A Life In Science

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Science  11 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5750, pp. 969
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5750.969c

Total immersion. Nanotech pioneer Richard Smalley, who died 28 October, did not view any task as beneath him, says chemist Jim Heath of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Even when he was famous, he would sweep the floors if he thought it would help to get the science done. Once, somebody dropped a screwdriver into a huge vacuum chamber—the same one that was used for the discovery of C60. The screwdriver handle dissolved in the oil [at the bottom of the chamber], so the chamber had to be cleaned out. [It] was about 10 feet [3 m] high and could only be accessed through a hole in the top. Rick and I had to strip down to our underwear and take turns holding each other by the ankles and lowering the other into the chamber to clean it out.”

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