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Paul C Lauterbur
Centre for Advanced Study professor of chemistry, bioengineering, biophysics and computational biology and distinguished university professor of medical information sciences at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and joint recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging


As I grew up, I found that I was interested in everything around me – music, art, the sky, animals, plants, everything. And I always wanted to do something about those interests – not just to read hunting and fishing stories, but to hunt and fish; to watch the sky and learn astronomy; to study natural history and to keep pets, from caterpillars to dogs to snakes and turtles and birds; to do chemical experiments; to read and do everything I could.

In short, the world was my inspiration to learn and to work. As the years went by, the opportunities changed, but the impulse remained the same. One thing led to another, fortune smiled, and everything is working out well. The first bit of luck was that parents, other relatives and teachers – even if they did not share my peculiar interests and attitudes – did not interfere strongly. So this is not a tale of inspiration and outside guidance, but of a predilection and good fortune.

The moral may be that even if you’re an odd kid, don’t despair. Just go ahead.

Paul Lauterbur is coauthor of Principles of Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Signal >Processing Perspective (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).