What we’re reading


On Saturday, the world celebrated Pi Day. This year’s celebration, on 3/14/15, was particularly special because even the year corresponded with the first digits of pi: 3.1415. But what does it all mean? The New Yorker essay, “To Pi and Beyond,” attempts to demystify the infinite nature of pi and explores some new discoveries concerning the recurrence of prime numbers.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is planning on building a new capital city from scratch. The Atlantic reports that the estimated $45 billion plan will be carried out by Capital City Partners, a Dubai-based private investment fund, which constructed Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Cairo has been the capital of Egypt for over 1000 years. The proposed new capital is leaving people wondering what the future will bring.

The New Yorker‘s “Richer and Poorer: Accounting for Inequality” gives us an in-depth analysis of income inequality in the United States. Jill Lepore previews and reviews upcoming and recent literature discussing American history in terms of inequality.

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Brown alumna blogs about her experiences in Egypt

Mariya Petkova (‘09), a graduate of the IR program at Brown, works as a journalist in Egypt covering the events there for the local and Bulgarian media. Since January 25, she has been documenting her personal account of the events in Egypt on her blog, A Bulgarian in Egypt.

Her inspiring blog features illuminating photos (like the one shown above), personal interactions with Egyptian citizens, commentary on the political situation in Egypt, and much more. In one poignant post, Petkova describes, in full gruesome detail, her arrest and detainment by Egyptian authorities:

“…Next they brought in 6 blindfolded arrestees that looked particularly poor and destitute. They made them kneel down facing the wall which was already bloody from previous beatings. The officers started mocking them and eventually one grabbed an army knife and started beating them with it on the head and back. They were kicking them so hard that the arrestees would hit their heads in the wall….”

It is a true understatement to say that Mariya is brave in her journalistic endeavors in Egypt. Her inspirational work reminds us here at Brown that there is much more to a Brown education than simply an Ivy League degree. Rather, our experiences here should embolden us to go out and have a positive impact on the world, as Mariya is doing currently.

Keeping an eye on Egypt

For the eighth day, Egyptian protesters take to the streets in opposition to the 30-year authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak. In Cairo, more than a million protesters crowded Tahrir Square today in defiance of their government. Though internet and phone connections to Egypt have been shaky, English Al Jazeera is streaming the protests live. Watch as historic change happens across the nation.