When most people think of wizards these days, images of Harry Potter or Gandalf the Grey come to mind. But to me, the most important wizard in my life went by the name of Mister.
Don Herbert, TV's Mr. Wizard, passed away yesterday at 89. He is probably one of the great scientific influences on my life. When I watched his show as a kid, I learned that science was something that anyone could do. I didn't need to have expensive equipment or a fancy degree. All I needed was curiosity and a few carefully selected household items and the mysteries of the universe would fall at my feet. Later in life, I would be introduced to the likes of Newton and Hawking, but the real inspiration for my love of discovery came from Herbert.
He didn't have a terribly impressive academic background, just a degree from a teachers' college and some time spent in the Army. What he did have was a passion for his subject and the ability to pass it on to others. He was one of my favorite teachers growing up, even though he never knew it, and I will always remember him.