Yesterday I was at a dinner arranged for some Participants of the Nobel laureate Meeting by the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft. Attending were seven young researchers from Germany, the Czech republic and India, meeting laureates Walter Kohn and Sir Harold Kroto.
Sir Harry, as he wants to be called (according to the laureate meeting staff, who spent some time pondering if the ‘Sir’ goes before or after the ‘Professor’ in an official letter), turned out to be a born storyteller and easily entertained the whole table.
After trying to guess all four of Walter Kohn’s multiple official citizenships (austrian, german, british and american), he launched a volley of amusing anecdotes about his life and work. He readily admitted to outsourcing his memory to his wife, who also was there and endured her husband’s shenanigans with dignity. She appears to be a remarkable person.
I found that one thing Professor Kroto delegates to his wife is reading invitation e-mails. When I asked him if he knew about the EuCheMS 2010 conference, he claimed he never heard about it, or rather he did, but in a very abstract sense. Kroto gets piles of invitations every day, so he found a way to deal with the incoming tsunami: To him, there are three kinds of e-mail invitation. The only mail Sir Harold Kroto actually reads is personal mail from people he knows. Mails starting “Dear recipient” or the like, on the other hand, get deleted unread.
Most mails, however, are adressed “Dear Professor Kroto”, or something like that. Those get passed on to Lady Margaret, who sorts through them and decides (at least if you believe Sir Harold) which conference locations she likes best. If you want Kroto to be around, you’d better hold your conference on the Bahamas or some other location likely to appeal to Lady Margaret…
I’m not sure if Nuernberg fits that description.