Interpretative worlds.
Re-interpreting the World.

Friendship & International Collaboration: Marcel Pourbaix

I also have a friend with whom I collaborate internationally: Jesús Iglesias. We have known each other since school and if you are reading this article, it is thanks to his collaboration. He sent me an e-mail with document attached, an excerpt of his many readings, with the following message: “If you’re interested in it, to be published. I have made an excerpt which I entitled “Friendship & International Collaboration”.

Excerpt of Dr Luis Victori’s speech, in honor of Dr Macel Pourbaix, on 24th June 1981, at Unidad de Seminarios Ignacio Chávez, Mexico DC.

Marcel Pourbaix

Marcel Pourbaix

I was captivated by professor Pourbaix because of his clarity of exposition and his scientific rigour but, above all, I got impressed by his personality: his enthusiasm, his warmth, his friendliness… He is a person blessed with a big heart and the ability to harbour the noblest feelings.

To the question about what his favourite aspect of his work and what he considered the most important thing in his job, Professor Pourbaix answered quickly and undoubtedly:“my activities in the field of friendship and international collaboration”.

He also considered that “the most inportant thing in my life has been to instil in my children the love for the truth and faithfullness to their own counciousness”.

In my opinion, Professor Pourbaix’ life is the perfect combination between the idealist dreamer and the tireless worker who tries to make his dreams come true and who speculates, but who is also very aware of the problems in his world, problems that he tries to solve, too.

He started his way, full of obstacles, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1939: he was successively appointed substitute lecturer, work manager, conference responsible, lecturer and, finally, in 1968, when he was 64 years old, he was appointed professor of electrochemical corrosion. He had paid a high cost for his ideal of truth and his moral and intelectual independency.

The secret of his peculiarly characteristic friendship, may lie in that sentence he said to me once when I was at his home: “In my life, I try to be very demanding with myself and very understanding with the others.”

He is quite aware that his dedication to science often means taking time from his beloved ones.“I thank my wife Marcelle, who has always been my best friend and my best help. She often had to see that the wife of scientist is a widow whose husband is still alive.”

Professor Pourbaix is a tireless traveller. In Brussels, he has a map of the world on which he marks the points where he has given lectures and, above all, the places where he created bonds of deep friendship.“It is necessary to attend these meetings primarily thinking about what we can contribute with rather than what we can get.”

To me, these words are the echo of those old words which surprised the world when they were pronounced for the first time 2000 years ago: “A noble heart rejoices more at giving than receiving.”

From an excerpt of the foreword to the book “Lecciones de corrosión electroquímica” by Professor Marcel Pourbaix.

English version by Michael Thallium (@michaelthallium) from the original “La amistad y la colaboración internacional” in Spanish in collaboration with Jesús Iglesias (@cavaes)

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