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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

ANOTHER Nobel Prize Winner with THE KNACK

When I heard that the guys who ran the LIGO gravitation wave experiment won this year's Nobel Prize for physics, something told me that at least one of those involved in this historic detection of weak distant signals would have THE KNACK.  It did not take me long to confirm this.  Rainer Weiss (above) definitely has had the THE KNACK all his life. And what an interesting life it is.  Check it out:

Knackish excerpts: 

The family soon had to flee again, when U.K. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed an accord ceding parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany. They heard the news on the night of 30 September 1938, while on vacation in the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. As Chamberlain’s address blared from the hotel’s massive radio, 6-year-old Rainer stared in fascination at the glowing array of vacuum tubes inside the cabinet. The hotel emptied overnight as people fled to Prague.

As a teenager, Weiss developed two passions: classical music and electronics. Snapping up army surplus parts, he repaired radios out of his bedroom. He even made a deal with the local toughs: If they left him alone as he lugged radios to and from the subway, he’d fix theirs for free. “They would steal things and I would have to fix them,” he says. “It wasn’t a good deal.”

Weiss was drawn to tinkering partly as a reaction to his family’s cerebral atmosphere. “This is a German-refugee kid with very self-consciously cultured parents, and he’s rebelling against them by doing things with his hands,” Benjamin says. “But he’s surely not rejecting doing things with his head.”

He applied to MIT to study electrical engineering so that he could solve a problem in hi-fi—how to suppress the hiss made by the shellac records of the day. But electrical engineering courses disappointed him, as they focused more on power plants than on hi-fi. So Weiss switched to physics—the major that had, he says, the fewest requirements.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. Maybe you should write a book about THE KNACK.

  2. This is most interesting to someone like myself!!

    All the best John G4YDM https://g4ydm.wordpress.com/

  3. David Bley, buy the Soldersmoke book, its a really good read. It is about having THE KNACK.

    Ed KC8SBV

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