My memories of Karl are a bit different.


Contribution by Mui Saranwong


My memories are more personal than about NIR. I first came to Japan to learn NIR in Oct 2000. When my Professor, Sumio Kawano, picked me up and drove me to Tsukuba, he told me “You are a lucky person, you will have a chance to meet both Karl Norris and Phil Williams in the same trip.”

Later in November of that year, the Japanese NIR group invited Karl to Japan. I was as afraid of him as any Thai girl would be in fear of meeting the great scientist. I found that he was very kind but very quiet. I, who knew nothing about NIR, felt very impressed by his warm smile. An unforgettable memory was when we went to a tempura restaurant in Tsukuba. The restaurant was very old and nothing that would appear to be fit to welcome “The Father of NIR spectroscopy” but yet he never complained. We signed the restaurant book together, and had a very good and tasty tempura dinner.

A few years later, the Japanese team established the Karl Norris (FANTEC) Award. We invited Karl to become the first winner. That year, we had Karl and Graeme Batten as our guests. Karl said he wanted to buy pearls for his wife, Maxine. He was unhappy with the choice in Tsukuba because they were not Japanese pearls. Later in the week, we went to the Mikimoto shop (the shop that makes Miss Universe’s tiara) and we found something that suited Karl. I will never forget the warm smile of Karl’s satisfaction.

On another occasion (I cannot remember which year it was); we were at the MacDonald’s near Mt. Tsukuba together with Sumio and his son. Sumio said “here we are, 4 generations of people”. For me, Karl is as sweet as any Grandpa could be. We had a great talk one day when he found out that I was a biologist. He told me that his greatest invention was actually being a major part of the discovery of Phytochrome.

I will not say I am sad or sorry that he is gone. I think he had lived his life. In his own time he was, and still is The Legend, and I would never become who I am now without his innovation.

Thank you, Karl! I know you are up there and smiling as always.


Mui Saranwong


Secretary of the ICNIRS