After a semester or so, my infatuation with computers burnt out as quickly as it had begun.
My fellow students there were very smart, but the really novel thing was that they actually seemed to put a lot of effort into their school work. By the end of my first semester there, I began to get into that habit as well.
My freshman year of high school I joined the chess and math clubs.
My father was a professor of civil engineering at MIT, and my mother taught high school English.
There are relatively few experiments in atomic physics these days that don't involve the use of a laser.
Six months after that, I left Taiwan, first for Hong Kong and then for mainland China, where I spent another three months studying still more Chinese and generally kicking around the country.
The postdoc explained to me how to distinguish different sorts of particles on the basis of the amounts of energy they deposited in various sorts of detectors, spark chambers, calorimeters, what have you.
Travel provided many interesting experiences, but perhaps the most useful lesson I learned was that I really had no proficiency for learning the thousands of characters of the written Chinese language.
It was there I met my future wife, Celeste Landry, although our lives took us separate ways for many years and we were not to marry until more than ten years later.
As it was, I realized choosing the study of Chinese literature as my life's work was probably a mistake.
Conversely, I came to realize that being good at something is hardly a reason to avoid doing it.
I was born in Palo Alto, California in 1961.
I was partly old-fashioned and partly modern.
Just before my final year of high school, my brother, sister and I moved with my mother to San Francisco.
Most of my teachers probably found I made less trouble if they let me read.
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