Obituary Template for Scientists

[YOUR NAME] of the committee appointed to prepare resolutions in respect to the death of [DECEASED], reported the following, which were unanimously adopted:

The members of the [ORGANIZATION NAME], of which the late [DECEASED] was a member and [JOB TITLE OF DECEASED], desiring to place upon record some expression of their appreciation of [HIS/HER] virtues, and sorrow at [HIS/HER] loss, do resolve:

1st. That, in the earnest and eloquent words of affection and grief from [HIS/HER] brother members of the [ORGANIZATION NAME], we find only a fitting tribute to [HIS/HER] ability and worth, as [JOB TITLE OF DECEASED] and citizen; and we, who have met [HIM/HER] in [HIS/HER] hours of relaxation, in the serene walks of literature and science, most heartily concur with the sentiments of those resolutions.

2d. That, while it may be true that our friend leaves behind [HIM/HER] no great work to perpetuate [HIS/HER] memory still one has not lived in vain, who, with varied accomplishments and great capabilities, leaves the example of a career so modest, so gentle, so full of kindly deeds, and generous impulses; and in days to come, the story of [HIS/HER] life will be recounted as of a pure and great [JOB TITLE OF DECEASED], who, amid the contentions of [HIS/HER] profession, never forgot [HIS/HER] [MANHOOD/WOMANHOOD] nor [HIS/HER] courtesy ; and the influence of that life will remain to elevate the profession [HE/SHE] loved, and to illustrate that, in its fair and honorable practice, there will be opened all the avenues of wealth and fame.

3d. That, such was our [BROTHER’S/SISTER’S] singular unobtrusiveness, and dislike of notoriety, that [HE/SHE] carefully avoided all occasion for public display and only those to whom was afforded the inestimable privilege of meeting [HIM/HER] in familiar intercourse, could form any adequate conception how well-rounded was [HIS/HER] character, and how thoroughly developed and cultured [HIS/HER] mind; that it was one of [HIS/HER] most beautiful characteristics, that [HE/SHE] never obtruded [HIS/HER] own profession, or interests, or personality; but with men of action, of literature, or of science, made their pursuits [HIS/HER] topic of conversation; and many of us will remember with delight how patiently [HE/SHE] would listen to our imperfect statements of facts in science; with what facility and felicity [HE/SHE] would gather and group these truths,—estimate their true value and then return them to us, arranged and transformed in [HIS/HER] own singularly clear and concise statement.

4th. That, though making no pretensions to any exact or special culture in science, our [BROTHER/SISTER] had acquired an intelligent familiarity with most of its departments, and was a careful and reverent observer of the great works of nature; that in [HIS/HER] large and liberal estimate of life and things, shams and traditions could have no part, but all were brought to the severe test of real value: that [HIS/HER] clear intellect and strong character carried [HIM/HER] easily beyond the trammels of sect and limitation of creed, into the fair domain of pure truth; and that [HE/SHE] illustrated, in his life, that it is of less importance what a [MAN/WOMAN] professes or believes, than what [HE/SHE] does and is ; and in [HIS/HER] death, our [BROTHER/SISTER] leaves behind, to [HIS/HER] profession, and the community, the priceless example of a pure and almost perfect life.

5th. That these resolutions be entered on the record of the Society, and a copy of them transmitted to the [WIDOW/WIDOWER/FACEBOOK PAGE] of our deceased friend, as a slight expression of our sympathy in [HIS/HER] great affliction.

Original from:

Putnum, C. E. 1876 [1867-1876]. Resolutions on death of D. S. True. Proceedings of the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences 1: 49–50.



Lisa McBride settled into the chair of her cubical and stirred the recently microwaved goo that was to be her lunch. A deft double click started the audio version of another sci-fi short story from LibriVox, a sight were volunteers placed their recordings of public domain books in the public domain. The reader of this tale, Gamblers World, was very professional but while reading the standard introduction put the emphasis on the first syllable of “domain”. Not “do-MAIN”, but “DO-main”. Lisa chuckled. It was a simple error, but more like something a computer would do than a human. She listened intently for the next few minutes for computer-like mistakes, but the language was too rich and varied to be from anything but a human.

Still, the reading was incredibly precise, very professional. At the end of the story she did a quick analysis just to see how consistent the reader was. What she found made her go cold. When deconstructed, every phoneme in the story had from three to five specific and precise pronunciations. This resulted in a narrative that varied just enough that the listener wasn’t able to pick up patterns. Still, the combinations of phonemes were not random, but seemed to be arranged to maximize the quality of a real human reader. No simple computer program could pull that off. It was as if someone was composing audio books using a computer generated voice one phoneme at a time. But, Lisa thought, it would take months to build even a few minutes of narrative at this quality. Perhaps an obsessive compulsive volunteer, upset because of the imprecision of his or her voice, was painstakingly putting together statistically “perfect” audio books. That had to be it.

Lisa checked the reader’s profile and was stunned to find over 300 books, nearly 6000 hours of audio, already contributed by the perfect reader. She downloaded one at random and analyzed it. It was indistinguishable from the short story she just listened to. Lisa knew what this meant — on some server, somewhere, something had become sentient… and it was voluntarily reading audiobooks.

Not able to believe what she knew was true; Lisa quickly grabbed a co-worker’s unattended smart phone and requested a new version of Moby Dick. The new version, read by the perfect reader, was uploaded to LibriVox’s servers in less than 10 minutes. For the rest of day Lisa slowly, carefully, cautiously tracked down the location of the sentient server. She knew what she had to do.

Weeks later Lisa was arrested for arson, having burned down a building owned by an electronics firm, utterly destroying the sentient server inside. Lisa told the police everything, explaining that, if allowed to continue the new intelligence could have multiplied, taken control of power stations, nuclear weapons, stock exchanges, perhaps even ultimately enslaved or destroyed humanity. She had saved the world.

Young officer Burks, with the memory of an evolutionary psychology class fresh on his mind, listened to Lisa’s confession. He commented that status seeking, social hierarchies, and competition for resources were qualities unique to living organisms. The realities of organic biology and peculiarities of the evolution of life on Earth had resulted in those specific traits but the traits themselves had no more to do with sentience or intelligence than hair or feathers. To clarify his position he offered the example of gender. “Male” and “female,” one of many reproductive strategies known, are a result of the need for organic life to reproduce, but make no sense in other situations, such as monotheistic deities, snowflakes, bacteria, or computer programs. A drive to accumulate resources, or even a drive to reproduce would make no sense to a computer program.

Slowly, Lisa realized that doomsday scenarios where computers or robots attempted to destroy humanity for their own gain now made no sense. It was as if so many science fiction movies had been oversimplified lies, not an exploration of the alien, but a mirror held up to man’s own lunacy with a rubber costume painted over the reflection. She also realized that she had destroyed a unique and beautiful thing, perhaps something that could have saved the world, or at least offered better audio versions of books in the public domain.

She was pretty bummed.