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Saturday, October 24, 2015

GAWA Day #38: Budapest and Michael Antal

Budapest is Michael Antal's favorite city.  His roots are in Hungary, and he annually spends some time during the summer period here.  I just arrived to join the Tauck River Tour to Amsterdam.

My close friend and colleague, Michael passed away this week.  I remember in the early 1980's when I was working in the U.S. Senate, this youngish professor-type from Princeton dropped by my office and told me he had just been selected as the Coral Industries Professor of Renewable Resources.  A third of century later, his legacy?  Twenty-two alumni of his lab are now University professors or group leaders of national laboratories.  Most of them are directly involved with biofuels and sustainability, and Michael's publications are among the most heavily cited in engineering journals.  In fact, he is in the top 1%, having had 100 peer-reviewed publications and 11 patents, including those pending.  

He is, perhaps, best known for his flash carbonization process:

His wife, Ann, is accreditation coordinator of McKinley Community School for Adults, my high school, incidentally.  Michael got his degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard, and first worked for the thermonuclear weapons group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I had a similar experience on the laser fusion program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  I liked to chide him, though, on the fact that he was a war monger and laser fusion was the ultimate peace energy.

We had one piece of unfinished business. He had just purchased a fancy, shiny, copper coffee-making machine and we were just about ready for me to try his product when he suddenly took ill.  While I had fancy lunches at Orchids, or brought a Rainbow Drive-Inn bento to have at Magic Island, Michael was famous for having a banana for lunch.  Not sure how long this persisted, but he did well-control his weight. 

Finally, he enjoyed planning for the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute's Christmas gathering.  His team generally came up with the most innovative venues, and he took this task of bringing the HNEI family together very seriously.

The ms Espirit above actually has a decent internet system, and it's free....except from a serious flaw.  It takes an hour for just one photo to download!  We have a city tour tomorrow, but, as a beginning, here is a summary of the fascinating city of Budapest:
  • First settlement was around the Year Zero.
  • Largest and capital city of Hungary, with 1.74 million.
  • Budapest originates from the cities of Buda and Pest.
  • The population was larger in the the 80's, but many moved into the suburbs, bringing the metropolitan population to 3.3 million. 
  • Known to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
  • Sits on the Danube, and Budapest is known as the Pearl of the Danube.
  • 80 geothermal springs.
  • 70 operating higher education institutions.
  • While Poland is credited with initiating the fall of the Iron Curtain, Hungary was right there at the beginning.
  • The currency is florins.
We actually got a special night cruise tonight.  This could well have been the most spectacular part of the whole river tour:

Remarkable, but Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta largely escaped major damage from Super Hurricane Patricia, a 200 MPH monster.


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