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Hirohito: The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist

The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist Neil W. Isaacs R.D. Haun, Jr. Benoit Mandelbrot and Karl Knop Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. Japan's Emperor Hirohito, who died in Tokyo early last month at the age of 87, was a dedicated scientist who devoted much of his life to the study and support of marine biology. According to a 1987 interview with Grand Chamberlain Yoshihiro Tokugawa, who served the emperor for 50 years at the Imperial Palace, Hirohito's affinity for the bio

February 6, 1989

  • The Late Japanese Emperor Was A Dedicated Marine Biologist
  • Neil W. Isaacs
  • R.D. Haun, Jr.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot and Karl Knop
  • Edgar S. Woolard, Jr.
  • Japan's Emperor Hirohito, who died in Tokyo early last month at the age of 87, was a dedicated scientist who devoted much of his life to the study and support of marine biology.

    According to a 1987 interview with Grand Chamberlain Yoshihiro Tokugawa, who served the emperor for 50 years at the Imperial Palace, Hirohito's affinity for the biological began in the sixth grade when he saw his first collection of marine specimens. In the interview, published in the journal Oceanus [30(1), pages 86-90], Tokugawa said that this youthful interest marked for Hirohito the beginning of a lifetime of scientific investigations and contributions to the field of marine biology. He attended Gakushuin (then Peers School) and was tutored by the Special Institute established for the Crown Prince's education.

    After his father's death, Hirohito was enthroned as Japan's 124th emperor in November 1928. The new emperor often collected specimens of the flora and fauna in and around Sagami Bay, site of an imperial vacation villa. He built his own marine laboratory near a mulberry garden on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, employing two marine biologists and a specialist in flora to aid in the classification work. Hirohito worked in this laboratory until recently. Over the years, more than 28,000 specimens of marine life were sent to him from all over the world for classification purposes.

    In 1975, Emperor Hirohito visited Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass. According to the Oceanus article, he talked with scientists there about a topic of marine biology that particularly interested him - marine hydrozoans. Some 40 species of the primitive animals are common in the Woods Hole area.

    Two of the emperor's sons have pursued scientific interests. The new Emperor Akihito, the eldest son, is a marine biologist specializing in the study of gobies. He has published numerous papers and entries in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology and Fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. In 1985, he was named Honorary President of the Second International Conference on Indo-Pacific Fishes. Prince Hitachi, a younger son, is engaged in cancer research in Tokyo's National Cancer Center.

    Australian chemist Neil W. Isaacs has accepted an appointment to the Joseph Black Chair of Protein Crystallography in the University of Glasgow's Chemistry Department. To take the post in Scotland, Isaacs left his job as National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow at St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, which he had held for the past 10 years. Among Isaacs' interests are an antibacterial enzyme from the egg white of the black swan; human blood platelet proteins; and chorionic gonadotrophin, the hormone required for the early maintenance of pregnancy.

    R.D. Haun, Jr. has been named chief scientist at Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s Research and Development Center in Churchill, Pa. Previously deputy chief scientist, Haun is a physicist whose major research has been in atomic frequency standards, solid-state microwave materials and devices, and laser physics. As chief scientist he will guide efforts to develop technologies and skills of value to Westinghouse and oversee relations with the world scientific community.

    The newly created Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Science for Art prize was awarded in Paris to IBM fellow Benoit Mandelbrot and Karl Knop of the RCA Laboratories in Zurich. The LVMH distinctions - certificates and checks of 100,000 francs ($16,000) - arise from the firm's biotechnology and consumer products. Mandelbrot was honored for his work in fractal geometry; Knop was rewarded for his original derivation of colored images from surface-relief structures.

    The Du Pont Co. recently named Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. as its next chairman and chief executive. Currently president and chief operating officer, Woolard will succeed Richard E. Heckert when Heckert retires after the company's annual meeting in April. The company has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for top executives.


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