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Probstein was born in New York City. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School and went on to study engineering at New York City’s night school, while at the same time working during the day for the world-renowned mathematician Richard Courant.
In 1952 he received the first Ph.D. from the Princeton University Department of Aeronautical Engineering.
In 1954 he accepted a joint appointment at Brown University in the Division of Applied Mathematics and Division of Engineering and was given tenure two years later.
He accepted a position as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 1962 and remained there becoming Ford Professor of Engineering until his retirement in 1996 when he became Emeritus.
on Feb. 19, 2014 :
This is the remarkable and beautifully written story of a fascinating family in New York in the 1920s to 1940s. The father, Sid, is a gambler, fixer, hustler, bookie and ticket scalper, always south of the law but always honest and trustworthy. The mother, Sally, keeps the family going in hard times, which is most of the time. The son, Ronald, fishes coins through subway grates in the sidewalks to help the family, and rises to become one the most distinguished scientists of our time.
The author paints a vivid picture of Broadway in the Roaring Twenties and during the Depression and the Second World War, a picture that could have served as the real life model of the blockbuster fictional play "Guys and Dolls" . Along the way the author meets crooked politicians, policemen, and theater workers, and unforgettable characters like Harry the Horse the gambler, Champ Segal the mobster, Joe Louis the Brown Bomber, and Cardinal Spellman, who saved Sid from going yet once more to jail.
This entertaining book, full of joy and sorrow, anecdotes and life, is written in a riveting style that makes the reader feel as if he were part of the family, witnessing the events first hand.
(reviewed the day of purchase)