“My Hero Is,” 1996

Sorry for the long absence–I was distracted.

But I’ve recently been trying to pull together the history of the Rice Quantum Institute, which has not proven to be an easy task. The records are spotty and scattered through several collections, really depressingly incomplete. And sadly, most of the original members of RQI, many of them my friends, are gone, which only adds to the sting. This means I’ve had to dig through a lot of boxes that I haven’t spent much time with before. And in one of them, in Bob Curl’s things, I came across a questionnaire he filled out for a Dallas Morning News story after he, Rick Smalley, and Harold Kroto were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of buckminsterfullerene.

After more than thirty years in the Woodson I’ve come to recognize a lot of people’s handwriting, something like a hundred or so I’d guess. And sometimes catching even a glimpse of someone’s hand after they’re gone feels like they’ve just walked into the room, a pleasant little shock. It’s a strange sensation, and one that I hope won’t be entirely obliterated by computers.

Here’s Bob’s self-portrait, in his handwriting:


Extra Bonus: One of the least photographed spots on campus.

This is the only other picture of this general area that I can recall seeing:

Pretty dramatic change in vegatation!

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6 Responses to “My Hero Is,” 1996

  1. William says:

    I knew Bob Curl and Rick Smalley. They were nice to me and treated me as an intellectual equal, which I was not. That is more than I can say about a certain math professor and a certain architecture professor, both of which shall remain unnamed.

  2. harnmarsh says:

    It’s almost as interesting what Bob left blank as what he put in his answers. No cliches, not especially interested in fancy parties, not thinking about a different job. Probably no secrets.

  3. Nancy Crabb says:

    How enlightening to see Bob Curl in his own words. Thanks for sharing and keep digging!! Nancy Crabb

  4. Lindsay Boston says:

    Hi Melissa, I stumbled upon your blog somehow. I just wanted to tell you I have loved reading what you have written about my grandparents Marjorie and Alan Chapman. I love discovering little tidbits about them. Thank you for your work.

  5. Sorin says:

    Thank you Melissa. The “least photographed” corner is a favorite of mine. I believe there is a dedication plate for a long time employee under the small tree / shrub (Camellia japonica shrub if I recall correctly).

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