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Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and Author

Oliver Sacks: I saw it soon after I had come back from this chaotic and really awful period in the country. And the periodic table, with its arrangement of all the elements in a sort of beautiful vertical and horizontal way, seemed to me a wonderful -- I mean, although I knew the periodic table was a human invention, I thought, "This is the way the elements organize themselves. This is the way God thinks. This is a cosmic order." And the beauty of the table and the sense of it affected my greatly. It corresponded with everything in chemistry. Of course one didn't know why the elements should have the characters they did or why they should be related. Mendeleyev, who made the table, didn't know, but was sure that things would be confirmed later, as of course they were. But the periodic table stands for me for, as it were, the beauty of scientific truth and scientific construction, and also the beauty of the natural world and the way in which simplicity and number at least seem to command the physical world.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

Jonas Salk: As a child I was not interested in science. I was merely interested in things human, the human side of nature, if you like, and I continue to be interested in that. That's what motivates me. And, in a way it's the human dimension that has intrigued me.
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Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, Innocence Project

Barry Scheck: After I left Berkeley, I worked for awhile for the United Farm Workers union. And then I took the New York and California bar at the same time, which was a little hard then. And then eventually, after I went back, I worked as a public defender in the South Bronx for the Legal Aid Society for two-and-a-half years, before I sort of accidentally wound up as a law professor. That was a great job. That really was the right place to be for somebody like me, and it was a natural extension of what during this period of time there's a whole group of us in this era that were motivated by the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement. If you became a lawyer, what were you going to do? One logical place was defending poor people as a public defender. And it turned out that they sent all the people that they thought had this kind of political motivation to the Bronx. So we were all there when the Bronx was really -- the Carter Administration designated -- like the most bereft urban neighborhood in the United States. It was a time that they made that movie Fort Apache, and unfortunately many of the neighborhoods looked just like that.
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