Monday, March 5, 2007

Greatness and Obsession

My first task here at the March APS meeting was to help out with the prize and awards ceremony. Okay, not really help out with the ceremony - more like put programs on chairs. Which, by the way, wasn't really necessary since nearly everyone that walked into the room grabbed a program off the table outside first...

I like to watch prize winners and I'm always interested in who they credit for their success. For some reason the "thank you to my family for putting up with me" comments got me thinking this year. Probably because I read Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie for 2.5 hours on the plane today (a great read).

The story of two time Nobel prize winner Marie Curie is about great triumph over adversity, but it's also a story of how loneliness, depression, and isolation (even from her children) was the price she paid for her work obsession.

I don't know any of the APS prize winners personally and have no idea what they have or have not sacrificed to become the leaders and contributors they are today. Let it be known that I have great admiration for them and they should be very proud of their work. But I do have a question for them as well as the many others who excel in their respective fields: Is greatness possible without obsession?


On a lighter note, one of my favorite things about meetings is meeting new people and hanging out outside of the office with co-workers. Tonight I had a dinner with a great crew of old and new friends. Here we are chillin' in Denver. (Thanks to Shawn for the picture - he shoulda been in it too!)

FYI - We're not nerds ALL of the time. Very little physics came up at the dinner conversation - we covered the best place to buy cowboy boots, America's Next Top Model, buffalo "sanctuaries", the APS attendee looking for the "exhibitionist hall", politics, and MANY other topics.

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