domebwProfessor Patrick Henry Winston ’65, SM ’67, PhD ’70

Academic dreams are common. Students often dream that they miss a final. I, symmetrically, used to dream that I had forgotten to show up for a humanities class for the entire semester, just remembering I was registered for it a few minutes before the final, for which I had, of course, not prepared.

This year, I got booted out of my favorite 11 am slot in 32-123 in favor of some Chemistry General-Institute-Requirement subject, and I found my subject, 6.034, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, assigned to 34-101, which I consider as dark and gloomy as a crypt. After several cranky weeks and a lot of lobbying, I got my subject reassigned to the Center of the Universe, the gorgeously renovated 10-250, under the Great Dome, but at 10 am, rather than the 11 am slot I prefer, realizing that most MIT students say they are on west-coast time.

Perhaps that dislocation is why I had my first academic dream in decades.

It was my first lecture of the semester. Somehow my daughter Sarah, a senior, and I were having trouble finding a cup of coffee for me to take to class. When we did find a place that would sell us coffee, I couldn’t find my wallet. Then, it occurred to me I hadn’t prepared for my lecture. I found my notes, but the pages were blank. Because of all the confusion, I showed up at 11:15 am, only to realize that my class had been switched to an hour earlier—I had missed it entirely.

I was distraught beyond description, and wandered the halls with great anxiety. I could not console myself; I could not think how I could recover from the blunder. Then, I ran into my assistant, Maria, and asked “Maria, is this a dream?”

“No,” she said, “it is not a dream. You really missed it. Everyone is complaining.”

After a little more hall wandering, I woke up, and realized my first lecture was still a week away. On the actual day of my first lecture this past Wednesday, I left home for MIT quite a bit earlier than usual.