Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jesse Beams - Illustrious U. of VA Physics Prof

I met Dr. Jesse Beams during my time at the U. of VA. I've heard that he was in the running for a Nobel Prize and came very close. Here is a story about him. It was related by a technical staff member Milt Branham probably in 1976.

One day, in the morning, Jesse opened the door to a lab and found several students inside studying. He said "Boys, the morning is the best time to do research." (accent on first syllable).

Another day, in the afternoon, again he opens the door and says "Boys, the afternoon is the best time to do research."

One evening, yet again, he pokes his head in the lab and responds to guys there studying "Boys, the nightime is the best time to do research."

I was a young newlywed at the time I heard this and at the time was just starting out on my own research. This wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear. Thought it was depressing as well as the story that he would attend the first half of the Saturday UVA football games with his wife and then leave her and go back to the lab for the second half. I was a young man, a newlywed and wanted to have fun and live life.

He was still working in his bed in the hospital almost to the day he died.

I work all the time now and now I know perhaps how he felt. He was a great man. But, in the workaholic aspect I do not want to emulate him. I've been getting close lately though.

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