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Thread: The Nobel Horn

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Default The Nobel Horn

    Credit for this post goes to Mike Brubaker, author of the blog TempoSenzaTempo.

    This week the 2012 Nobel Prizes were awarded at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. So it seemed fitting to feature a photograph of the only horn player to receive such an honor. It's also his birthday. His name was Dr. Edward Lawrie Tatum and in 1958 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with George Beadle and Joshua Lederberg. The Associated Press ran a photo of Dr. Tatum and this 8"x10" print was released to newspapers around the country with this caption:

    NEW YORK, OCT.30 -- NOBEL PRIZE WINNER RELAXES -- Dr. Edward Lawrie Tatum,
    1958 Nobel prize winner in medicine and physiology, engages in one of his favorite pastimes,
    playing the French horn, tonight at his Manhattan apartment.
    His wife, Viola, registers approval.

    Edward Tatum (14 December 1909 - 1975) shared the award for medicine with his colleague George Beadle (1903-1989) "for their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events". The two men worked together at Stanford University developing experiments with the bread mold Neurospora crassa. Their research proposed links between the bread mold's genes and enzymatic reactions and led to an understanding about how specific enzymes were involved in making metabolic pathways. In other words, they made a great contribution to science.

    Actually Tatum and Beadle only received 1/4 of the prize, as the other half went to Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008) "for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria". In 1946 Lederberg's specialty took him to Yale where he studied under Edward Tatum while Tatum was a professor there. In 1957 with the launch of Sputnik and the first spaceflights, Lederberg become concerned about the possible contamination of the Earth by extraterrestrial microbes. He was an important advocate for having NASA sterilize all equipment prior to launch and put the returning astronauts into quarantine. So we have him to thank that little green space bugs have not taken over the world ______ yet.

    But all that science can make for a dull life sometimes, so who wouldn't want to relax with a musical instrument. Tatum's horn is a single horn in F, which was then more common with students and amateurs. Today most horn players would have a double horn in F/B-flat. So I'd be willing to bet that this was the instrument he had in high school. Perhaps with his prize money he bought a new one.

    Just for fun I tried to find orchestras in which Tatum might have performed. In California, he could have played in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra which was established in 1891 and is open to all members of the Stanford University community. In New York City, Tatum could have joined other physicians interested in performing symphonic music in the Doctors Orchestral Society of New York which is celebrating its 75th season next year. At a concert this past January their program included the very beautiful Horn Concerto of Reinhold Glière.

    I'm not sure I would know a microbe from a virus unless it bit me. But I do know that the inside of a brass instrument is a veritable Petri dish for germs. Periodically I wash my horn's plumbing with soap and warm water using a long flexible brush called a snake. If proper hygiene is neglected, the molds and mystery substances can become quite colorful. I wonder if Dr. Tatum once had an Ahaa! moment whilst cleaning his horn.

    The Nobel Prize is probably Stockholm's biggest world event. They put on grand concerts, They bring out their King. And they serve really good food. I'm sure Viola Tatum registered her approval.

    Please note the subtle plug for one of my favorite started threads: Not safe for lunch...
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    ^^ Holey Smokes, Lunasong, that is a fine post. Thanks.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

  4. Likes Lunasong liked this post

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