Connected in time and space……part 1

Once, asked which historical figure I would most like to spend time with, I answered Albert Einstein (1879-1955) or Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965), both on my short list.  If asked again, my choice would be


George Wallingford Downs (1911 – 1964). 

Granted, the name recognition is not there, but he was a contemporary of both Churchill and Einstein, and he was my uncle.  The three were connected by the events of the Second World War –  Einstein and Uncle George were further connected by place and field of interest:  both arrived at the California Institute of Technology in the year 1931 – Einstein as a researcher, Downs as a first year student – both in physics. Only seventeen when he died,  I was much more interested in who was taking me to the Homecoming Dance, than my uncle’s views on people, science, and world events.  I would love a second chance………….

So many levels of common interest to explore here:

  Caltech – its architecture and history, accomplishments and philosophical stances of the three men, WWII, the Manhattan project…









 this building, a victim of the insipid architecture of the late 1960’s, constructed with funds from the Downs’ estate and a matching grant from the National Science Foundation,


still, a cherished memorial.


Filed under Exteriors, Family history

4 responses to “Connected in time and space……part 1

  1. Anna Abbey

    I want to be at that dinner party… as W.H. Auden said, “Art is the means by which we break bread with the dead.”

  2. Karen Watkins

    I think all of us can think of a second chance we wish we’d had…

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