47. "Congratulations with your title, dr. Weisenborn." "Thank you, dr. Weisenborn."

Posted on Facebook on 10 February 2018.

In all likeliness the above sentences will be exchanged between father and son in Colchester, Essex, UK on Tuesday 6 March, after Hildebrand J. Weisenborn will have successfully defended his doctoral thesis in computer science before a committee including his mentor, professor Martin Reid of Essex University. Unfortunately the defense will take place behind closed doors, so we cannot admire our son in action.

I feel very proud that my son bestows this great honor on me: earning a PhD in an exact science just like his dad has done. It has happened before in our Weisenborn family (between doctors, though not in exact science): on Thursday 15 November 1860, 6 pm, country surgeon Anton Weisenborn - my ancestor from whom I got my name - congratulated his son Gerardus - also my ancestor - on passing his exam for country surgeon, and again around 1890, when Gerardus congratulated his son Johannes - my great-grandpa's brother - on becoming a regular medical doctor.

It struck me when I was 13 and had started tracing my ancestors that good fortune and position in society vary with time, sometimes within a single life span, but almost always within a few generations. My ancestors weren't all doctors or learned men. My earliest known ancestor was a shepherd, his son a horseman, then a musician, then comes Anton the surgeon, then Gerardus the surgeon, then an architect, a traveling salesman turning civil servant and my father a garage keeper. And now father and son who have both made some name in science. Yes, I feel very proud, and not only for my son: my daughter has followed in my dad's footsteps and is a qualified car mechanic, as well as photo model, photographer and product specialist & sales person with Tesla electric cars.

The picture shows the cover of my doctoral thesis which I defended in Leyden, the Netherlands on 20 November 1985.