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Jerry Michalski

Some of you who know me know I curate a mind map using an app called TheBrain, and won't be surprised that I keep answers to things like what Steve just asked in there. For example, http://bit.ly/2FwFQH1 lists books, movies and other things (like Stewart Brand asking NASA for a picture of the Earth from space) that affected many people's lives.

In that list, mine's Connections, the TV series that James Burke created. (Funny enough, Burke was also a Brain user for a while.) I love the notion that we're all building on one another's creations, often remixing them in unusual ways and contexts.

To get more specific on the book front, I also have a set of thoughts (each node is called a thought) that are my book recommendations. They all connect at http://bit.ly/2nsS6AW

This rabbit hole is at least one layer deeper: When I really like a book, like Charles Mann's 1491 and 1493, I debrief what I learn from them into my Brain. See http://bit.ly/2EqwNYU

Om Malik

One of my favorite all time movies was an Indian movie called Guide, based on a book called The Guide by R.K. Narayan who is fantastic and his book, the Malgudi Days is just brilliant.


What it defined me is the mystical powers of belief and the idea that one person can bring perceived change is so real. I am a hopeless romantic and basically this movie ruined me for love and explains why I am single and waiting for my one true love.

Hope this is a good enough feedback


Oooo.. I love this one:-)

Harry Potter started me on my reading addiction. I’ve never stopped I loved the movie series Lord of the Rings and identified strongly as an elf. That made me go back and read the books. When I was fourteen I discovered Shakespeare. Reading is so important to me. I’ve never stopped.

steve crandall

I can't remember any films, but the Amateur Scientist column by C.L. Strong in Scientific American from age 12 on. Many of the projects were way over my head, but I learned and fantasized. I wore the magazines out. The same with Sky and Telescope magazine. I made an eight inch reflector telescope from their articles.

Flatland was a great math fantasy book and Mr Tompkins in Wonderland by by George Gamow was a very gentle introduction to special relativity and quantum mechanics that probably gave me a hard shove. I don't think anything better has been written.

As a little kid my hero was Gyro Gearloose . a relative of Donald Dusk who was a semi-failed inventor. Some of the inventions were wonderful.

Had I been born a bit later I can imagine the first TV Cosmos series would have been life changing. The movie Contact could have done it too. I visited the VLA about the time the movie was being filmed. If a kid was really excited about science already and had aspirations the best and most accurate movie I've seen on physics is Particle Fever.

I liked Kip's movie too, but I'll admit a bias:-)

Nancy White

Jacques Cousteau specials when I was a kid led me to marine botany studies at Duke. I strayed after that!


Mr Tompkins was great. My astronomer mother read those stories to me at bedtime.

Yet I didn't discover printed SF until much later. So I didn't know about the hyperspace plot conceit, and didn't want to believe relativity because that would make Star Trek impossible.

But some great TV were Multiplication Rock, Make a Wish, and Curiosity Shop. The latter had a computer/oracle named Regus Patoff (separate the syllables).

Make a Wish was a combination idea/theme exploration and a 20min steam of word association.


No media: no TV until later. SF books maybe. History books definitely. Euclid in 5th grade (with a ruler and a compas)

Linda Shockley

West Side Story was one of the first films I saw in a theater. I was 6 years old. It had me at that opening aerial scene. I was transported by the exotic city, the exotic people, the love story. (It was my introduction to Shakespeare, to Jerome Robbins, to Leonard Bernstein.) I cried. I had gone with my mother and when we walked out, I was blinded by sunshine and the real world. Her reaction? "I hate musicals." To this day she's unimpressed by wonder, and probably love.

I was also shocked by "To Kill A Mockingbird." I was 7 years old and hadn't read the book. Naively, I'm still shocked by the injustice, the cruelty, the inhumanity.

Growing up middle class in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there weren't many opportunities for live theater. We must have had a progressive drama teacher in middle school as the theater club performed Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." We had no pre-show discussions in class and I was shocked by the play. Today, it seems prescient.

We didn't have kindergarten but I was reading before attending first grade. Other than running wild in the creeks and forests, my favorite place was the Melrose Branch Public Library and I walked there alone - about 3 miles - even as a 7 year old. That love of wild places and of libraries remains two of my passions.

I was hooked on Nancy Drew, travel stories and any tale about animals.

At the root of it all - film, theater and books - I found my love of the underdog, the oppressed, the uninvited, the unjust, and on the flip side, the heroes, the courageous, the whistleblowers, the rebels and renegades.

As an adult, I've always had large libraries of books and DVDs. When I moved from Southern California back East, I sold my library of books to a San Diego bookstore. (I kept my poetry collection, and favorite travel and music books.)

The proprietor asked me to set them all out on the sidewalk so I did, breaking them into categories.

There, my collection of African-American authors.
There, the Latin American authors.
There, the feminist collection.
There, my favorite fiction, with non-fiction next to it.

Standing above the stacks of categories, I saw every phase of my life, each having shaped me as a reader, writer, woman, feminist. It was more intimate than I could have imagined. I thought I was simply selling books I didn't want to cart across the country again when in fact I was holding up a mirror.

Bryan William Jones

Blade Runner... "I made your eyes".

Daniel Kaliba

The Human Brain: A Guided Tour by Susan Greenfield. I got it as present for a christmas, hooked to neuroscience since 4th grade.


I loved Gamow. Mr Tomkins, of course, but One, Two, Three Infinity. His descriptions of physics and math were crystal clear and this one has one of the best descriptions of transfinite numbers and I was 12 basking in it!

He was amazing. Three of his books and I knew what I wanted to do that Summer as a 12 year old. It worked out too.

Real science, entertaining and not dumbing it down. I can't think of anyone that good since.

This was before we had a television.


One of my favorite all time movies was an Indian movie called Guide, based on a book called The Guide by R.K. Narayan who is fantastic and his book, the Malgudi Days is just brilliant.


What it defined me is the mystical powers of belief and the idea that one person can bring perceived change is so real. I am a hopeless romantic and basically this movie ruined me even more.

dave buj

Book: Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus comes to mind. Endless fun lessons there. (Ok, maybe not "fun" ...but still) :)

Film: as I wrestled with whether or not to move from Boston to SF in 1996, I watched Shawshank and this quote helped me see uncertainty in a whole new light. Less fear; more anticipation. I moved a month later. Worth remembering more often! "I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

Jerry Michalski

Some of the other comments (how cool!) reminded me of boyhood influences, which I once put into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bev9VChj5xQ&feature=youtu.be

Jean M Russell

So many PBS shows and specifically The Brain. I would sneak out of my room at night to watch Masterpiece Theater. A book series called The Great Brain which was about a smart boy (and Madelene L'Engle's books too) invited me in, but I rejected that it had to be boys all the time. Reading all of Sherlock Holmes (1154 pages of 2 column fine print) was a major accomplishment as a pre-teen. I read voraciously, even devouring most of the Reader's Digest Condensed novels my parents had collected. My favorite there is probably Green Mansions. By the time I was in college, I had a cyberpunk fixation which led to a fascination with Kathy Acker.
What I did NOT see or read that became a concern for me (and I wish I had seen some handling of it in narrative) was what it could mean to society to drastically extend life. Sure it can be told as a lovely story for the individual who lives longer, but I was/am concerned about what it means for society and culture as a whole over time (and thus I shifted studies from biology to ethics and then to cultural studies).

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