Wednesday, September 15, 2010

George Williams

I was saddened today to hear that George Williams had recently passed away. George was one of my advisors at Stony Brook and a big influence on me.

When I say I'm a slow thinker and proud of it, I always think of George. I used to sit with him in his office, pose questions, and wait for minutes for a response. I learned it was worth the wait because he always had amazing things to say, things I could never have thought of. George always had a way of looking at things with new eyes, even when nobody had done that in a very long time. It was a rare gift. I would have liked to have stayed his student, but I got to know him just as he was about to retire, so I had to move on and choose another advisor who would have more time for me. But I continued to visit him for some time. I wish I had known him for longer still.

In George's lab at Stony Brook there was a clock high up on the wall. It was too high to change every time daylight savings time came and went, so he just put a sign under it that said "Standard time - more or less." That was pure George.

I defer to Richard Dawkins, who said:
A wonderful scientist and a great gentleman, sadly missed.
My condolences to George's family.

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