The man who learnt to learn

February 14, 2009

When I first started to understand that I could begin to understand the world in little spoonfuls, this man captured my imagination as possibly no one else. Michael Crichton stood for so much that I try to make a point of remembering( and am not successful ).

  •  He  published at fourteen, dabbled in literature and anthropology at Harvard, took a summa cum laude in one of them, and finally qualified as an MD ,and then decided to write. All that , while winning the Edgar still in College, with two different pen names as a writer. Directed movies, created TV shows,wrote (quite stunning) science fiction, and , towards the end of his life, took impassionate and controversial views on many legal issues – Cloning,Global Warming, and Science in general. Gulp.
  • He seemed to be able to take on academic complexity with remarkable disrespect for professorial reputation, and emerge  with a ringside view of how much progress had been made. Somehow, he kept spotting petty human prejudices in the forestry of high-sounding words. You were reminded of why someone chose to explore Nature –not to publish in Nature, but really, to feel the thrill of having a jab at a hypothesis.And then check that out.Even if it happened to be wrong.
  • He behaved as if passive learning was an oxymoron. He learnt to program in BASIC(not because he had a console job, but because he didn’ t feel comfortable operating a black box). He was audacious enough to write a general manual for BASIC. The book was audacious enough to sell itself. 

I did not  agree with him on everything, particularly in the last eight years when I thought he wasn’t in the same place he was earlier. Maybe that was an unfair comment. I know I ‘m not in the same place where I was awed by him.  I think that’s what he’d have replied if ever faced with an accusation of that sort. Sure, after reading (and using equations based on ) Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle for a full year, I finally understood what I was into when a character from  Jurassic Park made this comment:

You can’t observe anything without changing it. That’s the single most important scientific discovery of the twentieth century. 

Of course I knew that . I just didn’t feel  it until then.  That was Michael Crichton. I already started missing him in the last eight years. I hope I can latch on to what spoke to me(and it seemed, just me) from across half the globe, into my bedroom.


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