The Missing Graduate
I visited my Mom a few days ago, and on our way out she was piling up little presents for me. Here's a bag of freebie Estee Lauder products, she said. Here are some articles I cut out of the paper for you. Here are some books I thought you would enjoy.
One of the books was a thesis. She found it at a used book sale. There were 8 copies, she said. It was from Seoul University, with the signature page in Korean, but written in English, on a topic pretty similar to my field. So, I could have read it and understood it.
The thing is, most people don't print more than about 8 copies of their thesis. So that was probably the whole set. It was recent, something like 2002. And even my mother knew it was potentially the saddest thing possible that they were all sitting there for sale for $1 each.
Anyway this got me wondering what happened to this poor person (for some reason I think it was a guy, with my limited knowledge of Korean names). Is he dead? Did he quit science? Did they revoke his degree for faking data? Why on earth would so many copies of his thesis be given to a community booksale?
I could have taken it with me, and I did consider it. I felt I could do a good deed by reading it. But I just didn't have enough room in my suitcase.