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Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientistby John Brockman
Synopses & Reviews
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.
John Brockman, editor of many books, including The Next Fifty Years, is also the
Twenty-seven scientists write about their earliest inspirations and the childhood events that motivated them to become scientists.
What makes a child decide to become a scientist?
-For Robert Sapolsky-Stanford professor of biology-it was an argument with a rabbi over apassage in the Bible.
-Physicist Lee Smolin traces his inspiration to a volume of Einstein's work, picked up as a diversion from heartbreak.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, apsychologist and the author of Flow, found his calling through Descartes.
Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Humphrey, Freeman Dyson . . . 27 scientists in all write about what it was thatsent them on the path to their life's work. Illuminating memoir meets superb science writing in stories that invite us to consider what it is-and what it isn't-that sets the scientific mindapart.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments — Introduction — Family affair / Nicholas Humphrey — Bungling apprentice / David M. Buss — Mountain gorilla and yeshiva boy / Robert M. Sapolsky — Safety in numbers / Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi — My father and Albert Einstein / Murray Gell-Mann — Midcentury modern education / Alison Gopnik — Cosmology calls / Paul C.W. Davies — Member of the club / Freeman J. Dyson — Strange beautiful girl in a car / Lee Smolin — How we may have become what we are / Steven Pinker — Patterns and the participant observer / Mary Catherine Bateson — Mixing it up /Lynn Margulis — Childhood between realities / Jaron Lanier — Dolittle and Darwin / Richard Dawkins — One way of making a social scientist / Howard Gardner — Brains through the back door / Joseph Ledoux — Objects of our lives / Sherry Turkle — Intellectual promiscuity / Marc D. Hauser — Tom Swift Jr. and the power of ideas / Ray Kurzweil — Day in the life of a child / Janna Levin — Toward the worm / Rodney Brooks — Everyday practice of physics in Silver City, New Mexico — Math of the real world / Steven Strogatz — At large in the mountains / Tim White — Making of a scientist / V.S. Ramachandran — What I want to be when I grow up / Daniel C. Dennett — Gift of solitude / Judith Rich Harris.
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