I am sorting through some old boxes of mementos, keepsakes, portfolio stuff, and odds and ends ... wow, talk about a trip down memory lane. I have kept bits and pieces from everything I've done since I was a least a teen going into high school. I am writing this because of one little piece of paper I found (because I could fill volumes of books just documenting everything else in those boxes) — or rather, a business card. This particular card is for one Dr. R.G. Barradas, Professor of Chemistry, Carleton University. What is special about this card is, as I remember it, I had gone to some sort of open house at Carleton when I was in early high school. I got to look at all manner of stuff and try out all manner of equipment and little experiments (including time on a timeshare "minicomputer" through a teletype terminal playing the original Adventure game
). One of the places I visited was the chemistry laboratories where they had lasers and all kinds of other really, really cool stuff (especially as a teenager in the late 70s, but it'd be cool even now). In one particular lab, and I don't know how this happened, I felt invited to drop in... and did. Yes, I would skip high school and take my bike to Carleton University (from Bell's Corner's, quite the haul) and hang out in a chemistry lab. In particular, and thus the card, in the lab of Dr. R.G. Barradas. I remember green lasers and lots of equipment and vials of some uranium compound. He would let me help out with little jobs around the lab and I got some "hands on" experience there with him. I was there when he made a discovery that the particular compound he was testing fluoresced when subjected to a particular kind of laser light. He had predicted it, but it had never been observed before. It was thrilling to be there. To this day, I credit Dr. Barradas with a more mature love of science (a more practical appreciation, rather than any romantic notions I might have had from only reading books... a condition, I should emphasize, did not diminish the magic in the slightest, it only made it more tangible and keen), and I have often thought about him. Sadly, I had forgotten his name until I found this card of his that I had kept. I did an online search for him and, while it's not like he never existed, there is nothing but a historic footprint and no indication of what happened to him. Is he still alive (unlikely as I remembered him being fairly old even at the time, but then I was just a kid, so old is relative, heh)? I could neither find any trace of his passing. What I did see was he published from the 1960s through to 1995 and that's where the trail goes cold. If he retired then, even if he retired young, that was 20 years ago now, so if he's still alive he would be at least in in 70s (or more likely 80s). I don't necessarily want to track him down, but I think I will make an inquiry of the chemistry department at Carleton as to whether they know what happened to him... at least one current professor is listed as a joint author on one of Dr. Barradas' papers, so someone should know something. As I stated, the generosity he showed with his time for the young (inexperienced but enthusiastic) time-sink that I was was profoundly influential on the course my life has taken and many of my attitudes about how to approach things.
Edit: When I dug down to the bottom of the box I found stuff from when I was in elementary school. What a bizarre life I have led.