Would it be trite to say it was a sense of wonder, ignited by a delight in science fiction, that brought me to science? I don’t think so. I was brought up on the ABC of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C Clarke, with a touch of John Wyndham thrown in. I was too young for the Quatermass serials, but I thrilled to the TV series Doctor Who and Star Trek. From that fictional world I experienced, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to take up science.
Behind it all was my father, Leonard Clegg. He had gone straight from school to become a laboratory assistant, and worked his way up through industrial chemistry, going on to be a key player in inventing fabric conditioners. He never pushed me in the direction of science, but he inspired me. And he gave me an upbringing that didn’t despise science fiction, but put it alongside the classics as a different kind of literature – equal in value if different in style.
In the end, it all comes back to that once overused but now largely forgotten phrase ‘a sense of wonder’.
Brian Clegg is author of books including The God Effect: Quantum Entanglement, Science’s Strangest Phenomenon (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.