Oral history of British science

Perutz, Max (Part 2 of 19). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Type


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  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects

    Molecular Biology

  • Recording date

    2001-06-30, 2001-08-18, 2001-09-15, 2001-10-06, 2001-10-27, 2001-11-29, 2001-12-08

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Cambridge, UK

  • Interviewees

    Perutz, Max, 1914-2001 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: MP talks about his school time and about his very good Chemistry teacher who inspired his interest in Chemistry , he started practical classes and MP decided he wanted to study chemistry. His teacher was still alive when MP got the Nobel Prize. MP got his 'matura' at18, he was a mediocre pupil, it was thought ghat he would join mother's firm. Holidays: mother took him skiing at 11 - he was good at it and loved it, brother and sister also took him skiing and in an inter-school race he won 1st prize for his school. At about 15 he went rock climbing with sister and friends, the climbed the Rax near Reichenau. At 16 he went to Switzerland, climbed Piz Palu and Piz Julier. Engadine became his second home. He had a good life as a student, skiing and climbing, not involved in politics. The crisis in 1934, Dolfus murder, did not feel involved and was not discussed at home. Antisemitism did not penetrate his life until Nazis appeared at University. MP's father was drafted in 1st W.W. - was on Italian front, but he never talked about it. When MP - brought up as a Catholic - stopped believing in God: He read "No news from the Western Front" - was afraid of war - at Abessynian crisis he prayed that Mussolini would not start war. Prayers did not help - so he stopped believing in God. Did not discuss his thoughts with anybody. More about his parents. During last year at school MP had English girlfriend and corresponded with her when she left for England. She kept his letters and returned them to him in later years. In one letter, written in 1932 he mentions that he decided to study chemistry. He now describes how he managed to persuade his father to allow him to study chemistry and not law. Describes his studies and lecturers.

  • Description

    Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and author Max Perutz is interviewed about his life and work. Mentor to James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, Perutz died before this interview could be completed.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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