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Ernst Peter Fischer, 2000-06-23

 Item — Box: AV06, Hi8: CSHL1242
Oral History | Ernst Peter Fischer
Oral History | Ernst Peter Fischer

Scope and Contents

Ernst Peter Fischer, scientist and science writer, is interviewed by Mila Pollock on June 23, 2000, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York. They discuss Max Delbrück. Ernst Peter Fischer's interview discusses the following: Scene 1. Meeting Max Delbrück -- Scene 2. An invitation from Max Delbrück: moving to Caltech for graduate school -- Scene 3. From Caltech to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: summers spent in Max Delbrück's laboratory -- Scene 4. Arrival at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, summer 1973 -- Scene 5. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: scientific and social life -- Scene 6. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: summers with the Delbrück family -- Scene 7. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: intellectual atmosphere -- Scene 8. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: social atmosphere -- Scene 9. Max Delbrück: an intellectual among the biologists -- Scene 10. Max Delbrück and poetry -- Scene 11. Max Delbrück: literary interests -- Scene 12. Max Delbrück: European and American sensibilities -- Scene 13. Interviewing Max Delbrück: the beginnings of a biography -- Scene 14. On completing Max Delbrück's biography -- Scene 15. Max Delbrück's influence -- Scene 16. Returning to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory -- Scene 17. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: changes over time -- Scene 18. Challenges posed by Max Delbrück -- Scene 19. Max Delbrück: scientific colleagues and friends.


  • Creation: 2000-06-23


Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: Select tapes have been digitized thanks to support from CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant awarded in 2021, these tapes are available for research online via our Oral History Website and in person at CSHL Archives. Please contact CSHL Archives with any questions regarding availability.

Biographical / Historical

Ernst Peter Fischer, scientist and science writer, is a former Professor of the History of Science at the University of Konstanz. He studied mathematics and physics in Cologne and biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He was working on using solid-state physics models for biological systems in 1969 when Max Delbrück introduced genetics to the university. He earned Ph.D. in biology and qualified as a professor in the history of science.

Shortly after graduation, Fischer was accepted to do graduate work under Max Delbrück at the California Institute of Technology. Before entering Caltech, Max advised Fischer to come to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to do research, Fischer obliged, and he and Max returned to the lab in subsequent summers. Fischer wrote Max Delbrück and the Origins of Molecular Biology (1990) and in 2003, completed a biography on James D. Watson in German. He has also published biographies of Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli and received several awards for his scientific publications. Fischer is an author of such books as "Die andere Bildung", "Selling science - The history of Boehringer Mannheim" and "Das Genom" - an introduction into modern genome research.

He has been honoured with the Heinrich-Bechold-Medaille (1980), Preis der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Freiburg (1981); Lorenz-Oken-Medaille (2002), Treviranus-Medaille (2003) and Eduard-Rhein-Kulturpreis (2003).


1 Cassettes (Camcorder footage) : Hi-8 - CSHL1242 ; 38 min.

1 Optical Disks (Talking science with Ernst Peter Fischer.) : DVD ; 33 min

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English