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Julien Clinton Sprott
professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

My father said that it was at a very young age that I carefully spread a hairpin apart and inserted it into an electrical socket. The resulting shower of sparks sparked my interest in electricity, and then ham radio at the age of 12.

Several years my senior was a ham radio friend whom I admired, very much and who convinced me that physics was the epitome of professions for those with interests such as mine. Sputnik 1 was launched while I was in high school, and the race to the moon was on. Suddenly, my interest in astronomy and space travel took on a new sense of reality and urgency.

Science and mathematics seemed to offer excitement and opportunities not shared by other subjects, like Latin and social studies. The physical sciences were in their heyday, and I rode that wave all the way to a PhD and beyond.

Julien Clinton Sprott is author of books including Chaos and Time-Series Analysis (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and Physics Demonstrations: A Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.