J e f f r e y  M c C l i n t o c k
Senior Astrophysicist
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Then, in high school I sort of lost my way for various reasons. That is, although I continued to be interested in science, I didn't continue to have the kinds of interesting and intense experiences that I had had earlier. Later, during my four years at Stanford, I worked hard at physics and math, although astronomy was not really offered there. Then, as a graduate student at MIT in the 1960s, I again studied physics and math. After about three years, I became quite unhappy at MIT and sought jobs in oil and mineral exploration. I was offered a job with Shell Oil Company in Midland, TX, and just as I was about to accept, a friend at MIT argued strongly that I should stay at MIT and join the x-ray astronomy group. He convinced me that flying balloon-borne x-ray telescopes would be more exciting than looking for minerals. It turns out he was 100% right. I quickly "got my groove back"' building these half-ton x-ray telescopes and flying them in Texas and Australia. I completed my PhD in 1969.
Kitt Peak, NM, where Jeff and colleagues made the observations of the black hole's visible companion star.

Next I helped build an X-ray astronomy satellite at MIT; I was responsible for the performance of the 13 x-ray detectors on board. We used this satellite to determine the first precise positions of a few dozen celestial x-ray sources. In 1975, using a 60-inch telescope in the Chilean Andes, I was able to identify the optical counterparts--all faint blue stars--of three of these x-ray sources. In 1985, my collaborator Ron Remillard and I, discovered the first black hole in an X-ray nova, which is an eruptive type of binary x-ray source. Early this year, we discovered the eleventh such black hole. (Ed. note: see the news articles above.) I'm probably almost as excited about astronomy now as I was when I was 15. One good and unexpected outcome of my career is that it has helped me overcome the doubts I had about myself when I was younger. There is really nothing I would rather be doing than astronomy.

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