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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

The target of the four minute mile then came into view. It was talked about in the '30s and the Swedes got very close, but it had just taken us after the war to gradually come down to a time closer and in '53, which was the year, if you remember, when Everest was climbed by a British Commonwealth team, I ran 4:03 and I felt the next year it should be possible. It was my last year anyway, and so I trained hard through the winter with two friends, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, Brasher from Cambridge, Chataway from Oxford, and they helped with the pace making and really made it possible because you could only break a time really by running evenly. It's a question of spreading the available energy, aerobic and anaerobic, evenly over four minutes. If you run one part very much too fast, you pay a price. If you run another part more slowly your overall time is slower. So that was really the secret.
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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

I was training myself when I went to school in Bath. I lived on the top of one hill and the school was at the top of another hill. Nobody ever went to school by car. We didn't have any cars during the war. So that to and from school was itself a training, which you might think is now the equivalent of a Kenyan farmer who spends a lot of time, and when a child he has eight miles to go to school, and then as he grows up he looks after the herd. So, you know, my childhood was a vigorous one.
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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

Sir Roger Bannister: Essentially, muscles contain two sorts of fiber. They are called simply fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers. And we have a mixture of them and that's genetic. But you can, by training, alter the balance of some of the intermediate fibers, make more fast ones or make more slow ones, according to the training you do. So the sprinters have more fast-twitch fibers and concentrate on developing them. Distance runners have more slow-twitch fibers. And obviously I was born with more slow-twitch fibers, but the whole of my training was developing these fibers.
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Sir Roger Bannister

Track and Field Legend

Sir Roger Bannister: I must be the international athlete who trained least. In other words, I had worked out from my knowledge of physiology what was the minimum amount of training that would be needed to continue to improve year by year and every year, I suppose, I would be reducing my mile best time by two or three seconds, you know, starting 4:18 and then gradually, gradually coming down. And basically I was doing interval training. I had so many other interests that I wanted to have my evenings free and I would usually miss lunch and sometimes there were rather unimportant lectures at 12 o'clock.
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

I remember my own father, which is now 91 years old, repeating to me once and again this point from Isadore Rabi's story about how he became a scientist. He said the most influential moment was that his mother repeatedly when he used to come back from school at a very early age of eight or nine asking him, "Isadore, have you asked kind of a good question today?" Not "What you have learned?" not "What you have observed?" but "Have you raised a good question today?"
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

You know, we didn't have a school system at the time that would prepare the students for college. No matriculation. No formal systematic coverage of a certain syllabus or curriculum that will enable you to enter. It was kind of a rural, remote school system, very caring, very open, very encouraging kind of "do it your way," which is very modern today, but without kind of sets of standards that should be achieved and practically began to learn systematically only when I was adult, about 23 or 24 when I made my matriculation when I was already an operational officer in the armed forces.
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

So unlike what you typically relate to military service, I felt that I'm growing up and developing in a kind of environment of the freedom of the spirit, and the freedom of imagination, the freedom to dare whatever you think. It puts a lot of burden of responsibility not to take too much of a risky approach, but it makes you responsible. We used to say, "You are the commander in the field, you are responsible to it. No one can help you from somewhere in some command post in the rear." And it shapes young people, you know, in a unique way if they're ambitious in a way, if they're predisposed for leadership.
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Ehud Barak

Former Prime Minister of Israel

All my life I was stimulated by business activity. It looked to me something -- the closest thing to war. You don't kill the other guy but, you know, there's an active attempt of one to defeat most of the others and a certain partial kind of cooperation, and the fact that you cannot act effectively unless you understand the whole picture and at the same time give attention to details. And sometimes your defeat can come from someone that you don't even see at first. It became clear after two months that (Yitzhak) Rabin wants me to come to join government. The last few years I was deeply involved in his effort to have the agreement with the Palestinians. As the top military authority I have to express my views about what it means, what are the calculated risks that we can afford. And his effort to reach an agreement with the Jordanians, which ended up with a peace agreement with King Hussein. And I had a very close and warm relationship with King Hussein that began years earlier during the Gulf War and even before. And then I was sent by Rabin to meet the Syrian Chief of Staff here at the Blair House where, you know, I was just a civil servant. The Syrian Chief of Staff is number two in the Syrian politics. He is a political figure and the closest friend at the time of President Assad. So I was somehow exposed to these kind of political kind of experiences in this field of security and foreign affairs.
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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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