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About the Website Author: James Lipscomb

William Lipscomb Home Page
Biographical Information and Publications
Science Humor

Nobel Prize Scrapbook
Scientific Aggression as a Way of Life
Early-Years Family Stories

James Lipscomb

James Lipscomb

I am Bill Lipscomb's son.

Physics was my first love fueled by 50-minute after-hours lectures from Bill in my room at home and advanced physics books from his lab that Bill put on my bookshelf.  Bill signed me up for Science Explorers meetings at the Boston Museum of Science and for Things of Science monthly kits.  I even got a Physics B.S. Degree.

But Computer Science was my next and lasting love. When I was in high school Bill mentioned, just once, that if I wanted lo learn computer programming, the IBM 1620 computer in the Harvard Chemistry Department lobby was available.  A year later I said yes.  Some of our conversations trade sentences on this time scale.  A graduate student showed me in about 10 minutes how to compile and run a program, and I was on my own.  I was last priority, having to leave if anyone approached.  3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. was for me, as the tough people who could stay up late or get up early were not around.  Bill and I shared a car, which I had to return in time for him to go to work.  My first publications were computer art done in college using the 1620.

Bill gave me other opportunities.  For one summer job while I was in college I translated 2,000 lines of 7094 Assembly Language to FORTRAN for Bill, and the program worked too, after graduate student George Reeke corrected my oversight that a revised subroutine call needed the rows and columns interchanged in a triangular matrix.  Another college summer I programmed molecular dipole moment calculations with Bill’s former student Don Boyd at Eli Lilly & Co.

I flunked out of the Ph.D. track temporarily.  My advisor was the sink-or-swim type, so thereafter I treaded water, upping my master’s thesis to a dissertation in my eyes if in no one else’s.  Then, signed by a doctoral committee as a dissertation it was put on a shelf, while I took required courses to “prepare me”,  and I passed the doctoral written and doctoral oral exams.  Dissertation first, courses and exams last.  I do not recommend it, but it can be done.

IBM is where I have worked since, as ot this writing (2009):
My Curriculum Vita.

Bill is described in the present tense on this website on pages written while he was alive.

By Bill's 90th birthday in 2009, when I created this website (except for the Remembrances section) I had 70 publications, consisting of 39 papers, 24 patents, 5 computer art publications, and 2 records in which I was a back-up musician (french horn).

Conclusion: “Do the children of Nobelists in fact ever amount to anything?  Many, of course, do not.” [1] This published question has a published answer: “But there are at least five sets of laureate parents and offspring on the Nobel roster.” [1]  No other category of success is mentioned. :-)

[1] Broad, W.J.  A Bank for Nobel Sperm, Science, 1980 Mar 21; 207(4437):1326-7.

An early version of this web page is published under the terms of the Creative Commons copyright below in the book, The Selected Papers of William N Lipscomb Jr.: A Legacy in Structure-Function Relationships.

-- Nov. 2009, last updated May 2016,   James is here        Home page

Photo credit: James Lipscomb

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