Eat more humble pie this year

January 5, 2007

The new year heralds the season of good intentions. Academics would do well to follow the humble example shown by Sir Alexander Todd, the Nobel prizewinning Scottish chemist.

According to Chem@Cam , Cambridge University’s chemistry department newsletter, in 1957, when Todd was giving a lecture to a chemistry class a student in the front row pulled Todd up on a mistake. The audience gasped. Todd growled: "Make sure of your facts, laddie!" and carried on.

Two days later, Todd faced the students and said: "I have an apology to make. You were quite right, laddie." All 80 students cheered and remembered his lesson in humility, even if they subsequently forgot the chemistry.

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