Donald D. Clayton

Chapter 1: In the beginning there was no earth. But long before the earth and planets formed, the chemical elements existed. Their atoms were created not at once but over time, over very long time. The creation of the elements that we inherited on our earth began about thirteen billion years ago, an age about three times greater than the age of our earth. The most abundant of our mineral-forming chemical elements were created by thermonuclear explosions near the centers of exploding stars. Stunningly, the chemical elements and their specific abundances are the products of natural history within the universe.

Chapter 6: This was a very good course for me, helping me learn what contemporary physics was about. Tommy explained the miracles of the atom with a jaunty classroom manner that seemed to always share our own amazement at the quantum world. He threw in colorful remarks that made sure we had gotten the point. I learned for the first time that the electrons in the atoms did not have precisely located orbits like those of the planets around the sun, but that they moved with only precisely calculable probabilities of being found in this place or that, moving this way or that. I learned that light existed in indivisible bundles of energy whose magnitude depended on frequency, and that the light from a hot body could not initially be understood without those quanta. I puzzled a lot over such ideas and loved every minute of it.

Chapter 15: At forty years of age my personality was reshaped by events almost volcanic in their eruptions. Subsequent events flowed down the channel that was formed, and, like water through a volcanic caldera, carved that groove deeper. During this 1975 eruption I was similar to Captain Jack Aubrey, Maturin's fictional colleague, also no longer young but not yet old. Much naivete and insecurity had been dealt with, and without recognizing the urge I was seeking new identity and new scientific mission--some goal to take me beyond being the formulator of nucleosynthesis systems. Stumbling upon this channel would give me a new character and a new career as a meteoriticist. My new scientific adventurousness was reinforced by the directions of subsequent work. It may be that it can not have given me a character for which I had no hidden predilection.