Sputnik, Slime Molds, and Botticelli in the Making of a Physician-Scientist
Establishing a clear chain of cause and effect in any person’s life is an inherently uncertain business, but I can say with some confidence that my career as a physician-scientist had its origins on my ninth birthday on October 4, 1957, when Sputnik (Fig. 7.1) was launched into orbit by the Soviet Union. I recall noting the event itself with some fascination, but it was the response of our public education system to the “missile gap”  perceived by US policy-makers that really had a formative effect, because, for the next few years at least, my classrooms became filled with a wondrous array of materials for learning science. More important still, and in contrast to the American cultural milieu of more recent decades, being good at science in the 1950s and 1960s was perceived by me and many of my contemporaries as a pretty cool thing to do.