Next month, emeritus physics professor Gerjuoy hopes to reach the respectable age of 95.
In 1982, when he was 64, Gerjuoy took early retirement. Has he been taking it easy for the last 30 years? Not exactly. Gerjuoy has worked his whole life, still does, and will continue to do so as long as possible. Tirelessly and with joy.
Edward Gerjuoy earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and theoretical physics in 1942. His thesis advisor was the famous J. Robert Oppenheimer. Unlike most of Oppenheimer’s students, Gerjuoy didn’t work on the nuclear bomb in Los Alamos. Instead he spent the last years of World War II doing anti submarine and warfare research. After the war he embarked on the academic career he had hoped for since his youth, eventually becoming a professor in theoretical physics at the University of Pittsburgh.
There, he retired in 1982. But he didn’t downshift into a lower gear. His university gave him the title of emeritus professor, enabling him to continue his research, write papers, and talk at conferences. Having earned a law degree in 1977, Gerjuoy also started a career in the field of environmental protection. In 2003, Gerjuoy decided to spend more time again in his office at the University of Pittsburgh. Despite his age of 85, he ventured into a new field of theoretical physics, called quantum computing information. To his own surprise, Gerjuoy managed to publish 6 articles on his new subject, 2 of which were solely authored by him.
Many people ask Gerjuoy what attributes to the fact that at the age of 94 he is still able to function so well. He is still walking withoutd a cane, still lives independently in his own apartment, and is still able ánd and willing to give talks like the one he has given to us at TedX Nijmegen.
According to Gerjuoy, the only correct answer is good luck. He just happens to have genes that didn’t earn him cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer, or any of the other diseases of old age.
Gerjuoy admits that the way he has lived his life may have contributed as well. He has never smoked, and for many years he walked staircases instead of taking elevators.
And last but of course not least: he is certain that this intellectual activity keeps him cheerfull and relatively young.
So as long as Edward Gerjuoy is able to, he will continue pretending that he´s not aging, even though he knows he is. Gerjuoy hopes to be speaking to all of us again 10 years from now. We sincerely hope the same!
A live blog by Jeroen Balemans