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Tim D. White

Pioneering Paleoanthropologist

I think there is a common misperception of what it is that we field paleontologists do. Many people think that we just go out, wander around, and stumble on things. And we actually see this in almost every media report of a new fossil discovery. You know, "The team stumbled upon these new remains " Believe me, we don't stumble around! You are looking at maybe that few seconds of actual discovery being luck. Luck, over whether you look in that direction, or that direction, and then down, and see the cranium. But that's the last couple percent. The 98 percent before that is the hard work of identifying where to walk in the first place, setting up the logistics to get these large teams of scientists into the field, finding out how old those fossils are by using all the geological dating techniques that we have, studying things in the laboratory for years and years and years. The last little bit is luck, but most of it is just plain hard work and determination on these fossil discoveries.
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Tim D. White

Pioneering Paleoanthropologist

I took, as an undergraduate a series of courses that didn't, at first glance, have a lot to do with what I ended up doing. I particularly liked the paleontology classes, and anthropology, as a discipline, often hasn't encouraged folks to go out and take biology, geology, paleontology, and incorporate those things into an anthropology curriculum. I was interested to do all of that, but that left me, by the time I got to the end of my undergraduate career, left with me a couple of majors but not really a clear career path, if you like. At that point I went to the University of Michigan to do graduate school, and found myself in another great environment, with an intersection of museums dealing with geology and paleontology and archeology.
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Elie Wiesel

Nobel Prize for Peace

He was a Hasid, meaning a member of the Hasidic community, and I loved him, I adored him. So, thanks to him, I became a Hasid too. And my mother -- who actually continued his tradition -- she's the one who brought me to Hasidic Masters. And all the stories I tell now -- I've written so many books with Hasidic tales -- these are not mine, these are theirs, my mother's and my grandfather's. My father taught me how to reason, how to reach my mind. My soul belonged to my grandfather and my mother. They enriched me, of course. They influenced me profoundly, to this day. When I write, I have the feeling, literally, physically, that one of them is behind my back, looking over my shoulder and reading what I'm writing. I'm terribly afraid of their judgment. After the war -- I wrote about it in my autobiography so I want to come back to that subject -- I had a teacher in France who was totally crazy. He spoke 30 languages, literally 30 languages. One day he learned that I knew Hungarian, and he didn't. He felt so bad that he learned Hungarian in two weeks. In two weeks he knew more about Hungarian literature than I did. Then I had, in New York, a very great teacher, a very great Master. His name was Saul Lieberman, a Talmudic Scholar. I've studied Talmud all my life. I still do, even now, every day. For 17 years we were friends, as only a real teacher and a good student can be.
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Elie Wiesel

Nobel Prize for Peace

At home we didn't study the prophets that much. We studied the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) and then, again, Talmud and Hasidic stories. They, of course, had a lasting influence on me. Secular literature? We had to go to school, so we went to school too, but the main impact I received was from my religious schools as a child.
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Lenny Wilkens

Basketball Hall of Fame

The two best players would choose up teams and I never got picked and so I'd wait for a chance to play and we used to play four on four. So when my turn finally came I would select three players to play with me. And now here I waited all this time, it's my game, and they wouldn't pass the ball to me. So every time I got my hands on it I just shot it and they started calling me a "heaver." And so, I started to go to the playgrounds to try and learn to play. I played CYO [Catholic Youth Organization] ball and that's how I got to know Father Mannion and he kept encouraging me. He would tell me, "If you want to get better at it you have to learn how to dribble. You have to learn how to pass," you know, things like that. And he would set up chairs for me to dribble in and out of, stuff like that. And what he saw in me, I don't know, but certainly he had to see something. He always put me in positions of responsibility and things happened.
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Lenny Wilkens

Basketball Hall of Fame

I think the military was good for people at the time because -- it did -- it taught discipline and it taught that we had to work together to be successful. The other thing it taught me was organization, too. It helped. Whatever organizational skills I had, they just were enhanced because of being in the military.
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