The Thread pp 25-30 | Cite as


  • Philip J. Davis


In the summer of 1967, I was having lunch with Professor and Mrs. Alexander Ostrowski on the outdoor porch of their villa in Montagnola overlooking Lake Lugano. Ostrowski, one of the world’s finest mathematicians, was then professor emeritus of the University of Basel. We had first met in Washington in 1952 and had kept up a friendship. I recall we were drinking a delicious non-alcoholic wine (grape juice, really) called Traubensaft, common enough on the continent but obtainable in the U.S.A. only in specialty shops. Traubensaft is reasonably sweet and my glass was soon attacked by a swarm of yellowjackets. Mrs. Ostrowski observed my distress and knew a solution. She put a little bit of juice into a shallow dish and set it out as a decoy. The yellow-jackets were attracted to the dish away from my glass. I had never seen this trick before and I suggested to Mrs. Ostrowski that she had psychoanalyzed the bugs and knew what made them tick (she was a practicing analyst). She answered only that one must always allow nature to have its tithe.


Circular Motion Grape Juice Flexible Chain Steam Engine Straight Line Motion 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1983

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  • Philip J. Davis

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