Recorded: 23 Jun 2000
Eventually, I graduated from the University of Cologne and he happened to hear about my final thesis that I wrote there—I was trying to use solid state physics models for biological systems. So I was trying to see if he could understand the unwinding of DNA by taking model—some solid set theory.
Delbruck heard about this and he invited me to become his graduate student at the California Institute of Technology. I applied for graduate standing, was accepted, got a fellowship in 1973, and by that time—and I informed Max Delbruck—and he answered with one of his famous postcards—I mean, if you read my biography of Max—crucial moments, crucial sentences are written by him on postcards.
And so I got a postcard saying, “Dear Peter”—I mean, I was very surprised that a Nobel laureate called me by my first name—“Dear Peter, if you become a graduate student, you should come to Cold Spring Harbor first.”
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).