A Brief History of Higgins
Oh My! “Do a page or so on Bill Higgins.” Ahrggg! I could say that he impresses me so much that I am speechless, and leave the rest of the page blank.
Not going to get off so easy, huh?
Seriously Bill Higgins is quite a find – and one of my favorite people. I’ve known him nearly 15 years now and he still keeps coming up with things to impress me with.
For one thing, he’s a working physicist, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He used to make neutrinos for a living. Now he tells protons where to go (brave fellow).
For another, he plays the ukulele. And not just Aloha Oe, but Beattles and CSN and Steve Goodman. (I have no doubt that one of these days it will be Gershwin and Mozart.) He’s perpetrated a lyric or two of his own as well.
He’s also a natty dresser. To go with the ukulele he’s got a pink and white striped ice cream jacket and a straw boater. (I told you he’s brave. But on him, it looks right.)
He has a charming and intelligent lady friend who plays the banjo. (It must be getting serious, I hear he’s thinking about changing operating systems.)
When he can find the time, he draws cartoons. He invented the bandersnatch cartoon. (How many bandersnatchi can you fit in a Volkswagen?) In order to find a place to publish the above cartoons, he helped resurrect and publish Pyrotechnics, a fanzine for techie types. (Ask him about it. He’ll send you a subscription.)
And when he’s not playing, singing, drawing, writing, or pushing protons around, he’s dancing. As most women will tell you, a man who likes to dance is a rare thing, a resource to be preserved and encouraged.
On the serious side, he’s active in the National Space Society, an organization that works to promote the exploration and exploitation of space. (That’s more than most of us can say.) Lately he’s become very active in the Space Groups on the Internet. He managed to get himself invited to the second test launch of the Delta Clipper – something the rest of us only glimpsed on CNN.
He has been a frequent panelist and speaker at science fiction conventions (like this one) on topics that range from air cars to Armageddon. I suspect he can deliver at least five minutes on just about any topic scholarly or otherwise. (Oh, ask him about Pololo worms. He has this great story to tell about them and the rest of us didn’t even know they existed.)
But the thing that amazes me most about him is how darn nice he is. He’ll find something nice to say about just about anybody. (And he means it.) As you would expect from this, he has a lot of friends. I suspect he could visit every state in the union and stay with friends in each one. (Ask him about the Pope some time. But that’s a different story.)
So do yourself a favor. Go up to him and introduce yourself. You’ll meet a new friend, an invaluable resource, and one hell of a nice guy. (Now if only he weren’t so allergic to cats…)
The illustration, by Phil Foglio, was used for a limited run of "Friends of Bill" T-shirts, made expressly for the occasion. It did not appear in the program book, which ran the bio with no picture.