Peter Ward conducts his research within The Environment Institute's Sprigg Geobiolgy Centre at the University of Adelaide. Peter Ward has been active in Paleontology, Biology, and more recently, Astrobiology for more than[…]
The biologist and paleontologist remembers “the smartest man [he’s] ever known.”
Question: Who are your heroes, scientific or otherwise?
Peter Ward: My heroes were actually the great dinosaur hunters of the American Museum, Roy Chapman Andrews, Granger and those guys. Sagan is certainly a hero. I have a lot of heroes within my own disciplines that are probably too arcane, but Stephen J. Gould is perhaps my greatest hero. I knew him very well. I knew him well enough that I got in trouble a lot with him. He sort of viewed me as his cantankerous younger brother. He once told me, “Peter, you’ll never be great, but you’re pretty good.” Now, that’s quite a slap in the face, right? We all want to be great. But it was from Steve, so I’m great and you’re not as great as me, but I like the fact that you’re doing good work. It was that sort of relationship, okay. But I miss him. I miss his voice. He was the greatest single public speaker I’ve ever, ever heard. He was also the smartest man I’ve ever known. I’ve known quite a few intelligent people, but his processing speed was beyond belief. It’s a great voice lost.
Recorded on January 11, 2010 Interviewedrn by Austin Allen