Ernst Peter Fischer on From Caltech to CSHL:Summers Spent In Delbruck's Lab
  Ernst Peter Fischer     Biography    
Recorded: 23 Jun 2000

And then there was ‘73. And then I went to Caltech and started my graduate program at the California Institute of Technology with Max as my advisor. And as it turned out he loved Cold Spring Harbor, so we—each summer he moved the laboratory to Cold Spring Harbor and we moved along.

So we had a lot of opportunities to take the red eye special as you know it is called—the planes that leave Los Angeles late at night and arrive early in New York. So, all these red eye specials. And we came here and spent the summer here and Max arranged for all these things and I remember especially a situation when the summer was going to end. So let’s see, it would be coming closer to the time of September then you noticed here in Cold Spring Harbor, the early signs of fall. And all of a sudden you could see him look at the leaves and he would pick up the leaves—that first sign that the summer was going to end, and then he would call us up, “Manny, fall is here. I think we have to return to California.” It was kind of a celebration. He enjoyed this; he experienced so to speak the whole season and nature at this moment. And I thought this was very impressive the way he did this and the way he lived with the seasons and with a certain enjoyment of nature that he, of course, loved to investigate at the same time. So Cold Spring Harbor was always a highlight. We had to come along and try to do experiments in the laboratory. We could exactly know that the summer was over by another sign. It was not the fall started, but it was—we noticed that the summer was over when the contamination of the lab was so bad that every fungus was growing on every plate and every bacteria was growing in every culture. So eventually we said, that’s it, that’s all, we have to clean the whole place and so now we go home back to California. And then we started this over again.

Ernst Peter Fischer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Constance since 1994. He studied mathematics and physics in Cologne and biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned Ph.D. in biology and qualified as a professor in the history of science.

He has published biographies of Max Delbrück, Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli and James D. Watson and received several awards for his scientific publications. Fischer is an author of such books as "Die andere Bildung", "Selling science - The history of Boehringer Mannheim" and "Das Genom" - an introduction into modern genome research.

He has been honoured with the Heinrich-Bechold-Medaille (1980), Preis der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Freiburg (1981); Lorenz-Oken-Medaille (2002), Treviranus-Medaille (2003) and Eduard-Rhein-Kulturpreis (2003).