S t e v e  M u r r a y
Instrument Builder and Chandra X-ray astronomer
Chandra X-ray Observatory

Steve in the test lab.
What--at school or in home, what book or TV show--got you first interested in these kinds of questions?

I am a child of the Sputnik era. I think that Isaac Asimov's book "1-2-3 Infinity" was very influential in helping me to think of science as a career. Math came easy to me in grade school and I think that by the time I was in Jr. High I knew I was going to be involved in something technical--at that time I did not know enough about Physics, but I did know about Engineering and so I thought I would be doing that.

In High School I had a chemistry teacher who invited me to help out in an after school science project he was working on for his Ph.D. thesis. I learned a lot about laboratory technique, careful preparation, note taking and observation from this experience, and I become more interested in "pure" science compared with "applied" science. Later in High School, the space race gave me an opportunity to spend a summer at a special NASA-sponsored program where I was exposed to a very exciting science environment that included working with computers (which in 1963/64 were not widely available) and learning about physical principles that could be applied to everyday (real world) problems--such as rocket propulsion, atmospheric structure and weather. I also learned calculus and for the first time could really appreciate the connection between math and physics.

Steve opens a test chamber.
If there's one piece of advice you would give to a middle or high schooler who thinks they are interested in learning more about astronomy and space science it's that...

Read! There are lots of books that talk about these subjects. See what excites you. find out the questions that are currently hot and how scientists are attacking them. See if you can get involved more. Clubs, special programs, visits to science museums, etc. Visit a university and talk with working scientists. Use the resources that you have--be they schools, libraries, web sites, etc.

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