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The BoBs

Work prevented me from joining my friends to have a couple beers on our brains last week but a local reporter showed up to witness the gathering and write them up. 

Just for the record, I'm the youngest - but, hey, I wasn't there.  That'll teach me to put work over beer.

Scientific talk comes to a head

March 24, 2013   Paul Fattig

By Paul Fattig

Mail Tribune

Beer is not required to get the intellectual juices flowing, but when quaffed in moderation it doesn't gum it up, the scientist concluded.

"It lubricates the process," insists Ed Shelley, 80, a retired physicist.

OK, he was speaking with his tongue held slightly in cheek.

After all, when the small group of mostly retired scientists who call themselves "Brains on Beer" hold court, theirs is sober contemplation and reflection on the state of life on our rotating orb.

They refers to themselves as BoBs, which you have to admit is better than SoBs.

"We discuss scientific issues of the day with occasional side trips into politics, philosophy, religion and nonsense," observes member Frank Lang, 75, a retired biology professor from Southern Oregon University.

The topic can be anything from quantum physics to home-brewing. Brewing beer is a very serious, science-based endeavor, they'll have you know.

Frank had invited me to sit in on a session to give readers a little insight into what some retired scientists do after they leave the lectern and the lab behind.

Going on four years now, the BoBs have been meeting nearly every Wednesday afternoon for an hour of discussion and the aforementioned brewski at a local watering hole in Ashland.

"We always throw our loose change into a kitty, which we then use to buy scientific equipment and apparatus," Lang notes.

In fact, they have raised an impressive $2,000 in that time, with the purchases going to the nonprofit ScienceWorks in Ashland, as well as to Phoenix, South Medford and North Medford high schools.

Last Wednesday's backdrop included other folks chatting and munching on pizza, video games blasting and March Madness silently going wild on a big-screen TV.

Yet none of that deterred the scientists from their topic at hand.

Joining Lang and Shelley were fellow BoBs Michael Hersh, 74, a retired aerospace engineer; Michael Quirk, 71, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who specialized in computer science; Bill Radke, 76, a retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management scientist; and the youngster of the group, Paul Hampton, 57, a chemistry teacher at South Medford.

"We'd like to proselytize the fact we want to help local schools," Quirk says. "We talk about what we could do, then we invite someone from that organization to come and have a beer with us."

The BoBs can be reached via Lang at frlang@charter.net. A beer is not mandatory.

As an illustration of their educational achievements, consider Shelley's schooling: bachelor's degrees in physics and mathematics, a master's degree in physics and a doctorate in physics. The latter is from Stanford, apparently a school of higher learning somewhere out West.

These are all really smart folks. But they don't let their scholarly backgrounds get in the way of a good time.


Read the rest at http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130324/NEWS/3032...