Recorded: 23 Jun 2000
He was a man of mind, you might say. And this shows up to his very last lecture. And this man of mind—you realize whatever he was doing. I mean, he was very well aware of German history. He knew—he was very well aware of German literature. He knew—but it surprised me, for instance, when I was at Caltech, he, all of a sudden, said, “Oh I have to go to UCLA tonight, There’s a German poet coming.” That was Joey Permen Uvajohnson, probably you have never heard of him. Most of the people in America had never heard of him, and he was visiting the United States and was giving a talk to the German department of UCLA, Max had heard about that and he drove all the way just to listen to his novels, and to his readings and Max Liked a certain way of—I mean he loved very much not to read novels and to discuss them. He had a certain way to treat the books. Once he had read a novel—he had finished reading the novel, he gave the book away because he had read it. So he went over to Cal Tech—we had a special coffee room there for relaxation.
He said, “I’ve read this book, everybody can take it.” So at his homes there were no novels, just science books. No ________with one exception. He had all the collected works of Guter, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Forty volumes very carefully annotated, but you know where he stored them? In his bathroom. The reason for that is—when you were invited for dinner with the Delbrucks there had to be time when he had to go to the bathroom. So we went to the bathroom we expect towels or some other usual stuff. But not the collected works of Guter. So, he was watching you when you came back. What would you say about the collected works of Guter in the bathroom?
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).