Don Herbert, the man called "Mr. Wizard" on his television show in the 1950's and 1960's, died yesterday. Here is the obituary, including this quote that says it all:
"Over the years, Don has been personally responsible for more people going into the sciences than any other single person in this country," George Tressel, a National Science Foundation official, said in 1989. "I fully realize the number is virtually endless when I talk to scientists. They all say that Mr. Wizard taught them to think."
Mr. Wizard would hook you at the beginning of the show with something that looked magical, and then he would teach you the science behind it. I can still visualize particular programs, and I am talking about things from 40 years ago. (There's the one where he dropped a rock into a pail of water, and it caught on fire. Quick, name the element!) I never became a scientist, but he provoked my interest in and study of science as a boy and to this day.