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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2012 > Article Detail

ESSAY

100 Reasons to Become a Scientist or Engineer

On our 75th anniversary, we collected 75 reasons. Now we've added 25 more

The Editors

82
Geoff Marcy

When I was 14 years old, my parents bought me a used telescope, with a rickety tripod and a mirror only 10 centimeters across. I pointed it at Saturn, and was stunned to see its rings clearly. Coming back the next night, I noticed Saturn had moved relative to the background stars, except for one fairly bright “star” which hugged close to Saturn. Over many nights, that bright “star” moved around Saturn, until after 16 nights it came back to its starting point. Seeing with my own eyes the moon Titan orbit around that Saturnian jewelry every 16 days, celestial clockwork with gears of gravity, left me speechless. I wondered what other astronomical objects of art were out there. I also wondered if the laws of nature on Earth explained them all. When I realized that the Solar System was a speck of dust on the scale of the Milky Way Galaxy, and that the Milky Way was a speck of dust in the universe, I was utterly hooked. Then, seeing with my naked eye the Andromeda Galaxy with its 200 billion stars located over a million light years away, I was mesmerized by the beauty and sheer size of the cosmos. I knew that I wanted to learn everything I could about our universe.

Geoff Marcy

Professor of Astronomy

University of California, Berkeley








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