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What do you think of when you hear “scientist”?

When I hear “scientist” I think of 6 people who shook up my ideas of the world within and around me. Scientists who changed my way of thinking are:

  • Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  • Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
  • Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
  • Barbara McClintock (1902-1992)
  • Jane Goodall (1934- )
  • Oliver Sacks (1933- )
Albert Einstein created a revolution in physics with his ideas about relativity. So many things are relative and Einstein’s popularized theory made this understandable for me. He was a physicist and author, a favorite is his “My Philosophy”.
Rachel Carson invited the natural environment into the family as an integrated part of our home, part of ourselves. She was a conservationist and an author, I loved her “Silent Spring”. Her views helped me love the rain, streams, rivers and ponds in a new way that saw them full of life.
Barbara McClintock showed us genes could jump, which frees us from the linear bonds of inheritance. She was a geneticist and cytologist whose experiments cracked open not just cells and chromosomes, but my ideas of what a gene was or could be. She was also my mentor in graduate school, a teacher very much loved.

Carl Sagan fascinated the public with “The Dragons of Eden” and invited the whole cosmos into our lives with “Cosmos”.  He was not only a media personality but a great astronomer who could make the stars seem real, and dreams, possible.
Jane Goodall added the intelligent chimpanzee to the extended family with gentle perseverance. She is relentless in her work as a biologist and activist, to bring the natural world into our hearts and into our plans for a sustainable future. Her “Harvest for Hope” is a marvelous book and changed the way I thought about eating, food, and my place in the life cycle.

Oliver Sacks weaves stories with the fascinating inner workings of the brain. I love his tales that bring mysteries of neurology to life, beautifully performed in film in “Awakenings” and now “The Music Never Stopped”.

What do you think of when you hear “scientist”?