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'A bit of a feeling against Israel'


My cousin: Robert J Aumann
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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On the maternal side I have a cousin I greatly admire and adore really in... in Israel, Robert John Aumann, who is a mathematician and mathematical economist, and got a Nobel in, I think it was 2005... yes, it was. But he often comes to New York... he knows how to live; I just got postcards from Switzerland and Bulgaria, and he travels all over the world, still extremely active at 80 plus, always accompanied by... by up to 17 grandchildren and, since he’s very Orthodox, a Kosher cook. And this must have been a strange sight in the Himalayas a few years ago to see an old man wearing a... with a white beard wearing a yarmulke, followed by 16 youths and maidens and a man carrying pots and pans at the end, all at 20,000 feet. So that’s Robert John.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Bulgaria, Switzerland, Himalayas, Robert J Aumann

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012