Saturday, February 23, 2013

Glenn Seaborg:

My Favorite Memory

This post was inspired by Will Davis, who blogs at Atomic Power Review.  Sometime in January, Will solicited stories about "favorite nuclear artifacts" for a planned post on the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog.  I had a couple in mind, but was still on the road, completing an 8-week, around-the-world trip, so I put it off until I returned.  OK, OK, I know it's an excuse, but I do think it trumps the "my dog ate my homework" excuse!

Alas, by the time I got around to writing up my story, I was just hours too late.  A couple of hours after I hit the send button, I got a message that his blog of people's favorite nuclear artifacts was posted.  If you haven't read those stories, I recommend you do--after you read the rest of my post, of course.

After consulting with Will, we've agreed that I should post my story on my own blog. 

The story of my favorite nuclear artifact relates to two meetings I had with Glenn Seaborg. 

When I was a junior or senior in high school, I won an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC, for a student science fair or a science symposium.  (I can't recall specifically what the event was.)  One of the luminaries we met was Glenn Seaborg, who, at the time, was Chairman of the old Atomic Energy Commission.  I was just gaga--a Nobel Prize winner and the head of a major government agency.  Who would think I'd ever meet such a person, let alone at the tender age of 16 or 17?  For me, this was better than meeting a rock star!  Somehow, I got up the nerve to thrust the program for the event in his hand and ask for his autograph.  He graciously complied.  I had the program for a long time, but over the decades, it disappeared somewhere in the recesses of my parents' basement.

Cut to a time many years later, when I was Chair of the ANS Honors and Awards Committee.  We had just established the Glenn Seaborg Award, and he was asked to present the very first award.  As Chair of the H&A Committee, I had the honor to sit next to him at the luncheon preceding the awards ceremony.  Desperate to make conversation with this man, who I still regarded with awe, I recounted to him that he had once given me his autograph, but alas, I was embarrassed to admit to him that it had been misplaced.  Without a moment's hesitation, he said, "Then I must give you another autograph."  Before I could say another word, he grabbed my copy of the H&A awards luncheon program, which had been sitting by my dinner plate, and signed it! 

Alas, over the years, that autograph also eventually disappeared, this time in the recesses of my own basement.  However, it is still there somewhere, and just as soon as I have a chance to go through my basement :-), I'm sure I'll unearth it.  This time, I'll give it a place of honor.  To me, it symbolizes the fact that, as famous a man as he was, he remained a true gentleman.


1 comment:

  1. This is just a fabulous story! What a gentleman.. and what a memory to have.