Ernst Peter Fischer on Scientific Social Life
  Ernst Peter Fischer     Biography    
Recorded: 23 Jun 2000

We worked in the basement of Davenport lab. I think it’s now called the Max Delbruck laboratory, but at this time it was called the Davenport lab. We had one floor there with easy access to the beach. You could go and immediately on the side of the waterfront. And there was a Japanese fellow who had come up with a new technique, how to do genetics on this fungus we were working on called phycomyces. It’s called complementation analysis

And he asked me to join in and within a couple of weeks that I was here we could --actually completed a paper. I was so surprised about that—so science actually worked. But I should add also that when Max wrote me this postcard and asked me to come to Cold Spring Harbor, he added a P.S. on the postcard and said, “Don’t forget your tennis racquet.”


I couldn’t play, but I said, well, if somebody says I should bring my tennis racquet so I have to bring my tennis racquet. So I found a family who had an extra tennis racquet and took this traveling to the United States and I came here.

So I played with Manny Delbruck, Max’s wife. So that’s the way I got to know her.

She was looking for a weak tennis partner and I was the right person to do so.

Eventually I improved my games in the eight weeks because we were nearly playing every day. It’s just also that what you can do. You’re from the lab, you play tennis, you go take a swim, you go back to the lab, and then Manny in the meantime had made dinner.

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).