While I was writing and researching my recent blog on Robert G. Edwards, I was struck by the importance of capturing images of people in their places of work and in their places of living. My father had a friend who in the 1960’s and 1970’s set out to take photographs of everyday things that he was pretty sure would no longer exist in, say twenty-five years. What images that show the way people live or lived gives us a momentary glimpse into another time. It is for this quality that we value nineteenth century photographs that aren’t just portraits but images of what it meant to live in the nineteenth century. And we may even forlonly wish that we had similar images of still earlier times.
So over the next few weeks one of my topics is going to be photographs of that chronicle people at work and street life, images that capture the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. I have a particular liking for images of famous scientists in their laboratories so there will be some of that as well.
And as a start, I’d like to post a picture of myself (Figure 1), in all my youthful geekiness, albeit sans pocket protector. The picture is from 1975 and shows me in the physics laboratory of my mentor Professor Watt W. Webb. I am shown standing next to the worlds first microscope-based fluorescence correlation spectroscopy instrument, which had a screaming 128 bit hardware correlator built by Dr. Dennis Koppel. What’s was it for? In those days we were establishing the fundamental ways in which biological membranes work, specifically how molecules move in these membranes.