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Mr. Wizard: he binded us with science

Long before Bill Nye the Science Guy, How Stuff Works and Mythbusters, there was Mr. Wizard.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

Long before Bill Nye the Science Guy, How Stuff Works and Mythbusters, there was Mr. Wizard.

Don Herbert, who was Mr. Wizard, passed on yesterday at 89.

If you are over a certain age, you will remember Don as the host of "Watch Mr. Wizard." Airing new episodes from 1951 to 1964, Mr. Wizard turned the then-relatively new television set into a classroom where scientific experiments were successfully conducted and explained to curious youth.

"He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along," his former colleague Steve Jacobs told the Associated Press. "You were learning about the forces of nature."

Some of his shows featured early computing technology as well as show-and-tells about fiber optics. We still use fiber optics today.

Mr. Wizard was active up to and through, the Internet age. His shows were rebroadcast on Nickelodeon, and his DVDs are still selling.

Although the 42 year-interval since his last regularly scheduled new show infers that most scientists and technologists who were inspired by Mr. Wizard are no longer active in the field, the point is that Mr. Wizard was the pioneer in harnessing mass media to turn on a generation to scientific inquiry and respect. All who have come after Mr. Wizard owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Mr. Wizard was the initial sociocultural inspiration for a generation who became our teacher's teachers, our inventors, our lab rat.

And to those of us who look for inspiring figures in a world where technological and scientific inquiry isn't always exercised for the noblest of purposes, we thank you, Mr. Wizard, for a life well-lived.

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