The names escape him four decades later but Chris Myers hasn’t forgotten the stories his favorite UI professor used to tell during Differential Equations class.
“Dr. Ray Langebartel was the recipient of the 1989 Prokasy Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In addition to being a subject matter expert and an excellent teacher, he creatively engaged the class nearly every week by describing the peculiarities of the great mathematicians,” says John Deere’s VP for advanced technology, who earned his UI bachelor’s degree in ag engineering in 1978 and followed it up with a master’s in mechanical engineering four years later.
Two he still remembers:
“One U.S. mathematician from the late 1700s/early 1800s had the unusual habit in a restaurant of wiping his fork with a cloth napkin after every bite. At the end of the meal, he would have a tall stack of napkins on the floor beside his table.
“Another U.S. mathematician from the 1800s proposed to Congress a ‘global transportation system’ by constructing a giant iron ring in the stratosphere, equidistant from the earth, with straps hanging down from the ring for people to use.
“This mind-boggling proposal created quite a physics discussion."