From the Life of a Researcher

From the Life of a Researcher

From the Life of a Researcher

From the Life of a Researcher

Excerpt

With Edward Livingston Trudeau, I can truthfully say that the one thing I never thought of doing was to attempt to write about my own life. With him I can say also that autobiographies can contain instructive and inspiring material (as witness his own Autobiography) that is known only to the writer; and that as the shadows lengthen he naturally turns his face to the past, compares it with the present, and wonders what the future will bring forth.

The present autobiography, in narrative form, is the outgrowth of a requirement of every Academician, following a printed out- line or questionnaire, to place on file, in the National Academy of Sciences, autobiographical facts not printed in current bio- graphical reference books. After a somewhat tempestuous career of over four decades in writing scientific papers, reports, circulars, and specifications it comes natural to supply standardized ma- terial on "Family History" and "Personal History." At the begin- ning, however, the task was unpleasant because it seemed like assembling obituarial material. Fortunately among the 14 items listed under "personal history," to relieve the tension the proposi- tus is requested to describe the environment under which he was reared; also record first recollections, earliest interests and am- bitions, and anecdotes concerning his juvenile behavior, which may throw light on his adult performance.

Perhaps I have taken this matter too seriously--like the owner of a mongrel dog, both of whom I met sitting on the elevated platform of the waiting station at the National Bureau of Stand- ards in the early days when there were suburban street cars. It was a hot, sultry day, and sitting there, head and ears hanging down, the dog was staring forlornly across the road. Surmising his thoughts, I said to him, sympathically: "Hello, dorg; how are your fleas?" Whereupon the master turned, and giving me a wilting look, in a drawling voice solemnly remarked: "Why that dog hasn't got any fleas." And to my hilarious, "Har, har, har, I don't suppose he has," the dog began swinging a hind leg to . . .

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