From the book
Not expecting that it would be for long, I stayed there many, many years. For sure, Delft had impressive laboratories and even more impressive lecture halls for the advancement of the technical sciences, but that’s not a reason to linger on. When I came there, it felt as if I was thrown in a tank with ice-cold water. Language – flowery language in particular – was forbidden, the motto being: measure and count. But isn’t it true that one will only get a good crystal if its melt has been cooled quite slowly, so that all atoms have ample time to find their orderly place? So, a human being has to grow slowly from his constituents, to give him a harmonious life without stress. When cooled too quickly, he will have stacking faults, brittleness and instability. So, I had become an instable glassy thrombus instead of a stable crystalline Cees.
True, it had been my own decision to follow in the footsteps of my father, but the prize of living between number crunchers wasn’t foreseen. After the first year, in which I still followed courses and properly did exams in physics and mathematics, I became depressed. Had it really been my own decision?
Why did I go so often to the piano in the attic of the Student Society, of which I had become member because of its cheap meals? Why didn’t I answer Fokke, an older student I knew who was supervising a written test and saw me staring out of the window – pencil down. And why did I detest cooking distilled water in an electrically heated Pyrex-tube, using a semiconductor in a Wheatstone bridge for the measurement of its temperature?