Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Last Act: Death of a Young Techologist/Violinist.

Image result for violin

Environmental and Science Education
Edward Hessler

The film linked below is based on a touching profile in the New Yorker, titled "The Virtuoso: A tech pioneer's unexpected last act"(January 1, 2018), by James B. Stewart. 

If you don't have time to read the article, here are a few comments I extracted from Stewart's essay about Eric Sun which provides insights about Mr. Sun's short life.
--Sun started playing the violin when he was four but didn't enjoy the lessons.
--At age 13, Sun's father joined the University of Washington (Seattle) as a faculty member. Sun was placed in a high achiever's program and also started taking lessons from a violinist with the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera orchestra.
--Sun pursued computer science and economics (Stanford) after high school and took a job with Facebook in 2008.
--While graduating with honors, his grade-point average was below 3.0. One course he didn't do well in was taught by Professor Jerry Cain, a software engineer who invented Facebook's "like" feature. Sun had many job rejections and finally started working at an economics consulting firm.
--After graduation he stayed on in the Stanford orchestra where he met Karen Law. She had just completed her master's in thermal engineering.  She too was a vilinist. Stanford has an annual Viennese Ball and the waltz choreographers paired the two of them. They fell in love and later married.
--While midway through his master's in mathematical statistics, Sun applied to the summer internship at Facebook and was later hired (One of his papers, a prizewinner was how information spreads on Facebook.)
--Sun did ask, according to Stewart, "Wouldn't it be phenomenal if they (Facebook) turned out to be worth something?"
--Sun had success at Facebook and was asked to move to London to work on a large project. There he made a large purchase, a violin made by Vuillaume.
--Upon his return to California he saw a doctor about his periodic bouts of nausea. Eventually this led to an MRI which showed enough to indicate the need for a biopsy from which Sun learned that he had a brain tumor. This was followed by surgery and chemotherapy and radiation. Sun's brain cancer was an aggressive glioblastoma (VP Joe Biden's son and Senator John McCain were similarly struck.). A characteristic of glioblastoma is its resistance to any kind of treatment.
--Sun pursued several musical dreams following his diagnosis. Six weeks after the last performance of Fiddler on the Roof, he went into hospice care and, less than forty-eight hours later, died on November 23 2017, just fourteen months after his diagnosis. The piece in Fiddler was written by John Williams for Isaac Stern and is a challenging piece.
Here is the link to the video where you can also find a link to Stewart's essay.

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