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Gary Becker

Nobel Prize in Economics

Gary Becker: What we call human capital, that is, investments in people's education and training. I started working on that as soon as I came to Columbia in 1957. A small project, estimating how much, say, earnings that people could get from improving their education, by going to college rather than high school, for example. How much more they earned, what happened to their occupations, their unemployment, all the aspects of their economic situation. And starting doing that, I saw this was a much bigger problem than I had anticipated, and a much more challenging issue to look at more generally, the issue of investments in people, in knowledge, and in skills and in training. So I sat down to try to look at that in a very general way, both theoretically and then to also make these variety of calculations for the United States and a little bit for other countries. And I wrote a book called Human Capital that was published in 1964 on that subject. And some people will say that's the most important book I've written. I don't know if that's true. It certainly, maybe in some sense, has been the most influential thing I've done.
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Gary Becker

Nobel Prize in Economics

I was rushing down to Columbia, driving down to give an oral exam to a Ph.D. student. I had to park, and I had to decide whether to park illegally on the street around the Columbia neighborhood, or put it in a parking lot which was further away and of course cost some money. And I said, "Well, what's the chance I'll get a ticket?" And I made a calculation in my head and I left it on the street. And as I walked over to the exam, I said, "But if I'm going through that calculation, then the police must also be deciding how often they should inspect in order to determine what's the right thing for them to do, which is costly." So I asked the poor student to solve that problem when I came in, and he or she -- I don't remember whether it was a man or a woman -- she couldn't do it, not naturally. I was looking more at the thought processes and not whether they could do it, and they did fine. And then I kept thinking about it, that this was a good problem, because if we take the approach I used, that people decide on crime with similar sort of calculations as they decide on whether to become a professor, that's the starting point. There is no difference between criminals and professors in that sense. Of course, some people are honest, they don't want to be criminals. But the kind of calculation, "Can I do better by this?" as opposed to something else, is a calculation I think a lot of criminals make. And now we have to have enforcement. How much money do we want to put into enforcement? To capturing and convicting and punishing people? If we improve legal opportunities through education -- my human capital work came in -- then that should reduce crime. So I built a framework to discuss those issues, where improving education will reduce crime, improving the likelihood that we will apprehend and convict criminals would reduce crime, and then I went back and looked how criminals will respond to this and came to a bunch of conclusions about how much we should put into one activity, another activity. I did some preliminary tests on this with actual data, whether the criminals actually respond to punishment, whether improvements in education reduce crime. I had a series of students who followed that up. So this is the way the area developed. It's now a very big area in economics, some very good work being done, some by my students, some by a lot of other people. But my orientation was this little sort of experience I had going to this exam, and then building on my type of work at that time.
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Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Father of the World Wide Web

I was really lucky to know how a computer worked, 'cause I'd built one. I built it. I had my terminal with its 64-character lines, and I had it connected to my computer, which was in a crate this big with a big car battery at the bottom in case the power failed. I knew how it worked because I knew how I could have built the chip out of gates, and I knew how I could have built the gates out of transistors. I didn't really know how transistors worked, but I knew I could have made the equivalents of a transistor. I learned a certain amount from the physics course about how solid-state systems work, and I knew how I could emulate each of those out of nails. So now, when I look at a laptop, I see all those pixels and see the windows moving. I know that I could build the operating systems, and I have built little operating systems since. I don't know how well anybody nowadays, without going through that historical phase, could ever feel that they really know how a computer works.
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Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Father of the World Wide Web

Math was my favorite subject, I suppose, at school, but on the other hand, I was interested in this electronics. So I thought I'd do physics as being a compromise between the two. It wasn't. It was something completely different, I realized. The philosophy of physics is different, and I think physics is pretty special. I'm glad that I did do it, but it did not prepare me. It did not turn me into a mathematician, and it did not really allow me to do electronics. It allowed me to do a lot of thinking, all sorts of interesting ways, and I realized the relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic. The microscopic rules of behavior of atoms, and the macroscopic behavior of them and so on, is really very interesting. That difference is now crucial between the microscopic way in which two computers interact over the network and the way the whole web behaves, which we're now calling "web science." The difference between the microscopic and the macroscopic is still a challenging step.
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Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Father of the World Wide Web

What people describe as the "Aha!" moment, the "eureka" moment, I think this idea of it being a moment, I'm very suspicious of. I don't actually believe that Archimedes sat in the bath, saw the water up, and said "Eureka!" I think he probably tried all kinds of things. He tried ways of filling the crown full of little marbles maybe and counting the marbles. Goodness knows what. No, he tried all kinds of ways of estimating its volume. And then he figured, "Ah goodness! Yeah. Water will do it!" But he'd done a lot of preparation, and he probably had a lot of ideas pretty close to it. And in fact, it didn't happen -- (snaps). If you'd started him off on the problem totally fresh and sat him in the bath, nothing would have happened. It wouldn't have happened without him discussing the problem with people, without him starting to form all of these hypotheses, half-formed things.
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Yogi Berra

Baseball Hall of Fame

Yogi Berra: Well, it's not an easy game. You got to stay at it. You really do. You know, a lot of people just think - we had guys - kids today, they're organized today. We weren't organized. Like you and I, you pitch to me, and I'd throw to you after. And, like I said, that cartball taught me a lot, softball. You got to keep your eye - you can't swing hard in softball, that's another thing. I never swung. If I swung hard, I would swing and miss a lot. And, you play with bottle caps, that ain't gonna make you swing hard, neither. And one strike, you were out. And you had to get four hits before you get a run. And we played it day and night. We loved it. Whatever was in season. I played a lot of soccer. I love soccer. I love to watch soccer games on TV. And back there on the Hill, we played against - soccer, we had Spanish living there, the Italians and Germans and Irish. We played against each other. And, I used to enjoy it. That was good. That's a good conditioning game, that soccer. It is.
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Yogi Berra

Baseball Hall of Fame

Yogi Berra: I was a lousy catcher 'til they got Bill Dickey there. Dickey worked me hard. And, I liked it, though, what he did for me. I owe everything to Bill Dickey, I really do. He made me a good catcher. How to block balls. I try to do that to some of the kids today. They've got their own style, some today, you know. And, now everybody tells me, "Boy, you're so short." I say, "Well, I make a good target. I don't have to bend down so far. I'm in the strike zone all the time." But Dickey, he really worked me, boy. Worked me to death, and I loved him for it. And, then it came easy. It came easy for me. Like a lot of people, I try to tell them, I know they take that crow hop now, you know, when they throw to second base, but I don't. But see, I go into a ball. I can let you swing a bat, and I go across home plate, you won't hit me.
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Yogi Berra

Baseball Hall of Fame

Yogi Berra: Work hard at it. It's not easy. Anytime you got a chance to hit, hit! And, that's what we did. And, practice what you're doing. You know, fielding, whatever position you play. I never caught until I turned pro. I played second base, I pitched a little bit, and I played outfield. And, they thought I had a good arm, but I didn't know where I was going. That's when they got hold of Dickey. Like I said, I was a terrible catcher, but I had somebody to teach me.
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Yogi Berra

Baseball Hall of Fame

They're making the parks small. They want to see home runs today. It seems like it, they want to do that and I get a kick out of them. You know, they run around the park. You know, they jog around the park. And, I used to tell them when I was coaching, I said, "Do you jog when you run to first base?" We used to do 20 laps, 100 yards, and walk back. A hundred yards. After every spring training game, we always did. Pitchers used to run from foul-line to foul-line, and they used to do it during the season while he wasn't pitching. The starters would do it. 'Cause they're all four bases. Running was a lot to us. They made you run.
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