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astronomer at the Paris Observatory and at the Institute of Astrophysics

Intense curiosity inspired me to take up science. I wanted to know everything, and nobody could answer all the questions that I had to ask. Or if they could answer my questions, I didn’t believe them.

But I just didn’t want answers – I wanted to understand for myself why things were the way they were. When I was informed at a tender age that the world was really round, and not flat as I was certain it was, I wanted to know why. There seemed to be many questions like that, but I was prepared to put in the time to find out the answers if I could. I realised that I would be ‘at school’ for the indefinite future.

There was also a profound sense of wonder, when I realised just how large the universe really was – how far apart the stars were, and how ancient the light in the night sky was. A sense of wonder was mixed with incomprehension – I was a child who still had many things to learn, and not only about galaxies. If the Earth we lived on was so small, and the universe so appallingly large, then why were there not more people studying astronomy?