Josiah W. Gibbs, a dignified gentleman

File:JWGibbs.jpgI was interested by the depictions that students made of the character of Josiah Gibbs, arguably one of the best American scientists. It seems as if they were the exact opposite of today's scholars in the US who love to christen their group of students with their last name: "Smith Lab" or much worse "Smith Gang". Here's some of the observations (thanks Wikipedia):
Gibbs was not an advertiser for personal renown nor a propagandist for science; he was a scholar, scion of an old scholarly family, living before the days when research had become résearch ... Gibbs was not a freak, he had no striking ways, he was a kindly dignified gentleman.
— E. B. Wilson, 1931
and also:
was always neatly dressed, usually wore a felt hat on the street, and never exhibited any of the physical mannerisms or eccentricities sometimes thought to be inseparable from genius ... His manner was cordial without being effusive and conveyed clearly the innate simplicity and sincerity of his nature.
— Lynde Wheeler, 1951
Unassuming in manner, genial and kindly in his intercourse with his fellow-men, never showing impatience or irritation, devoid of personal ambition of the baser sort or of the slightest desire to exalt himself, he went far toward realizing the ideal of the unselfish, Christian gentleman. In the minds of those who knew him, the greatness of his intellectual achievements will never overshadow the beauty and dignity of his life.
— H. A. Bumstead, 1903
It's difficult for today's scholars to be described in that manner many of whom happily assume the role of salesmen and celebrities air to impress the NSF, NIH, private donors,.... and get their bucks.

 Gibbs free energy. (Right) Thermodynamic Surface done by Maxwell from Gibbs functions.

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