Ernst Peter Fischer on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Summers with the Delbruck Family
  Ernst Peter Fischer     Biography    
Recorded: 23 Jun 2000

It’s just amazing how you could be incorporated by the Delbrucks. This is actually what amazed me the most that immediately you were taken up by the family, you were part of the family. This is what Max loved about this place. I always compare Cold Spring Harbor to a living room. It’s a living room, I mean, in the house of science. And so you can go about, I mean you do the things that you want to do.

I mean a house is not enough. You have a living room in a house, and here’s the living room and so we enjoyed this very much.

By the end of the summer, I was—I had improved my tennis game, so I could eventually play against Max. And Max beat me at that tennis game, of course, he was very proud in that. And he returned to the—to Blackford Hall after dinner—and told everybody that he had just beaten a German in tennis who was only one third of his age or something like this. He loved to---he was proud on his tennis game.

I don’t know if you know that—I later read this in his diary—when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969. Max used to keep a diary. He wrote a line or two lines every day. And the day he got the Nobel Prize, he did not enter, I got the Nobel Prize, first. This was entered only second. The first note on this day is that he won a tennis match against somebody, and then he got the Nobel Prize. So the importance of being somebody that can play well enough tennis, that’s priority.

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).