Ramona listened as John told the most
frightening story she'd ever heard. It was another late night,
this time at The Old Collegiate Inn. OCI was a popular dive
on the strip, that mile-long stretch of fast-food joints,
gas stations, and merchants that appealed to college students.
OCI was a great place to eat and talk late into the night.
And John spent a lot of time now at OCI. His new status among
the unemployed gave him plenty of time for eating and conversation
after the lab he worked in was shut down by the university.
Five years ago John was an up-and-coming star. His post-doc
work at Columbia had been with Brian Greene, a physics professor
and author of The Elegant Universe. John knew no other scientist
who was a New York Times best selling author and Pulitzer
Prize finalist. John admired and valued Brian's generous mentoring
for his brilliant knowledge but also for his talent in communicating
research to a wider public audience. After leaving Columbia,
John had encountered Brian's opposite. John was hired to work
in the lab of a well-known physicist, Peter, at Manning University.
Prior to coming to Manning, Peter had worked as a senior scientist
at NIH in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in Bethesda, Maryland. While at
NIH he had consulting and speaking contracts that took him
around the world. Peter was a senior consultant and lecturer
for Pfizer, earning over $500,000 for his consulting work
on drugs that halt the degeneration associated with neurological
disease. Peter was always careful to place his growing shares
in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the name
of his wife and son to avoid any conflict of interest. As
a result of all this work, Peter maintained collaborations
with scientists internationally, and he introduced John to
outstanding physicists around the world, including those at
the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and at the Perimeter
Institute in Waterloo.