This week, the 100th episode of Ask Science, on the Science of Agoraphobia, hits the virtual shelves. Since this is a significant event, I thought I'd take the time to step back and share some of the things that first sparked my interest in science. Today, I recall the books that started it all.
Despite the fact that my parents wouldn’t buy me expensive toys and then sit back and watch me dismantle them, my father was interested in helping me learn more about science.
That's why when I was in kindergarten, my father bought me a set of science encyclopedias called Growing Up with Science: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Invention.
These books were great for two things. First, they had beautiful, full-color illustrations that went with every article, which explained the inner workings of everything from air-conditioners to robotic arms to atomic bombs. The articles were also easy to understand, even for someone my age.
And thanks to the fact that they were hard covered, of uniform thickness, and had a little groove that ran alongside the spine, they were great for lining up around the room to roll marbles on top of. I would build ramps, towers, perilous drops, and long tracks, to see how far I could make marbles roll.
I’m sure this wasn’t the way my father hoped I would use the books, but I got just as much enjoyment from this as from reading them. And it led to my interest in physics.