Sunday, April 22, 2012

Starstruck - Life with Alex Fraser

Alex was well aware of his capability and his contribution to genetics.  His confidence in his direction was one of the most intriguing and attractive things about him.  He wasn't without his share of arrogance but he carried it with flair and of course he was right.  I don't believe I ever get caught him when he wasn't although I did murder him at Perquackey.  On points of fact, he was ever the scientist and something was never presented as fact if he did not consider it scientifically-valid to call it true. That he was right on so many things either alienated people altogether or drew them into life-time bonds.

Some of those bonds resulted in extraordinary gatherings at home and I had no idea of the significance of it at the time but Sir Otto Frankel, Thomas Dobzhanksy, Dick Lewontin, and I'm sure others were in the living room with Alex for a private gathering.  Sir Otto was close to a father in the respect my father held for him and we kids called him Uncle Otto as he always visited on his frequent trips around the world.

I know through my father that these men are Big Names in Genetics but there would no way of knowing it otherwise.  The significance of it to me was that I wanted to ask Uncle Otto whether I should continue with the guitar or pursue science.  It seems banal relative to whatever they must have been discussing but from my standpoint he was my Uncle Otto and this was a huge question.

He said, in effect, you've got to follow what you believe.  These scientists did that and achieved extraordinary things.

Note:  Some of these articles are reflections from hard scientists and you can click the Index tab for a quick link to them.  Other articles are reflections from the family as he was unique but they don't make movies about geneticists so the blog will tell the story instead.