Meanwhile, Frank Gehry's towering, tilting Stata Center, completed in 2004, suggests a meltdown in progress. In a good way. There's a cafe inside, along with colorful, oversized photos of striking scenes around the world. The school (undergrad sticker price: $50,000 yearly) has seven Nobel Prize winners on its faculty, and alumni include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tom Scholz, the Boston guitarist behind those killer power chords on that golden '70s oldie "More Than a Feeling." If you take a student tour like the one I got from 20-year-old junior Lizi George, you'll get to stride down "the infinite corridor," a passage that runs about 300 yards through the spine of the campus. You'll hear that the curved roof of Kresge Auditorium (designed by Saarinen) makes one-eighth of a perfect sphere. Passing grassy Killian Court, you're almost sure to see a few undergrads playing ultimate Frisbee or juggling. Now ask yourself: Are these sports or thinly disguised physics experiments?
Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles