Van Allen and the Cosmos Club

Van Allen, for all the world recognition of his discovery of the radiation belts which bear his name, was a very modest bloke.

On a trip when we both had to go to Washington D.C., he asked me if I would like to stay at the Cosmos Club, where he was a member.

At breakfast, he looked around the room, nodding and smiling to six or ten men, he quietly said their world-famous names, then equally quietly said to me "That's what I like about staying at the Cosmos Club, you meet such famous people."

He had been on the cover of Time earlier, and himself was world famous. And while I thought he should be the second co-author to our paper on Starfish rushed to Nature for publication, shown below in van's writing is his modest re-arrangement, putting himself third author and moving Curt, a graduate student, second.

Van and Nature paper IMG_106.jpg