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Sir Edmund Hillary

Conqueror of Mt. Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary: Well there were lots of challenges. Even the route we were climbing Mt. Everest was one of the two easiest routes on the mountain as we know now. Of course, nobody had climbed it then. But even so, there are demanding parts of it. At the bottom of the mountain, there's the ice fall, where it's a great tumbled ruin of ice that's all pouring down and filled with crevasses and ice walls. It's under slow but constant movement. It's a dangerous place because things are always tumbling down. So you have to establish a route up through that which you can get with reasonable safety. But over the years, literally dozens of people have died in the crevasses. They've been engulfed by ice walls falling down and things of that nature. I had one experience on the ice fall with Tenzing. We were actually descending after having been further up the mountain and it was getting close towards dark so we wanted to get through the ice fall before darkness fell. We were roped together, but I was rushing down ahead in the lead. About half-way down there was a narrow crevasse, I guess it was about four feet wide, but just a bit too wide to step across. On the lower lip was a great chunk of ice stuck against the ice wall, and we'd used that as sort of a stepping stone to get over the gap. I came rushing down the hill without thinking too carefully, I just leapt in the air and landed on the chunk of ice, whereupon the chunk of ice broke off and dropped into the crevasse with me on top of it. It was interesting how everything seemed to start going slowly, even though I was free-falling into the crevasse. My mind, obviously, was working very quickly indeed. The great chunk of ice started tipping over and I realized, if I wasn't careful, I'd be crushed between the ice and the wall of the crevasse. So I just sort of bent my knees and leapt in the air. I was still falling, but now I was a couple of feet clear of the chunk of ice. Time really seemed to pass even though I was falling clear and I realized that unless the rope came tight fairly soon, I would come to a rather sticky end on the bottom of the crevasse. Up top, Tenzing had acted very quickly. He had thrust his ice axe into the snow, whipped the rope around it, and the rope came tight with a twang and I was stopped and swung in against the ice wall. The great chunk of ice just carried on and smashed to smithereens at the bottom of the crevasse. Then really the rest was what I would have called a routine mountaineering matter. I had my ice axe and my crampons on my feet, so I chipped steps in the side, I was able to bridge the crevasse, and I worked my way up to the top and got safely out. I wouldn't have said at any stage, because it all happened so quickly, fear really didn't have much opportunity to emerge. My only idea was to get safely out of this unfortunate predicament. And of course, without Tenzing's very competent mountaineer's response, I certainly wouldn't have made it. But once he had stopped me, then I was able to, using the techniques of mountaineering, to get myself safely to the top, again. When you've been going as long as I have, many of them have happened during the course of your life, but you tend to forget them, really. I think nature tricks us a little bit because you tend to remember the good moments rather than the uncomfortable ones. So when you leave the mountain, you remember the great moments on the mountain, and as soon as you leave the mountain, you want to go back again.
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Sir Edmund Hillary

Conqueror of Mt. Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary: I still regard adventure pretty much as a hobby to tell you the honest truth, and I think this approach to it keeps one refreshed almost. I think if you just regard adventure as a business, working becomes very boring as many other businesses can become. But even though adventure changed my life considerably, both in what I was doing and even economically, I've always regarded myself in a sense as a competent amateur. Because of that, I think a freshness has been brought to it, that every new adventure has been a new experience and great fun. I really like to enjoy my adventures. I get frightened to death on many, many occasions but, of course, fear can be, also, a stimulating factor. When you're afraid, the blood surges in the veins and so on. If you get rigid with fear, quite obviously, fear is not a very satisfactory characteristic to have, but if it's a stimulating factor, then I think you can often extend yourself far more than you really believe is possible. And instead of being just a mediocre person, for a moment anyway, you become someone of considerable competence.
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

I've gotten a lot of recognition, especially by Time magazine. I've never said that I am the representative for the AIDS community. It was Time that, in trying to recognize the achievements in the field, they typically do it through the story of one and I was the chosen one. I fully realize that it's symbolic for the progress made by the field. And, a lot of people deal with that very well and many colleagues have said very nice things to me about that and about how good that is for the field and for science in general. But, there are a lot of big egos in the field and if they're not the one, some of them can be vicious and have been vicious. But, I don't think you would find much in terms of a response from me about such type of criticism. I've said that I'm just going to continue to work and to do my science and advance the field. I don't want to be dragged into the mud into such an unnecessary debate which is harmful to the field, to science, and most importantly, what does that look like from a patient's perspective?
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

If you insist on the infeasible, you'll get into a situation where nothing is done. And, the most important thing we could do now is to come up with strategies that would decrease mother-to-infant transmission of HIV. So I got involved with that controversy because the New England Journal took a very strong ethical position against any use of placebo and basically did not welcome my opposing view and I had to express my view in Time Magazine. And they didn't care for that, and therefore because of this disagreement, I said I had to go with my own beliefs and I don't think I could serve the Journal well by remaining on its editorial board.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

These issues of contempt, of rivalry between the ethnicities, for instance, between the Pashtuns and Hazaras, this goes back centuries, and it has very bigger old roots and wounds that have not healed. And this book talks about those things in a very unveiled, open fashion. And for a lot of people, that was a jolt. Things were being said in this book that it would be unimaginable that it would be said publicly within the Afghan community. Lots of people would think it and maybe discuss it privately in their home, but would never blog it, they would never write in the newspaper an op ed or let alone write a book. And so it became -- I understand why it's a subject of controversy, but I feel as a writer that writers, artists, cannot shy away from things merely because it makes people uncomfortable. I don't feel that that's a good reason to not write something. In fact, that's a very good reason to write about things. If things make, if a subject matter makes people uncomfortable, if it touches on those things that people fear, if it touches on those things that are sensitive, then maybe that is what is worth writing about. I don't think we, as writers, shy away from things that are wreathed in reality and shape a society and not write them out of mere politeness. And so in whatever modest way, I hope that The Kite Runner has opened a useful and productive dialog within my community. And I think, to some extent, it really has.
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