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75 Reasons to Become a Scientist

American Scientist celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary

The Editors


When I was young I was curious about the world, asked questions, and thought for myself. For example, in my first algebra course I realized that I had a better mathematical style than the teacher, but that I should still listen since she knew more mathematics than I did. It seems to me that I became a scientist because: (1) I had some talent and wanted to develop myself, (2) I was aggressively curious about the world and how it worked, (3) I asked pointed questions (including doing some experiments), (4) I thought for myself and did not believe all that I was told, and (5) I listened carefully to others and to reality. These seem to be the same traits that many scientists show. One crucial step in my progress was the clear realization that in the long run it is the quality and not the quantity of research that matters.

Richard W. Hamming
Professor of Computer Science
Naval Postgraduate School

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