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In which John gets all fan girly about Norbert Wiener.


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A Bunny
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((') (')
Good morning, Hank.

It's Wednesday. I have an unusually short period of time in which to shoot and edit this video today, so this one's gonna be built for speed, not built for comfort. So Hank, it turns out the hotel at MIT, the hotel that I was staying at in Boston, is even more awesome and Nerdfighterly than even I knew about.

For starters, a lot of the light fixtures look a lot like circuit boards. Also, in the lobby, they have a bunch of robots on display from MIT's artificial intelligence lab. Not to mention the fact that the hotel itself is located at the corners of Sidney and Green.

Hank! It's Mom! And of course, like any awesome hotel, there's a reading room.

So I'm sitting in the reading room, and I'm just like, uh, reading, and then I leave the reading room to go meet M. T. Anderson, and on my way out, I happen to notice what the reading room is called.

Hank, it's the Norbert Wiener room! Hank, I don't wanna get all fangirly on you, but I am a huge Norbert Wiener fan. He is my favorite child prodigy of all time and they named the reading room at the hotel at MIT after him!

Yes! Nerdfighters! Hank, it might seem like I'm getting a little bit too excited about the whole Norbert Wiener thing, but you have to understand, I really like Norbert Wiener.

Hank, I originally became aware of the existence of Norbert Wiener when I was researching my second book, An Abundance of Katherines, shameless plug, and aside from having what is unquestionably the greatest Nerdfighter name of all time, it turns out that Norbert Wiener is also Made of Awesome in many other respects. Hank, the thing about child prodigies is that, as impressive as they are intellectually as children, they often don't continue that intellectual growth into adulthood, and in fact, many famous child prodigies end up becoming really miserable solipsistic adults. In fact, when Norbert Wiener was a kid, he was in college at Harvard, and he was at Harvard at the same time as another famous child prodigy named William James Sidis.

William James Sidis was even smarter than Norbert Wiener, and everyone was like, man, William James Sidis is gonna be like the most important intellectual figure in the whole history of the United States. I mean, Hank, when the guy was thirteen, he was lecturing in astrophysics at Harvard. But then, when William James Sidis became an adult, he stopped being interested in astrophysics, and he started being really really really interested in railroad traffic signals.

And then William James Sidis went on to spend like thirty years writing this, like, eight thousand page manuscript, that's everything you ever needed to know about railroad traffic signals, all the while working as a bookkeeper. And then he died alone. Anyway, Norbert Wiener was totally headed for the William James Sidis fate, except Norbert Wiener, like, rose up out of the ashes of his childhood genius and actually managed to become an adult genius.

He invented the field of cybernetics and he's this like hugely important applied mathematician and I just love him. John Green is to Norbert Wiener as Chris Crocker is to Brittany Spears. I mean, seriously, Hank, if Norbert Wiener were to rise from the dead and perform at the MTV Video Awards and everyone made fun of his performance because he was socially awkward and everything, I would totally cry.

One other really cool thing about Norbert Wiener? He looked a lot like Colonel Sanders. Speaking of genius, Hank, thanks for sneaking us in to the They Might Be Giants concert.

They were, as always, awesome. Also, your video yesterday reminded me of all those months when you were in high school when you always spoke with a fake British accent, and you kind of acted like it was your real, regular accent. Hank, I'll see you tomorrow.