TITLE: Small World AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 21, 2007 3:28 PM DESC: ----- BODY: the cover of David Lodge's 'Small World' Recently I mentioned the big pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in an entry on the next generation of scientists, because one of its scientists spoke at the SECANT workshop I was attending. I have some roundabout personal connections to Lilly. It is based in my hometown. When I was in high school and had moved to a small town in the next county, I used to go with some adult friends to play chess at the Eli Lilly Chess Club, which was the only old-style corporate chess club of its kind that I knew of. (Clubs like it used to exist in many big cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I don't know how common they are these days. The Internet has nearly killed face-to-face chess.) I recall quite a few Monday nights losing quarters for hours while playing local masters at speed chess, at 1:30-vs-5:00 odds! Coincidentally, my high school hometown was also home to a Lilly Research Laboratories facility, which does work on vaccines, toxins, and agricultural concerns. Parents of several friends worked there, in a variety of capacities. When I was in college, I went out on a couple of dates with a girl from back home. Her father was a research scientist at Lilly in Greenfield. (A quick google search on his name even uncovers a link to one of his papers.) He is the sort of scientist that Kumar, our SECANT presenter, works with at Lilly. Interesting connection. But I can go one step further and bring this even closer to my professional life these days. My friend's last name was Gries. It turns out that her father, Christian Gries, is brother to none other than distinguished computer scientist David Gries. I've mentioned Gries a few times in this blog and even wrote an extended review of one of his classic papers. I don't think I was alert enough at the time to be sufficiently impressed that Karen's uncle was such a famous computer scientist. In any case, hero worship is hardly the basis for a long-term romantic relationship. Maybe she was wise enough to know that dating a future academic was a bad idea... -----