by Judith Slagle and Darlene Baburek
Springer Publishers, the world’s leading publisher of science textbooks, science magazines, and science trade books, offered a contract to Professor Leslie M. Golden of Oak Park on July 15 for his textbook on astronomy. This will be the seventh book by Les Golden published by a commercial publishing house, and the first textbook in his academic field of astrophysics.
“I’m flattered that, in these economic times, when major publishers are reducing their offerings and even proven authors have to self-publish, a prestigious publisher such as Springer has considered my title worthy of publishing and distribution,” said Golden.
The book, Laboratory Experiments in Physics for Modern Astronomy, fills a long-time need for colleges and universities. As astronomer Dr. Golden writes in his preface, “I have composed these laboratory exercises to allow introductory astronomy courses to better compete with more traditional laboratory courses in fulfilling science breadth requirements at colleges and universities. When competing with laboratory courses, astronomy has been at a disadvantage. Astronomical exercises, using actual data, often involve tedious calculations. In my experience, the student learns little about astronomy and, far from discovering its beauty, becomes disenchanted with the field. If the instructor chooses to assign standard introductory physics experiments, then he not only fails to inculcate much of the beauty of astronomy, but he must also justify their relevance to a course in astronomy. This book presents experiments which will teach physics relevant to astronomy.” Golden’s goal was to provide an introduction to physics in the context of astronomy. “The students will be serious learning physics while being enthralled by the joy of astronomy. They really won’t know what hit them!”
Golden shares the concern that the majority of students in graduate programs in physics, chemistry, and engineering in the U.S. are foreign-born. “These highly trained professionals will be taking their technical and innovative skills back to their native countries. While Americans are opting to major in soft fields such as business, communications, and ethnic studies, the Ph.D’s in physics, chemistry, and engineering are going to nationals of Chinese, India, Korea, and other countries who will be competing with the U.S. for the economy of the 21st century.”
Springer will market Professor Golden’s book to city colleges, junior colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. It will also be marketed to college preparatory high schools, particularly so-called science and math academies.
The book includes experiments on mathematical tools, graphing techniques, the optics of telescopes,the seasons, the surface roughness of the moon, bouncing radar off of planets and asteroids, the orbit of Venus, Kepler’s laws, the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, thermal radiation from planetary subsurfaces, blackbody radiation, the energy output of the sun, the theory of atomic spectra, and Kirchhoff’s laws of radiation.
Golden’s agent, Mark Morris of the Rosen/Morris Agency of Oak Park, was pleased by Springer’s generous offer. “This was a book that was needed, and I’m happy that Springer recognized its value, not only for its content but for the promise it has of educating a generation of young people in the methods of science. Golden is a rare individual, with distinguished publishing houses backing his works in science, politics, leisure, theater, music, and an actual full-length stage play. He defines what it means to be a Renaissance Man.”
In addition to dozens of scientific publications in refereed journals in astronomy, Golden has had six other books published by main-stream publishers. These include a book on acting, The Scientific Approach to Creativity: The Improvisational Techniques of the Chicago School of Comedy, based on his work with the legendary Del Close of Chicago’s Second City nightclub; an instructional book on music composition, Basic Composer; two books based on columns he has written for international gambling magazines, Confessions Of A Card Counter: How You Can Make a Living Playing Blackjack and The Best Roulette System Ever Devised; a book on politics, A Field Guide for Political Candidates; and Murder By Mistletoe, a full-length murder mystery/comedy which has recently been published after having been performed in Orlando, Florida, and at a campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
Golden is currently completing a book of math and logic puzzles, cartoons, and science and math essays, The Body Shapes of Extraterrestrials and Other Essays on Science and Mathematics and has begun Astronomy vs. Astrology: Tripping Through the Zodiac. His editor at Springer has already expressed interest in the former. The latter will also be submitted to Springer.
He is concurrently working with an acting colleague on Shakespeare’s Misfits, a scholarly evaluation of characters in the plays of Shakespeare, including the character of Gremio, which Golden portrayed to critical acclaim in the 2001 production of “Taming of the Shrew” by Oak Park Festival Theater; Your Great-Grandmother’s Old Country Jewish Cookbook: Our Bobes’ Recipes as Passed on to Their Daughters, a compendium of recipes, with Golden’s favorite Jewish jokes and a Yiddish dictionary; another murder mystery/comedy, Dr. Baker’s Dozen Murders; and The Non-Linear Mind of Professor Les Golden, a humor book.
Golden is perhaps best known to Oak Park residents as a critic of wasteful local government spending and as a tireless environmentalist and animal welfare advocate. His prediction of devastation to the parks of Oak Park by the current Park District administration has come true as three more old-growth trees were destroyed on May 19, 2010, in Field Playground, making its shadeless tot lot unusable during a hot afternoon, and four healthy old-growth trees were destroyed in July, 2010, in Scoville Park. This devastation was stated as “necessary” after a modest-sized limb broke off in a storm from one of the four trees that was destroyed. In fact, the Park District sees destruction of the entire grove of trees in that park as the only means to youth control. He has steadfastly predicted that Oak Park’s population will fall below the 50,000 level required for federal grant money when the 2010 Census is completed. He ascribes the falling population to the inability of middle class families to afford the well-documented high Oak Park property taxes and bases his estimate on census estimates for the last ten years, garbage collection statistics, declining school enrollment, and the presence of hundreds of recession-caused foreclosed homes in Oak Park.
As a musician, Golden studied with Benjamin Purdom, Jerry Cimera, and Adolph Herseth, and soloed with the Cornell University Band under William A. Campbell. In California, he provided the impetus for the founding of the UC Jazz Ensembles at the University of California, Berkeley, along with Robert Docken and Rick Penner, the greatest success of which occurred under the directorship of the late Dr. David W. Tucker. He was a vocalist and trumpet player and emceed for jazz festivals throughout California in the 1970’s with the UC Jazz Ensembles, most notably at numerous Pacific Coast Jazz Festivals in Zellerbach Auditorium on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, and also performed with his own Les Morris Quintet. The UC Jazz Ensembles has been the training ground for numerous musicians including Michael Wolff, Andy Narell, Susan Muscarella, Steve Carter, Dave LeFebvre, Paul Giorsetto, Chris Gillock, and Dave Meros.
Since 1980, Golden has played trumpet and sang with Bruce Golden and His Orchestra and his own band in the Chicago-area.
Golden appeared on KALX-FM radio as “Flash” Golden, hosting a program featuring jazz, interviews, and comic interludes. He was the play-by-play basketball announcer for the California Golden Bears in the mid-1970’s with George Skofis and Bob Mansbach. His discovery of financial irregularities at KALX-FM led to a university investigation and an eventual change of management and return to the air with improved facilities. KALX-FM became the training ground for, among others, station manager and owner Andrew Reimer and national reporter Lisa Stark of ABC News.
As an actor, specializing in character roles, Golden was discovered by Chicago commercial and film director Josef Sedelmaier of “Where’s the Beef” fame in 1980. He has performed in film, theater, and commercials, including with Tippi Hedren and Troy Donahue in Jack Sell’s “Deadly Spy Games” and with Broderick Crawford in Sell’s “Outtakes.” He studied with Del Close of Chicago’s Second City nightclub, Don DePollo, Ann Woodworth of Northwestern University, and Helen Manfull of Penn State University. He has worked with Val Bettin, Angel Casey, David Darlow, Greg Vinkler, Michael Halberstam, Kristine Thatcher, Dale Calandra, Ned Mochel, Toni Graves, and others in various Shakespeare productions in the Chicago area, and with Arnold Aprill as the Maharishi in City Lit’s “How I Became a Holy Mother,” among other roles of characters in various stage credits. He was an original ensemble member of Chicago’s Porchlight Theater Company. He has over 100 acting credits and is a member of both Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
His subcontinent character was the basis for his stand-up comedy career as Subrahmanyan Berkowitz, and he was a regular as the comic Bhutanese diplomat Jeffrey Clayton Maxwell on the Eddie Hubbard Radio Show broadcast from Arnie’s Restaurant in the Gold Coast section of Chicago. He also performed stand-up comedy as himself at venues from San Francisco to Boston, and in Mexico, on the college circuit, and in Playboy clubs.
Golden’s boyhood interest in the field of astronomy led to this being his academic career after studying at Cornell University under Professor Frank Drake, the first astronomer to undertake a search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. His master’s thesis advisor at Cornell was Professor Bruce Hapke, under whom he studied erosion of lunar meterorite craters. At Cornell he studied philosophy of science with Professor Max Black, the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Human Letters, and literature with Professor James McConkey, the Goldwin Smith Professor of English Literature. He was a recipient of a McMullen Scholarship, was a Fellow of Interfoundation Committee for Economic Scholarships, American Institute for Economic Research, and was a member of the Engineering Student Council.
Golden received the Ph.D in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, under Professor William J. Welch, the Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair in Extraterrestrial Intelligence. His dissertation committee comprised Professor Welch, Professor Harold Weaver and Nobel Prize Winner Charles Townes.
He has published in cosmology, antenna calibration, and planetary science. His model calculations on the radiation and thermophysics of the subsurfaces of planetary remains the basis of research in that field into the 2000’s. His models were the first to include depth and temperature dependences of the thermophysical parameters, utilizing in situ results from the lunar Apollo explorations. In cosmology, he showed that the luminosities of quasars do not evolve with time, an article of sufficient importance that it was the basis of an editorial in the prestigious journal Nature.
He performed research at the Western Electric facility of AT&T, the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute AstroSciences Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Aerospace Corporation and has been a professor at the Heller Graduate School of Business of Roosevelt University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois. He is one of a handful of Americans elected to both Tau Beta Pi (engineering) and Phi Beta Kappa (arts and sciences). He was also elected to Tau Beta Pi, the journalism honorary, and is listed in Who’s Who in Science and Technology.
While at the University of Illinois, he developed the Near Earth Asteroid Reconnaissance (NEAR) Survey. This enlists amateur astronomers around the world to discover near earth asteroids, whose orbits are then determined and evaluated for possible earth collision threat.
He was a selected to become a member of the second crew of Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona, before the termination of the scientific aspect of that venture. He contributes in the public press on scientific issues. He lectures to adult, school, and childrens’ groups on the possibility and possible appearance of extra-terrestrial intelligent life, was the keynote speaker to the annual meeting of the Adler Planetarium on the occasion of the dedication of its new wing, was the Halley’s Comet lecturer on-board the S.S. Royal Odyssey on the high seas during the 1986 apparition of Halley’s Comet and was the only University of Illinois professor to date selected as a faculty member on the semester-long Semester at Sea program. He has traveled in these contexts throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, southeast Asia, China, Japan, Mexico, Central America, and Canada.
Golden was the Feature Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell Engineer magazine. He won awards from the ECMA (Engineering College Magazines Association) for best editorial and best cover. He won the Lili Fabilli‑Eric Hoffer Essay Contest, was the First Place Prize Winner, Senior Division of the Copernicus Essay Contest of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs, and was honored in the Griffith Observatory Science Writing. He wrote extensively for the Syndicated Writers Group of Philadelphia on humor, sports, and science.
Golden has been writing for numerous internationally-distributed print format gambling magazines since 2006, including Gambling.com magazine, iGamingBusiness Magazine, GamblingOnline Magazine, and Bluff Europe. He specializes in the strategies for card counting in the casino game of blackjack, as popularized by the motion pictures “Rainman” and “21.” Les Golden, card counter and columnist, is known to readers in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, Monaco, and other gambling meccas around the world. The prestigious Association Internationale des Jeus de Hasard Ecrivains (International Association of Gambling Writers) named Professor Golden as the winner of the Fortuna Award as the Gambling Writer of the Year for 2009.
ANIMAL WELFARE, ENVIRONMENTALISM, AND POLITICAL ACTIVITY
Animal welfare, environmental, and political activism include Golden’s presidency of Citizens Active for a Responsible Electorate (CARE) in Oak Park, presidency of United Taxpayers of Oak Park (UTOP), and the founding of Taxpayers United of River Forest (TURF). He has slated dozens of candidates and has obtained the election of nine to the local school, library, township, and park boards, including two in the 2009 local elections. His slating ability led to the creation of the Shrubtown comic strip in the early 1990’s in the local newspaper, featuring his alter ego Moe Silver, Chairman of the L.O.V.E. Party. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation in 1993. He has sponsored and presided over numerous public forums in Oak Park on taxpayer issues and received the Distinguished Leadership Award from National Taxpayers United of Illinois in 1991.
“Cut the Taxes” Golden has been a leader and critic of various governmental bodies in Oak Park for decades, but is especially critical of the current Park District administration under the direction of executive director Gary Balling. Golden had noted in 2007 and 2008 that the redesigned south entry to Field Park (previously known as Field Playground) at Woodbine Ave. and Division St. was flawed as part of 2007 park reconstruction, and was in fact in violation of the American Disabilities Act. The playground is adjacent to Horace Mann school and is the major daily entryway for hundreds of elementary school students.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Mick Rosendahl grant administrator, was forced to put a temporary hold on the $400,000 grant to proceed with the construction after Golden discovered in 2007 that the park district application had neglected to mention the destruction of trees. This led to a public outcry. State Senator Don Harmon (D, Oak Park) was particularly embarrassed at his failure to follow the grant application. In meetings covered by Chicago television stations 2, 7, and 32 (CBS, ABC, and Fox), the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the local press, the park district was held up to public ridicule for their willfully incomplete application.
The Park District landscape architect and Balling admitted the ADA violation at the entrance. Golden predicted in 2007 and 2008 that an accident would occur there. Indeed, On Friday morning, May 21, 2010, a four-year old boy was spared serious injury when struck by a car at Thankfully, he survived relatively unharmed. The story received front-page local newspaper coverage for weeks, numerous letters to the editor, dozens of phone calls to the park district, and emergency civic meetings.
Neighbors of the park were vocal in their condemnation of the flawed design. Josephine Bellalta and John MacManus, of the landscape architect firm Altamanu, park district buildings and grounds head Michael Grandy, Kovilic Construction foreman Wayne Gardner, and park district president Mark Gartland were all blamed for the near-death. None received as much blame as did Mr. Balling.
Chris Neville, who lives next to the intersection, lays the blame directly on the Oak Park Park District. He noted that the intersection has created a hazard “since they [the Oak Park Park District] redid the park. The crosswalk . . . was never properly set up.”
Golden states, based on a simple fluid dynamic model, that the double dog-leg, zig-zag entry slows down foot traffic into the park and is difficult to navigate for anyone but a lone pedestrian. With baby carriages, bikes, school kids, au peres, and normal pedestrians, a major problem of visibility trying to enter the zig-zag was created.
"We see a lot of close calls here," said Neville. "It's been a disaster waiting to happen."
Jen Goldstone, a mother who lives several houses from the entrance said, “This is not a school route issue. The . . . Park District created a pedestrian entrance to Field Park, but neglected to create a safe crossing.”
Jay Jamison, the mother of a tot, said, noting the danger, “When I get to Division, I know I have to pick [my daughter] up.”
A local resident, Sandy Waterhouse, agreed that Golden’s warnings should have been heeded. “Shame on park district leaders for acting so slowly on this issue. They ignored warning after warning. Golden was right.”
Anthony Trotta, another resident on Woodbine Ave., agrees, “Our safety concerns fell on deaf ears.”
Golden believes that another accident will occur. “The zig-zag entryway was constructed for one and only one reason,” he stated, “to accommodate the soccer field that Gary Balling put in the middle of the park.” That field required the destruction of dozens of old-growth trees in five groves in the once-beautiful park, previously the crown jewel of parks in Oak Park. In addition to the trees that were destroyed, additional ones are dying every year from neglect during the construction and the laying of several feet of clay over the roots of the once-healthy trees in an effort at cost-cutting.
Golden’s environmentalism is closely associated with his being an astronomer. “We have only one earth. We have only one suitable abode for life. Anyone with the knowledge of these issues and the passion and courage to proceed with what is right has the duty to mankind and all the beings who inhabit the earth to protect it, despite the revenge tactics of petty bureaucrats,” said Golden. “To do otherwise is cowardly.”
http://www.astronomy.com/sitecore/content/Magazine%20Issues/1994/April%201994.aspx , page 22