In Response to: Twisted Chalk

I had to laugh out loud with a tear in my eye (thank you for that in these difficult times) when I read Anthony Zee ’66’s tribute to his professor and colleague Pierre Piroué (Inbox, May 13). He said that after solving the professor’s problem inspired by a broken piece of chalk, “during the intervening decades I have had absolutely no reason to calculate that particular cross section and have totally forgotten how to do it.”

Oh, all of the stuff that we learned that is in that category: useless ... except it wasn’t. I practice but also teach as an adjunct at a local engineering university, and I tell my students that much of what I learned decades ago is outdated and irrelevant — but you know what? We learned how to learn, and that is a life-long, never-ending, always-changing, extremely important process and product.

I’m thankful for that. Thank you, Princeton, and thank you, Anthony, for the heart-healthy laugh.

Brooks Washburn ’75
Potsdam, N.Y.