Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Old friends

Many, many years ago when I was a teenager my parents had a friend whom we mostly met during summer holidays in Karelia. He was a scientist and a true Russian intellectual. My mother first met him during a rainy walk when they discovered that they had lots of common friends, and they decided to meet again next day and introduce their spouses. As they were about to part, this man said: "To be honest, I must warn you: I am a Party member". They became close friends, and one of the favourite pastimes was fishing. I spent hours upon hours in a boat with him, rowing and listening to his stories about theories of universe. Pulsars had just been discovered. Big Bang wasn't common knowledge. It was very exciting. I had always been fascinated by astronomy (I wanted to become an astronomer, but that's another story). But in the first place I was fascinated by this man's genius. It's easy to have a crush when you are a teenager, but it's easiest when you meet a brilliant mind. At least for me.

He was already then internationally famous, member of dozens of academies and learned societies, honorary doctor everywhere, award-winner, but he was bitter about the Nobel prize, because there wasn't any in astronomy.

Many years later he and his wife called me in Stockholm where he was giving a lecture. We invited them for dinner. Staffan, who was as good then as he is now at cooking, made oven-backed fish with spinach. The great scientist looked at the green mess on his plate and asked: "Do I have to eat this?" Staffan was a bit upset.

One day I was sitting in front of the TV and suddenly saw my childhood love and fishing companion. He had just been awarded the Nobel Prize. Astronomy or not.

If you want to know more, read this.


Ulla said...

Vilken fantastisk historia!

Enn Kokk said...

Gott nytt år till dig och Staffan!