My friend Jean-Claude Bradley was a dreamer. To lose him is a nightmare, a tragedy ….
When I received the sad news that JC had passed I went into the sad, dark place that losing family and friends sends me. And I went there fast. As we age we all need to face the challenge of increasing loss around us..it is inevitable. And in recent years it is with increasing frequency. In two weeks time I turn fifty years old and for sure I am more conscious of my time on this planet than ever. My priorities have shifted over the years to more balance between life and work, WAY more quality time with the people I love and especially to my twin boys (while they still want me around!) and yet I am still driven to leave my mark in my domain of science. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to glorious…but I would like it to be catalytic and, hopefully, important. And someone pointing at it with a “Tony was involved with that”…will make me happy. Likely for less than a generation…but nevertheless. We should all be pointing at JC and LISTING the “JC was involved with that…”. I believe it would make him happy.
JC Bradley did something important. He did something catalytic. Actually he did a lot that was important and catalytic. And even though he has gone he will not be forgotten by his peers, his collaborators and his followers for a long time. And I believe his legacy will survive and flourish. JC was, for me, and many others, the father of Open Notebook Science. Fortunately he is remembered in this way on Wikipedia as coining the term.
I first met JC as a PhD student while I was at Ottawa University. I used to run 2D NMR for him in the days when walk-up 2DNMR wasn’t available….300MHz XL-300 Varian instrument. The good old days. We used to spread out spectra on the floor of my apartment and assigned data. Many a long night. Even then it was clear JC was a character…an interesting character. Driven. Focused. Serious..about his science. With a laugh for all the right reasons.
I lost track of JC until he got to Drexel but since we reconnected we have spent many, many long hours on phone calls, worked on many projects together for the sake of Open Science, and I have sat and laughed and visited the many trials and tribulations of openness with JC and people including Cameron Neylon, Andy Lang and many others. JC was driven, he was humble, he was a doer. He challenged the status quo with the spirit of a change agent but without the arrogance and brutality of some in the world of openness in chemistry.
I am not going to belabor the contributions he has made to Open Science. Many others will do that in the next few days. I will do it in presentations and in my writings for sure. His legacy will live on. For now I am going to grieve the loss of an evangelist, a driven practitioner in the world of Open Science, a humble man and my friend.
He traveled the world of Second Life while here and wherever he is now, and I am making no judgments of peoples views of where that might be, I hope Horace Moody, the cat JC was in Second Life, is purring somewhere. In my head he is smiling, he is purring and he is proud. He should be. As Mays tells us….it is a calamity not to dream…and JC did….
“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.” -Benjamin E. Mays (American educator, Clergyman, 1895-1984)-