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A fascinating collection of essays from twenty-seven of the world’s most interesting scientists about the moments and events in their childhoods that set them on the paths that would define their lives.
What makes a child decide to become a scientist?
• For Robert Sapolsky—Stanford professor of biology—it was an argument with a rabbi over a passage in the Bible.
• Physicist Lee Smolin traces his inspiration to the volume of Einstein’s work he picked up as a diversion from heartbreak.
• Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and the author of Flow, found his calling through Descartes.
• Mary Catherine Bateson—author of Composing a Life—discovered that she wanted to be an anthropologist while studying Hebrew.
• Janna Levin—author of How the Universe Got Its Spots—felt impelled by the work of Carl Sagan to know more.
Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Humphrey, Freeman Dyson, Daniel C. Dennett, Lynn Margulis, V. S. Ramachandran, Howard Gardner, Richard Dawkins, and more than a dozen others tell their own entertaining and often inspiring stories of the deciding moment. Illuminating memoir meets superb science writing in essays that invite us to consider what it is—and isn’t—that sets the scientific mind apart and into action.
“In this superlative collection . . . scientists—who also happen to be splendid writers—discuss what first attracted them to careers in science. . . . Inspiring.” —Sci Fi Magazine
“Revealing accounts and entertaining reading.” —Science News
“Compelling . . . rather than revealing a secret formula that produces an adult scientist, this collection proves just how disparate are the ingredients. . . . Idiosyncrasies are, in the end, what gives the collection its kick.” —Discover
“Forget algebra camp—a scientist’s life can also begin with Gilligan’s Island or the James Bond movie Thunderball. . . . Entertaining stories.” —Popular Science
“[An] engrossing treat of a book . . . crammed with hugely enjoyable anecdotes.” —New Scientist