Did you catch any of the presidential inauguration festivities on Monday? It was quite a serendipitous thing, having a holiday coincide with such a public function so fraught with symbolism and portent. That way the maximum number of people could share in the experience and perhaps form a communal reaction to the same stimulus. It promised that things would be different from here on. And we were prone to believe it.
A few weeks ago we wrote about the changes in university education: the proliferation of online learning opportunities and the rapid expansion of the opportunity for free education. Of course, it left open one persistent question: If the Harvards and the UWs of the world were going to be giving all that knowledge away, how were they going to support themselves?
Well, we begin to get an inkling of the possibilities for sustenance in a new ordering of how universities work. And all the while we have a budding example in our midst, and that is the trailblazing Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the director of which, David Krakauer, is the subject of our cover story by Marc Eisen. The UW well knows how powerful scientific knowledge fitted to practical applications can be from its experience with the compound Warfarin and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, engendered by its commercial success.
Who knows what new worlds are over the horizon? While the academicians wend their way there, nerds still have to have fun. How do they do it? That topic is explored by Mark Riechers in our A&E story, "Nerds on the Town." It has taken some time to achieve, but it seems braininess is in.