Most of my teachers probably found I made less trouble if they let me read.
My mother taught me to read when I was still quite young, and at least in my memory I passed the majority of my childhood reading.
My father was a professor of civil engineering at MIT, and my mother taught high school English.
Between rounds of speed chess I read enough of a programming manual to teach myself to write programs on the school's DEC mainframe in the language Basic.
Six months after that, I left Taiwan, first for Hong Kong and then for mainland China, where I spent another three months studying still more Chinese and generally kicking around the country.
There were hints, in those days, that the neutrino might have a rest mass as large as ten eV, a value of cosmological significance.
The 1970s, the decade of my teenage years, was a transitional period in American youth culture.
With every passing year, BEC proves that it still has surprises left for us.
I was partly old-fashioned and partly modern.
The postdoc explained to me how to distinguish different sorts of particles on the basis of the amounts of energy they deposited in various sorts of detectors, spark chambers, calorimeters, what have you.
I was born in Palo Alto, California in 1961.
Some of my classes in high school were pretty interesting and I benefited from having several very intelligent and inspiring teachers.
As it was, I realized choosing the study of Chinese literature as my life's work was probably a mistake.
I certainly remember building model rockets. It was fun to watch the rocket blast into the air, suspenseful to wonder if the parachute would open to bring the rocket safely back.
After a semester or so, my infatuation with computers burnt out as quickly as it had begun.
My freshman year of high school I joined the chess and math clubs.
I didn't really enjoy the assembling the model kits very much, and usually I couldn't be bothered to paint the thing, or even to stick on the decals.
My fellow students there were very smart, but the really novel thing was that they actually seemed to put a lot of effort into their school work. By the end of my first semester there, I began to get into that habit as well.
It was there I met my future wife, Celeste Landry, although our lives took us separate ways for many years and we were not to marry until more than ten years later.
Conversely, I came to realize that being good at something is hardly a reason to avoid doing it.
The family, including my younger brother and sister, accompanied my father on sabbatical years to Berkeley, California and Lisbon, Portugal.
I really enjoyed this experience, and it was these jobs, more than anything else, that persuaded me to pursue a career in scientific research.
My head was always bubbling over with facts and it seems to me this had little to do with my paying close attention in school and more to do with my voracious and omnivorous reading habits.
Travel provided many interesting experiences, but perhaps the most useful lesson I learned was that I really had no proficiency for learning the thousands of characters of the written Chinese language.
There are relatively few experiments in atomic physics these days that don't involve the use of a laser.