"My eyeball kept getting distorted more and more, so I became more and more nearsighted. At that time, if you had a detached retina due to the buildup of pressure on the eye you could go blind. So the eye doctor told my mother and father, 'Don't ever let this child fall down. Don't ever let this child play contact sports.' In the Bronx, you played stickball and baseball and basketball in the school yard. I wasn't allowed to do that and I became different than my friends. I was self conscious. I wanted to be like them but I was forced by health reasons to be different."
Unable to join his friends in their games, young Dan Goldin became more and more isolated. His father pushed the boy to excel academically, and he quickly moved several grade levels ahead of his peer group, but his emotional development could not keep pace, and he infuriated teachers and counselors by playing the clown and acting up in class.
When Goldin went to work for NASA after college, he found himself in his element at last. His creativity as a scientist and engineer quickly won him the respect of his peers. His self-confidence grew, and he came to appreciate the profound positive influence his father had exerted over him.
As Administrator of NASA, Daniel Goldin led the troubled space agency through a remarkable recovery, from the initial failure of the Hubble Space telescope, through the successful manned mission to repair the telescope, to subsequent triumphant unmanned missions to Mars and beyond. Today, he continues his scientific career in robotics research at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California.