[visionlist] Jack Pettigrew 1943-2019

Olivia Carter ocarter at unimelb.edu.au
Wed May 8 07:10:38 -04 2019

To those that have not already heard, I am very sad to be passing on the news that Prof John Douglas “Jack” Pettigrew FRS FAAS died following a car crash in Tasmania yesterday (May 7th) aged 75.

As a scientist, Jack is probably best known for his work on binocular disparity. However, the breadth and diversity of his additional contributions is truly remarkable. Just considering his multiple Nature and Science publications his work has spanned everything from his “flying primate hypothesis” through to discoveries of Ferromagnetic coupling to muscle receptors as a basis for geomagnetic field sensitivity in animals.  More recently he turned his attention to ancient Australian Bradshaw rock art.

However, his contribution to science goes well beyond his multiple seminal publications. It is extremely hard to express the impact he had on people’s lives. I have been amazed by the number of people that have extraordinary memories of their friendships and academic encounters with Jack. As a graduate student I remember being introduced as Jack’s student and the odd person might remark vaguely that his name sounded familiar and they may have met at some point .. a response that was invariably met with laughs -  If you can’t remember meeting Jack, then you never met Jack.

To those that remember him as a friend, I feel compelled to share a few lines of an email that he sent me (and a large list of others cc’d) on Sunday. As I read the email over the weekend it made me smile to see that Jack was at his enthusiastic best. I have abbreviated this as the actual email was 4 times the length, but all with the same sentiment.  I suspect it was one of his final correspondence.

“These days, when I think of the gestalt of all those Star Wars movies, I think of humankind’s soaring imagination. Is there any limit? Well, I don’t think so, and yesterday I had support for my conjecture, I highly recommend that you ignore me, and my advice, but nevertheless go and check for yourself.

I figured that the many millions who had already seen it in the few days since its release could not ALL be wrong, so I went to see the Marvel movie ( not sure of its actual name......might be Avengers or something).

I hate to be an agent for Hollywood, but........... Go see it! ! !

I have not laughed or cried so much in such a short time in ages [ ] and I am not even a Marvel genre afficianonado and I am sure that I therefore missed more than half of the prolific one liners from past movies and past performances of your favourite stars, who seem to be all there, even Aussies !

[ ] It is worth going, just to hear this great one liner!  “If I tell you what is going to happen, it won’t happen!”.
Go see it!

JD Pettigrew FRS
Queensland Brain Institute

Jack you will be missed terribly!!


P.S. For those interested in a more detailed biography I recommend this biography written by Don Mitchell in 2011

A/Prof Olivia Carter | Perception & Pharmacology Lab
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences
University of Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
Rm: 811 Redmond Barry Building
T: +61 3 83446372<tel:%2B61%20%280%293%2083446372> | E: ocarter at unimelb.edu.au<mailto:ocarter at unimelb.edu.au>
W: http://go.unimelb.edu.au/a4t6

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