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There is usually a defining moment, or event, that leads a person to science. For 10 year old Martin Rybar, it was the moment when he found the chemistry laboratory kit from his uncle in his parents' house. Curiosity has always been the main driving force in science – and Martin was no exception.
There are many paths into science and one that might have played a key role for Takanori Kono could be LEGO bricks. Maybe it is the segmented approach learned from playing with those bricks that helped him later on tackle computer programming. It is easier to break down any problem into smaller chunks, seeing how it is put together as though it were made from basic building blocks.
“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” we all remember Neil Armstrong saying while taking his first steps on the moon. As so many, Fred Luehring was glued to the television set that 21st of June, 1969, but to him this event meant much more than to most.
“In Sweden you can go out dancing in the summertime, where they play popular music but adapted for dancing,” says Stockholm native Bengt Lund-Jensen. Nine years ago, he decided to re-visit the dances of his undergrad days in pursuit of fitness, and now he spends his summers stepping out with other Scandinavians in the midnight twilight.
“In a sense, life is never as you've foreseen it to be. This is also true for natural laws, and that's why I like to be a physicist so much,” Pascal Pralavorio says as he explains what makes discovery so interesting for him.
Pascal seems to have a trend flowing through his life: to strategise and plan, to accept the consequences of discovery, and to enjoy the ride. For him, to explore is everything. With such varied interests as physics, singing, and playing guitar, piano, and games of strategy, it is apparent that he has a love for the thinking process. Pascal enjoys what he encounters unexpectedly, and especially what stems from the toughest parts of problematic situations.
Going into his new position with Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand ('Wits' for short), Trevor Vickey sees his brief as “a sort of linear combination between a professorship and a Peace Corps assignment”. The tenure-track Senior Lecturer post will take him to a brand new continent, but, he says, he made the original application “on a whim” after five years as an ATLAS postdoc.
Rachid Mazini grew up in Casablanca, Morocco. Although he’s now a big fan of rugged terrain, he spent his youth as a “city boy” with holidays on the Atlantic shoreline. It wasn’t until he started university in Marrakech that he began to explore the mountains – the Atlas range, in fact.
For Rolf Seuster, there’s no place like Victoria, Canada. Located on Vancouver Island, about 90 km south of this year’s Winter Olympics, Rolf believes it’s one of the nicest places in the country. “It’s the size of Switzerland, and there’s maybe half a million people on the whole island,” he says.
When the time came for François Butin to do his military service for France, he wasn’t interested in the armed forces. Instead, he chose to become a “cooperant”, working for a longer period in research or engineering. “In the old days, if you wanted to do your military service in an intelligent way, that was one of the good opportunities,” says François.
Attila Krasznahorkay has physics in his blood, the son of a nuclear physicist and a physics and math teacher. He was also introduced to the traveling life style at an early age, moving from his Hungarian homeland to Groningen in the Netherlands at eight years old when his father began work in the city’s university. His young, agile brain managed to pick up the Dutch language, but now, although he recalls the experience of being fluent at age nine, he struggles to think of words.