranked Tigers, now 15-7-3 overall and 11-5-2 ECAC Hockey, play at No. 4 Clarkson (21-4-5 overall, 15-1-2 ECACH) on February 10, and at No. 3 St. Lawrence (23-3-2 overall, 15-2-1 ECACH) on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Riding an 11-game unbeaten streak coming into last weekend, the Princeton University women’s hockey team hit a roadblock as it fell 3-1 to visiting Yale last Friday. more

FANTASTIC FINISH: Members of the Princeton High boys’ track squad celebrate after winning the team title at the Central Group 4 indoor sectional meet at the Bennett Center in Toms River last Sunday. Trailing Hunterdon Central 41-22 entering the final two events, PHS rallied to pull out the title, paced by a 1-2-3 finish in the 3,200 from senior Alex Roth, junior Will Hare, and junior Alex Ackerman. It was the program’s first-ever indoor sectional crown at the Group 4 level.

On Sunday night, the New England Patriots produced a miraculous comeback in Super Bowl LI, rallying from a 25-point deficit to pull out a 34-28 victory in overtime. more

FAMILY TIES: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Anthony Trainor goes after the puck in recent action. Last Saturday at Baker Rink, senior forward Trainor tallied a goal and an assist to help PHS defeat WW/P 9-0 as the program held its annual Senior Night celebration. Trainor was joined in the ceremony by younger brothers and PHS teammates, sophomore forward Robbie and freshman forward Aidan. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 14-2-4, will be competing in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and will face the victor of the Steinert/Paul VI opening round game in the quarterfinals on February 8 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

There was a family feeling in the air at Baker Rink last Saturday night as the Princeton High boys’ hockey team held its annual Senior Night celebration. more

LANDING A BLOW: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Coby Auslander races up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore forward Auslander contributed three goals and an assist to help second-seeded PDS roll to an 11-1 win over third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep semis. PDS, now 11-9-2 after a 3-0 win over the Portledge School (N.Y.) last Monday, plays at top-seeded Morristown-Beard in the title game on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As it hosted Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep semifinals last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team was primed to break out of a recent slump which had seen it lose five of its previous six games. more

TITLE CHASE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis dribbles up the court in recent action. Recovering from a knee injury suffered in early December, senior guard Lewis recently passed the 1,000-point mark in his PDS career. Last Sunday, he tallied 15 points to help the third-seeded Panthers defeat sixth-seeded Newark Academy 64-48 in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. PDS, now 15-7, will play at second-seeded Morristown-Beard in the Prep B semis on February 12. In addition, PDS will play at Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) in a regular season contest on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Chase Lewis lay writhing on the floor after driving to the basket in the home opener for the Princeton Day School boys’ hoops team in early December, he feared he might not play again for the Panthers. more

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Shayla Stevenson drives to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior guard Stevenson scored five points in a losing cause as fifth-seeded PDS fell 72-34 at fourth-seeded Pennington in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. The Panthers, who dropped to 7-13 with the defeat, host Delaware Valley on February 9 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Scrapping to the final whistle, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team outscored Pennington 12-9 in the fourth quarter last Sunday as the rivals met in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. more

GOING FOUR IT: Hun School boys’ hockey player Blake Brown controls the puck in recent action. This week, senior star Brown and the Raiders will be starting their quest for a fourth straight Mercer County Tournament title. Hun, now 4-15, is seeded 7th in the MCT and was slated to play 10th-seeded Pennington in an opening round contest on February 7 with the winner advancing to a quarterfinal clash against second-seeded Lawrence High on February 8 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Hun School boys’ hockey team is bringing a 4-15 record into the Mercer County Tournament this week as it goes for its fourth straight county crown, the squad believes it can still be dangerous. more