Most people associate the Veblen name with Oswald's uncle Thorstein, the famous economist and social critic, who coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption". Mathematicians are aware of the Oswald Veblen Prize in geometry, awarded every three years. There is, however, no prominent book, phrase, building or nature preserve that bear's Oswald Veblen's name, and yet his influence and vision left a lasting mark in Princeton and beyond, across a broad range of pursuits.
Nature for him was a place for both physical work and intellectual contemplation. His environmental interest was both outdoor and indoor--preserving forests while also designing innovative interior spaces such as Old Fine Hall (now Jones Hall) that set a new precedent for mathematical accommodations and later served as an initial base for the Institute.
From the exhibit's materials: "With a passion for the outdoors and physical labor, Veblen often brought colleagues with him on trips to the forest to chop wood and was very involved in the construction of the Veblens' Princeton residences on Battle Road and in Herrontown Woods."
The Veblen House in Herrontown Woods reflects these twin legacies, with its European touches and bucolic setting.
In another quote from the exhibit, "Essentially all of the (Institute's) early School of Mathematics Faculty--Albert Einstein, Hermann Weyl, James Alexander, von Neumann, Marston Morse -- derived from suggestions from Veblen.
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