MAW OpEd for Local Use


Math
Awareness Week
MAW 97
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THE FOLLOWING IS DESIGNED FOR SUBMISSION AS AN "OP-ED" OR LETTER TO
THE EDITOR TO BE SENT TO YOUR WEEKLY AND/OR COLLEGE NEWSPAPER THIS
WEEK FROM A SENIOR OFFICIAL SUCH AS THE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT, MATH
DEPARTMENT CHAIR, ETC. 

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT LOCAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR
MATH AND INTERNET-RELATED RESEARCH AND USAGE BE INCLUDED.
ONE EASY-TO-USE SUGGESTION FOLLOWS THE ARTICLE.

          Internet II - Realizing A Mathematical Dream

     Amazing as it seems, barely a half century has passed since
the first electronic computer hummed through its first calculation.
That seemingly innocuous event took place in 1946, when a team of
vanguard mathematicians fired up the ENIAC - a multi-ton rig of
vacuum tubes that filled nearly an entire room - yet could not even
keep up with a good wrist-watch calculator today. 
     Behind this elaborate contraption lay the revolutionary ideas
of two mathematicians. One was the troubled yet inventive,
British-born Alan Turing.  The other was the boisterous and
eclectic, Hungarian-born John von Neumann.  Together their research 
laid out conceptual blueprints for the modern digital computer. 
     Today, computers and the Internet dominate the American
landscape. Every day tens of millions of Americans interact with
one another over the Internet - which now handles more than 10
trillion "bytes" of information per month. Even ads for cars and
soft drinks proudly display a World Wide Web address.
     In fact, so much electronic chatter speeds over this network
that the original network - originally designed to link
laboratories and universities - has become clogged from overuse,
prompting the White House and National Science Foundation to call
for an Internet upgrade - the so-called Internet II.
     In a recent meeting, administrators of 98 colleges and
universities agreed to join forces with the NSF and White House in
launching Internet II, a more powerful, reliable, and 100-times
faster network to handle high volumes of commercial traffic. That
effort, which constitutes a considerable investment, requires
educational institutions to put up roughly $50 million, with a 
federal investment of about $100 million, just to get the project
going.
     Yet the economic gains potentially reaped from this investment
could easily exceed $1 trillion, depending on how much commercial
traffic the new system sparks. Indeed, as banks, businesses, and
schools flock to the Internet in droves, the opportunities to make
the Internet profitable have also increased. 
     If the computer revolution has proved anything at all, it has
proved that mathematics and high technology can turn video monitors
into learning tools and economic deserts into silicon gold mines.
Just witness the extraordinary stock market returns for high-tech
ventures during the past five years. It has also taught us to
respect the visions of theoretical scientists and the power 
of technical ideas whose time has come.
     During Mathematics Awareness Week, April 20-26, we honor the
contributions of mathematicians toward the creation and development
of the Internet. This enormous communication system - whose
operation rests on mathematics - stands today as one of the most
visible fruits of a growing technological society.
     Modern computing can be said to have begun as the fanciful
visions of creative mathematicians. Whether they realize it or not,
those who "surf" the web or merely tap out e-mail do so on the
shoulders of mathematical giants.

THE NEXT-TO-THE-LAST PARAGRAPH COULD BE CHANGED TO INCLUDE LOCAL INFORMATION, FOR EXAMPLE: (state name) Governor Jane Jones has proclaimed April 20-26 as Mathematics Awareness Week. During this week, many local celebrations are planned, including ... We honor the contributions of mathematicians toward the creation and development of the Internet. This enormous communication system - whose operation rests on mathematics - stands today as one of the most visible fruits of a growing technological society.

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