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Science talent redirected

"Is Science Talent Squandered?" (SN: 5/31/97, p. 338) sent me into a reverie of my precollege days. Having achieved, at 10 years of age, minor celebrity status in Nation's Business by inventing a "new" cotton picker, having burned holes in my parents' basement ceiling with my huge Gilbert chemistry set, and having been given a key to the high school lab to conduct my own experiments on weekends, I knew I would be a scientist.
Then came college and the public denigration (in an introductory chemistry class) of my poetic expression of the practical application of combustion. Literary and artistic teachers and friends enjoyed my "weird" presentation, so I joined their ranks instead, achieving modest adult recognition as a writer but still finding my real reading interest in science. If I had found a Carl Sagan some 40 years ago, I might be in a different college in my University today, but perhaps with different regrets.
F. Richard Thomas, Professor of American Thought and Language, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

[Science News, 26 July 1997, vol. 152]

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