N e a l  H u r l b u r t
Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Palo Alto CA

Soon after I learned to read, I decided that I wanted to become a nuclear physicist. It was the height of the Cold War and I was fascinated by how physicists could make such big bombs and explosions, and how submarines could travel around the world with only the power released from a handful of uranium. That got me going in science. My parents subscribed to "Scientific American." I watched all the science shows I could find on television, and spent many of my Saturday mornings in classes at the Pacific Science Center.
Neal's computer screen shows one of his complex and dynamic models simulating how magnetic field lines and intense heat shape convection patterns on the Sun: this is a cross-sectional view.

In 7th grade, my school bought one of the first affordable video tape recorders and gave a group of students the job of taping classes and so forth. That got me interested in television and the technology of broadcasting. We would spent our spare time taking the recorder apart and putting it back together again whenever our supervising teacher wasn't around. This interest grew and I went on to spend much of my time in high school making movies and working in our high school radio station, drama club and photography lab.

My interests in the outdoors had also grown and by the time I left high school I was leading a mountain search and rescue team and trying out to be a professional ski patrol member at my favorite ski area. My high school aptitude test said I should be a forest ranger. So when I graduated from high school, I was forced to make my first big decision: Do I become a professional skier or a television engineer? My skiing buddy took off to Sun Valley. I headed down to Southern California to study electrical engineering.

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