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The most famous person I ever met? July 25, 2008

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

I had a discussion yesterday with some friends. The topic meandered into “Who is the most famous person you ever met?” I had a hard time because my life has been filled with encounters with moderately famous people. There’s no anyone so well known that they are the definite “most” and there are literally dozens of somewhat famous people. I’ll break the choices down by venue.

Atheletes: Probably my weakest area. While growing up, I lived in a rural area of Arkansas. Dan Hampton, who was a star defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, lived a couple of miles away. In college – the University of Arkansas, a small campus at about 10,000 students when I was there, I met future NBA players Ron Brewer and Sidney Moncrief and future pro football players Joe Ferguson, Ivan Jordan, and Jerry Eckwood.

Music and Entertainment: AS a kid, I lived in Salinas, California. My elemetary school was across the street from Dick Smothers house – he is the younger bother in the Smothers Brothers, the “smarter” one. We used to say “Hi” as we walk by after school. THey were just then getting known. In high school, I met Mary Steenbergen, Oscar winning actress, who attended the neighboring school in North Little Rock, Arkansas. While in grad school in Athens, Georgia I shopped a lot at Wuxtry Records, a used music store. The clerk there most of the time was Peter Buck, later guitarist for REM. Michael Stipe, REM’s lead singer lived in the same apartments as a girlfriend’s best friend.

Politics: My aunt was involved in politics and served on the county commission for the Democratic Party committee for Pulaski county – the most populous one in Arkansas and where Little Rock is. She had visits there from governors and congressmen. I remember dropping by one time and a tall balding man effucively greeted me with “Bill Fulbright, but just call me Bill” as he shook my hand. My scholarship sponsar in college was former governor Winthrop Rockefeller – yes, of those Rockefellers. He was Nelson’s older brother. In grad school one day, I was walking across campus when my advisor called me over. He was talking to a big, older man. “Meet Dean Rusk.” Yes, that one who was Kennedy’s Secretary of State.

Finally, science: My research advisor in grad school was a moderately big name in analytical chemistry, so he had lots of luminary friends. When they’d come to visit, he would either tour them around the lab or have an informal meeting for his students to be introduced. I thought meeting Fred McLafferty, of mass spec fame, was big because I was doing mass spec, albeit simple stuff, at the time. Once I moved to the San Francisco bay area, I met Glenn Seaborg and Al Ghiorso, discoverers of many artificial elements. I had a transcon flight with Nobelist Henry Taube as my seatmate. I met Richard Smalley and corresponded a lot with Harry Kroto, Nobelists of buckminsterfullerene fame. I had a brief attempt at a collaboration with Carl Sagan. His group was making brown goo to imitate what might happen on Saturn’s moon Titan. Nothing in it of note. At one conference, I met the head of OPEC and the crown prince of Kuwait.



1. Milo - August 17, 2008

I met the great EJ Corey, but a lot of people have…
I also met Dave Brubeck, who is much cooler than EJC.

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