A  Divertimento for the 80th birthday of Dr. Eugene Garfield

A  Divertimento for the 80th birthday of Dr. Eugene Garfield

When I was asked if I were interested in writing a personal  piece for The Scientist about The Scientist I jumped at the opportunity. After all, Gene Garfield’s work of life and style of life had great impact on me. It is the perfect opportunity to pay homage in an informal manner primarily and directly to the human side of  this renaissance man who has the perfect fusion of great scholarship and diversions.

Diversion and its morphological variants have several meanings, and only in some romance languages is the recreation  sense the primary meaning. Still, I could not resist the play on word when paying homage in a light tone  to the man who has been  a great and unabashed fan of  fun and pun (1-4), arts & entertainment (5-14), physical recreation (15-16), as well as other forms of hedonism   although not its cigar puffing, Scotch sipping,  ostentatiously partying cliché variety, preferred by many of the nouveau-rich CEOs (17-18).

Beyond founding, developing and managing for a living the highly successful Institute for Scientific Information and dozens of traditional and digital  publications, including  The Scientist (19-20),  he has published on the side more then 1,500 scholarly and professional papers in the past 50 years, while leading an immensely rich private life, and enriching the lives of many.  No wonder that this made many people wonder how he can do it, but in spite of his explanation some still don’t get it (21-23). 

I envy those who have worked for his company and in his company for many years. I was lucky enough to have  spent a little  quality time with him  at the best beaches - in the shade, of course (24),  shared with him  the best cuisine  without a drop of alcohol or a puff of smoke, of course (25-27), talked and talked shop , and  read and re-read hundreds of his essays in his real digital archive, being virtually at least in his company. By now, I think I know a little about how he does it.

He creates the perfect synergy of the pleasures of science and the science of pleasures, and knows when to stop for diversion and to think (28-29). It helps that he does not live in an ivory tower, immersed  in brown study. On the contrary. He earned the hard way degrees (30-31) in library science, linguistics and chemistry, and he knows the art of chemistry in more ways than one, always looking  for the connections and the commonalities through his restless traveling around the world.

His most revealing  essays (not related to citation indexing) are the ones which show his passion for discovering, understanding, learning and helping even when he was not directly affected, or not  anymore (32-34), and the ones when he is, and vents against the non-sense practices and  those who turn pleasures into displeasures (35-38). He traces down the best sources  (in print and available only in-vivo through personal communication), and gives credit where credit is due through impeccable sourcing and acknowledgement.

The irony of all this is that none of the essays I alluded to and list below have been cited by others (at least not in the source journals covered by ISI).  This is the opportunity to give  credit to him for these uncited  masterpieces with links - in this digital version to the full-text essays in his informatorium  when wishing him Happy Birthday. 


Eugene Garfield.  Essays of an Information Scientist.

1. Humor in Scientific Journals and Journals of Scientific Humor. Vol:2, p.664, 1974-1976.

2. Did you hear the one about...? Vol:4, p.515-518, 1979-80.

3. The crime of pun-ishment. Vol:10, p.174, 1987.

4. Humor in Science: The Lewis Carroll Connection. Vol:12, p.24, 1989.

5. Art and Science. Part 1. The Art-Science Connection. Vol:12, p.54, 1989.

6. Huichol Art and Culture - Vanishing Treasures of the Sierra-Madre. Vol:15, p.270, 1992-93.

7. Huichol Mythology and Culture. Part 1.  World's largest yarn painting is latest in series of ISI-commissioned art. Vol:5, p.164-170, 1981-82.

8. Huichol Mythology and Culture. Part 2. Can the Huichols absorb modern  technology and retain their traditions? Vol:5, p.171-177, 1981-82.
9. The Psychedelic Art of the Huichol Indians. Vol:4, p.348-350, 1979-80. 

10. Jazz transcriptions will blow your mind! Vol:2, p.393-395, 1974-76. 

11. More on jazz transcription. Vol:2, p.461-466, 1974-76.

12. Everything You Wanted To Know About Sax But Were Afraid To Ask. Vol:4, p.193-199, 1979-80 
13. How Rudy Wiedoeft's Saxophobia Launched the Saxual Revolution. Vol:12, p.68, 1989.

14. Sax Discrimination. Vol:4, p.650-655, 1979-80.

15. Catching the wind. Part 1. Sailing. , Vol:5, p.39-44, 1981-82.

16. Catching the Wind. Part 2. Boardsailing. Vol:5, p.45-51, 1981-8.

17. Illusions of grandeur -- and other disappointments. Vol:1, p. 389-390, 1962-73.

18. All About Ice Cream: or, Confessions of an Ice Cream Addict.  Vol:5, p.20-25, 1981-82.

19. How It All Began : With a Loan from HFC. Vol:4, p.359-362, 1979-80.

20. The Scientist: How It All Began. Vol:9, p.249, 1986.

21. What's a nice boy like you doing in a  business like this? or, what it takes to  be an information scientist. Vol:2, p.32-34, 1974-76.

22. What Do You Do for a Living? Vol:4, p.33-35, 1979-80.

23. "How do you do it? Write all those essays, I mean." Vol:5, p.72-74, 1981-82.

24. The Hazards of Sunbathing. Vol:4, p.45-52, 1979-80.

25. An old admonition (with a new meaning) from non-smokers: Live! and Let live!  Vol:1, p. 389-390, 1962-73.

26. Nicotine Addiction Is a Major Medical Problem: Why So Much Government inertia? Vol:4, p.229-237, 1979-80.

27. Alcohol: Are the benefits worth the risks? Vol:5, p.75-83, 1981-80. 

28. Stopping to think, and other strategies for promoting scientific creativity.  Vol:13, p.240, 1990.

29. Taking time out to think. Vol:2, #15, p.12, August 8, 1988.

30. Degrees of absurdity.  Vol:2, p.238-239, 1974-76.

31. Confessions of a cab driver. Vol:3, p.116-118, 1977-78.

32. Of Beggars, Bagladies, and Bums. Vol:5, p.395-405, 1981-82.

33. Breast Is Best. Part 1. Merits of mother's milk. Vol:9, p.155, 1986.

34. Child Care: An investment in the future. Part 1. An overview of corporate child care programs and the effects of day care on young children. Vol:6, p.31-37, 1983.

35. Hotel horror stories. Vol:3, p.198-203, 1977-78.

36. What this country needs is a free phone call. Vol:3, p.226, 1977-78.

37. Money exchange -- the traveler's dilemma. Vol:3, p.522-528, 1977-78.

38. Re-Computing Air Fares -- The International Traveler's Nightmare. Vol:4, p. 656-659,1979-80.