Two Nobel Laureates in Two Weeks Makes for One Excellent Fortnight

I recently had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting two science Nobel Laureates in a fortnight. First was Professor Peter Doherty (Physiology/Medicine 1996) and secondly Professor Dan Shechtman (Chemistry, 2011).

Doherty was included as part of a panel discussion ‘The Story of Science’ which was held as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. A bunch of the local twitterati all attended, and my friend Vanessa (@andanin) did up an excellent summary of the event with a Storify of our tweets, which you can find here. The panel members stuck around afterwards, signing books and talking people. I went to buy Sentinel Chickens, Doherty’s latest book with the mission of getting him to sign my copy. Purchase completed, I was amazed to find him quietly sitting on his own against a wall, rather than surrounded by other Nobel Groupies like myself. I guess I should stop being surprised that laureates don’t draw the same type of fans as Beiber et. al. Anyway, he was lovely and asked me about my work, of which I promptly thoroughly bored him with details about, and he also knew how to spell my name correctly, with the acute over the second last ‘e’. I’ve since discovered that opera singer Renée Fleming is mentioned in Sentinel Chickens, and this is how he must have known.

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The second encounter with Professor Shechtman was at a lecture held at Monash Uni. The small lecture theatre was full to the brim, with people sitting in the aisles. I live tweeted the lecture, and you can see the Storify of them here. I apologise for all of the spelling errors, especially seeing as I have been reasonably consistent in mis-typing Shechtman’s name. I went prepared and took with me his famous Phys. Rev. Lett. paper and a Sharpie. After the lecture I asked him to sign it, and was duly rewarded. I also tried to ask him if he’d seen the Penrose tiled floor in the chemistry building at UWA, but unfortunately he is deaf and couldn’t hear my question properly.

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Two more signatures to add to my collection, and new Laureates to be announced in just under a month. Exciting times!



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