Although my mother didn't know anything about science, she had a great influence on me as well. In particular, she had a wonderful sense of humor, and I learned from her that the highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.

"Impossible!" I said, without stopping to think that I was doubting the great Descartes. (It was a reaction I learned from my father: have no respect whatsoever for authority; forget who said it and instead look at what he starts with, where he ends up, and ask yourself, "Is it reasonable?")

Reading about those things was like being way off in a wonderful world that nobody knows about, and you're getting a kick not only from the delight of learning the stuff itself, but also from making yourself unique.

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand.