our beloved mr. wizard (don herbert) died today at the age of 89. when i was young, i absolutely loved to watch mr wizard's world on nickelodeon... a true youngin of the 80's i was! i enjoyed that fact that he had kids on the show to help perform different scientific experiments. he had a great way of making science accessible and not being condescending while helping the kids formulate theories to figure out what was really happening! he made me want to figure out how things worked and probably introduced me to skepticism, although i've never recognized that until thinking about it now. i became skeptical when people would try to trick me because i suspected there was some explanation that i should be able to figure out. i also had a really cool magicians kit growing up so i was able to trick other people while understanding the secrets (although my grandpa always got me with his "i have 11 fingers" trick!).
usually mr wizard would introduce an experiment by demonstration... always leaving me and the kid on the show amazed, saying "wow"! some things seemed like magic at first, but 10 minutes later i understood the simple underlying scientific truth (or at least i knew that a scientific explanation existed, even if i didnt understand it!!). i've looked around the video internet world, but i havent found any clips of old experiments from the show. anyone know where i can look to find some?
i've typically considered carl sagan to be the major influence in my decision to study astronomy, but i think mr wizard definitely started me on my journey of questioning and logically understanding the world around me.