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Brian Charlesworth
Royal Society research professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology

I was inspired to take up science by three things that occurred early in life.

  1. An apparently innate love of animals and natural history, leading to a wish to understand as much about the living world as I could.
  2. An account of gravitation by a teacher at infant school, who was standing in for another teacher and was simply passing the time. The idea that you could make sense of the world in such a way was a revelation.
  3. A similar experience a little later on – another substitute teacher, drawing a picture of an amoeba on the board. This was my first acquaintance with the microscopic living world, and again was a revelation.

I started to read a lot of elementary science books, and I developed an obsessive interest in biology, although I have always found physics and astronomy fascinating as well. I was exhilarated by the idea that you can understand what you see around you in terms of things that cannot be observed directly, but which explain what you can see. I also found the concept that everything runs according to natural laws, and that there is no need for anything supernatural, to be deeply attractive.

Brian Charlesworth is author of Evolution in Age-Structured Populations (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and coauthor of Evolution: A Very Short Introduction (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).