I was an extremely reclusive and introverted boy.
My childhood home backed onto wheat and cotton fields.
Another important aspect of our home was respect for ideas.
At Berkeley I had my first encounter with real professional scientists.
But the need for conflict to expose prejudice and unclear reasoning, which is deeply embedded in my philosophy of science, has its origin in these debates.
As a consequence while we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes to wear to school we were constantly conscious of being of modest means.
It was at this moment that I wrote my first important paper in theoretical physics. I was 32 years old, 5 years beyond the alleged age of senility for theorists.
Western society has many flaws, and it is good for an educated person to have thought some of these through, even at the expense of losing a lecture or two to tear gas.
My job at Stanford is rather different from the ones I had held previously in that my own ambitions must take a back seat to the well-being of the students with whom I work.
I also taught myself how to blow glass using a propane torch from the hardware store and managed to make some elementary chemistry plumbing such as tees and small glass bulbs.