Monday, August 20, 2012

Stanford and Meeting a Pioneering Scientist…

A day with Martin Packard 017

A day with Martin Packard 018Our last planned excursion in the Bay area was to drive towards San Jose and through the Silicon Valley. From there we planned to do a self guided tour of Stanford University and then we wanted to meet an early pioneer in science. A full day for sure…

I had been to the Silicon Valley several times before so I wanted Sharon to see the density of computer related corporations that call the Silicon Valley home. I had been there several times for some computer software training for both Novell and Microsoft. Downtown San Jose looked as I remembered it and after a A day with Martin Packard 012quick tour of downtown we headed west toward the town of Palo Alto.

We had already been to Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley when our daughter played at these schools while she was in college playing fast pitch softball. However, we  remembered really liking the Stanford campus so we wanted to return and walk around there once again. One of the nice things about visiting campuses is most of them don’t charge for parking on the weekends and Stanford held to this trend. Stanford has a beautiful campus and the architecture is both interesting and comfortable to the eye. The soft colors and soft edges of the buildings are a real treat to experience. Stanford has a quite expansive campus.

Martin and SharonAfter our tour we made our way to meet a good friend’s   father in law. His name is Martin Packard and though many who read this blog may have not heard of him he was one of the early pioneers in the development of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. From Stanford's web site in the mid-1940’s… "By the end of the Second World War, Bloch, working with Bill Hansen and Martin Packard, had succeeded in observing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in condensed matter by the method of nuclear induction. For these discoveries, and the discoveries made with this technique, Bloch shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics with Harvard's Edward Purcell. It was Stanford's first Nobel Prize.”

Marin John and the PackardMartin invited us to his home and graciously gave us a grand tour of his house and garden in the hills near Palo Alto. His wife Barbara had transformed what was once an open space on a mountain top into what it is today, a beautiful naturally landscaped ecosystem near the large west coast cities nearby. We had a wonderful chat with a man filled with a great deal of wisdom who was more than willing to share with us the history of his house and the area around his home. He showed us one of his pride and joys his Packard I forgot the year but believe it was mid 1930’s (Martin emailed and told me it was a 1937 Packard) which he had restored. A fabulous automobile indeed!

A day with Martin Packard 019Martin took us on a driving tour (well actually I drove) on a windy road through the hills around Palo Alto where we drove through lands deemed as open areas to all for recreational purposes. The views of the San Francisco bay area from the hills (as well as the ones from his backyard) were amazing.

Martin then mentioned we should stop at one of his favorite spots, Alice’s Restaurant… How appropriate it was indeed. A great little spot frequented by an eclectic group of motorcycle enthusiasts, bicyclists. locals and tourists such as Sharon and I. Martin said he liked this spot as it was the only place he could find Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale, made in Belmont,CA. If it was good enough for Martin it was good enough for me and it was a fine choice indeed. You can get anything you want... at Alice's Restaurant…

What a great day we had touring Stanford and having the opportunity to meet such a remarkable man, Martin Packard… wonderful memories to add to our collection on this journey we are on…


  1. How wonderful to meet such an accomplished man. How gracious they both were to welcome you to their home.

  2. What a special treat, to get the chance to meet an incredible individual and have him show you around. So cool.

  3. Great to hear Sharon is on the mend and you got to see Martin Packard! Continuing down the coast, or back to Napa?

    1. We are now in the heart of wine country but not in Napa, as we have landed in Paso Robles California for a week stay...

  4. What a fantastic day. I hope you are getting a t shirt from all these schools. You will be set for a wardrobe for years to come :)