Say you wake up on the morning of your 100th birthday, having achieved the pinnacle of recognition in your chosen field and the warm esteem of family, friends and colleagues. How would you celebrate the day ahead?
“Work,” quipped Caltech chemistry professor Rudy Marcus at a lunch in honor of his centenary Friday.
But the university where he’s been on the faculty for 45 years had other plans, so the Nobel laureate good-naturedly agreed to a symposium in his honor.
Generations of Marcus’ colleagues and former students gathered at the Athenaeum, Caltech’s faculty club, to celebrate a scientist who still reports to the book-lined office he has occupied on the Pasadena campus since 1978, and whose inquisitiveness and generous spirit remains undimmed.
He hung up his skis at the age of 90, not because he couldn’t physically continue, but because it seemed unwise to do so.
“I’d love to ski, but I’d love not to break any bones,” he said. “Once people get hospitalized, for some that’s the beginning of the end, and there’s too much to do yet.”