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Speech Transcripts

Ben Rosen Millikan Medal Presentation

October 26, 2018
The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard averred: "If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility."

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Commencement Address, 2018

June 15, 2018
On March 3, 1958, in a letter sent from 309 South Jackson Street, Montgomery, Alabama, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to thank Wesley L. Hershey, Executive Secretary of the Caltech Y, for "…making my recent visit to the campus of Caltech such a meaningful one…I was deeply stimulated by all of the discussions and the contact with the students." 

Address at Ripples in Spacetime: Our New Window on the Universe

February 23, 2016
In 1752, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Peter Collinson of the Royal Society and described his famous experiment in Letter XI of Observations on Electricity:

"As soon as any of the thunder clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger. And when the rain has wet the kite and twine, so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key the phial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained, spirits may be kindled, and all the other electric experiments may be performed…"

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Address at Shanghai Jiao Tong University Graduate Commencement

March 21, 2015
It is a great pleasure to join you here today. I am honored to accept an honorary doctorate and in so doing reinforce my personal and professional ties to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a formidable center of learning in one of the world's great cities.

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Inaugural Address

October 24, 2014
…This inauguration ceremony provides an occasion for us as a community to stand outside the hurly burly of everyday life and to connect to the values that animate this glorious Institute. It is a time to ensure that Caltech's fundamental identity comes from within and that it is never imposed from without. It is an opportunity for us to distill the hard-won experience of the past so that we may create a sense of magic and wholeness for the future.

The California Institute of Technology is one of a select few institutions in the world devoted to unraveling the mysteries of the universe, to creating knowledge for the ages. Although these most basic of pursuits can seem esoteric in a torn world, in the aftermath of the nihilism and pressing immediacy of a 9/11, it informs our identity as human beings…

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