Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Summer school
Top issues
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Parents and kids
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed

abc def ghi jkl mno pqrs tuv wxyz index
Survey home
First thoughts
Final thoughts
Survey responses
RSS feed
Michael Baum
Gustav Born
K Eric Drexler
Marcus du Sautoy
Harold Kroto
Paul Lauterbur
Leon Lederman
Bernard Lovell
Sophie Petit-Zeman
Ingo Potrykus
Jack Pridham
Simon Singh
Jack Steinberger
Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski
chair of the Scientific Council at the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, and former chair of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

There were probably innate factors (some of my relatives were scientists), and also memes (transferred via school, family and lecture) that inspired me to take up science. When the Second World War started, I was 12 years old. Germans closed all of the secondary schools and universities in Poland, and imposed a death penalty for continuation of education at that level. Therefore, between the ages of 14 and 17, I was mostly a self-taught and private clandestine student.

At that time, I learned several modern languages, Greek, Latin and a bit of Sanskrit. I read indiscriminately – literary classics, science, history, poetry, and international and Polish popular science literature. The latter was available in an excellent pre-war Polish series entitled ‘Library of Learning’, with such authors as Gilbert Beebe, WH Boulton, Paul de Kruif, James Jeans and James Kendall.

At that time, I became familiar with ancient and modern philosophy, but quickly discovered that it was not my vein. I was rather propelled by Rudyard Kipling’s 1898 poem ‘The Explorer’, in which a voice says: ‘Go and find it. Go and look behind the ranges.’ This filled a strong drive for practical activity, and for understanding the world by results of observation and experiment. Wishing to be useful, I found a niche in nuclear sciences – a mixture of medicine, biology, chemistry, physics and geophysics. Intellectual freedom was its great appeal.