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Two class acts

by Michael Nielsen on May 8, 2004

In the comments to the previous post, Pyracantha points to a post at Electron Blue. It’s all interesting, but I thought this deserved wider propagation:

In gratitude for his Web curriculum efforts, I dared to write Dr. ‘t Hooft an e-mail explaining what I was doing and inviting him to look at my own Website. To my astonishment, he promptly sent me a reply! He commented positively on my site, and reminded me that his curriculum section was only at the beginning stages. Yes, this busy elite scientist took the time to send a reply back to a beginning student. This is a class act. I would call it nobelprize oblige.

This reminded me of a nice story I heard years ago: Stanford Nobelist Doug Osheroff excused himself from the party Stanford threw in his honour when his Nobel was announced, saying that he had to go and teach his class of first year engineers. That’s class.

From → General

2 Comments
  1. Mary Messall permalink

    I was thirteen when I discovered science fiction, fourteen when I discovered physics popularizations, and fifteen when I read “The God Particle” and wrote to Leon Lederman. I told him that I wanted to be just like him — a [Nobel Prize winning] physicist who writes books — and that I just wanted him to know he had fans among teenage girls. He wrote me back on Christmas day, saying he was sorry it had taken a few days, that he was laid up with a leg he’d hurt skiing, and recommending that I read Feynman’s “QED” if I liked popularizations. I did, and I still have that copy, with all of my marginal notes…

    I printed and saved Lederman’s e-mail too. He made my day. Bookish little Catholic school… I thought he might be condescending or even a little mocking, but he wasn’t, and I started to think a little more seriously about that ambition.

    I thought I pasted it into one of these diaries… I was going to quote it. I can’t seem to find it, but fifteen-year-old me sure had a lot of enthusiasm for physics. That’s nice to read right now, when I’m feeling so burned out, and procrastinating on my non-linear optics midterm… Just a few miles away from Fermilab (I still haven’t visited!), working with people who work there, as a physics grad student… My fifteen-year-old self would have been so impressed.

    Now if I can just get through this midterm, and finals, and qualifiers…

  2. Prof Tony Leggett had no class on the day of Nobel announcement. But at least one class by another professor was postponed. Prof Leggett’s class on the following day was attended also by a journalist with a big camera.

    Btw, welcome to my newly started weblog.

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