While we’re revisiting blog topics of the recent past, another item from this weekend’s visit to the Ithaca Sciencenter, in the form of the picture above. For those with images off, or who read via RSS and won’t see the picture, it’s a photo of one of the inspirational plaques they have lining the walls of their community room, honoring famous scientists. This particular one is for Richard Feynman, and what struck me about it was that the photo isn’t his Nobel Prize portrait, or him playing the bongos, but a somewhat grainy picture of him standing next to a telescope in the desert, pushing a baby carriage.

This seemed to fit very nicely with my recent-ish comment about Feynman and his kids, in the wake of the stroganoff scandal. I really like this, for reasons described in that old post, and can’t help wondering how that particular photo got picked, given that all the others were either formal head shots or cartoon representations of the honoree’s science. Feynman had a Cornell connection, of course, so it might be that the donor was a family friend, or something.

Anyway, that struck me, and I had a cell phone camera, so you get to see it, too. I’m not sure of the context– my weak Google skills were unable to turn up that picture online, and while I think it might’ve been in Gleick’s book, that’s in my office on campus– but I’m all in favor of a little more recognition of the fact that famous male scientists have families, too.


  1. #1 Eric Lund
    May 28, 2013

    the stroganoff scandal

    For the benefit of those of us (like me) who have no idea what you are referring to, could you explain this? Or, like Calvin’s “Noodle Incident”, is this to be left to the imagination, where it is sure to be even more outrageous?

    Feynman did describe his interactions with his children in one of his memoirs (I think it was the second one, but I don’t have them handy ATM). He found that they were wired differently: Carl responded well to Richard’s attempt to reproduce the interactions Richard had had with his father, and Carl went into a technical field (computer science, IIRC). Michelle did not enjoy that kind of interaction; Richard concluded that he had to take a different approach with her.

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    May 28, 2013

    I think there’s a link in the earlier post linked above, but there was an obituary for a prominent female rocket scientist in the New York Times that started with “She made a mean beef stroganoff…” Which was almost certainly intended as a warm, humanizing element, but went horribly, horribly wrong along the way.

  3. #3 dean
    May 28, 2013

    “Stroganoff scandal” – does that refer to the original opening for the NY Times’ obituary of Yvonne Brill?

  4. #4 RM
    May 28, 2013

    I believe “the stroganoff scandal” is probably referring to the recent New York Times obituary of Yvonne Brill, a rocket scientist “who also made a mean beef stroganoff”, and the resulting kerfuffle that ensued (especially on the internet) regarding if mentioning a woman scientist’s domestic accomplishments minimizes her importance as a scientist. (Chad’s take at http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/04/15/real-scientists-have-families-too/ )

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    May 28, 2013

    OK, I’d remembered a dustup about Dr. Brill’s obit, but I’d forgotten her alleged signature dish. Which wasn’t that important anyway; the point was that they were making her out to be a good cook who happened to be a good scientist, rather than the other way around. There are also so many “scandals”, real and imagined, that it’s hard to keep track. This one was probably more a case of aggravated cluelessness than something with malicious intent, but that line is rather thinly drawn.

  6. #6 Slipper.Mystery
    CA desert
    May 28, 2013

    California desert, 1969, with his daughter Michelle in the baby carriage

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