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Maverick Scientist

My Adventures as an Amateur ScientistForrest M. Mims

Maverick Scientist is the memoir of Forrest Mims, who forged a distinguished scientific career despite having no academic training in science. Named one of the “50 Best Brains in Science” by Discover magazine, Forrest shares what sparked his childhood curiosity and relates a lifetime of improbable, dramatic, and occasionally outright dangerous experiences in the world of science. 

At thirteen he invented a new method of rocket control. At seventeen he designed and built an analog computer that could translate Russian into English and that the Smithsonian collected as an example of an early hobby computer. While majoring in government at Texas A&M University, Forrest created a hand-held, radar-like device to help guide the blind. And during his military service, he had to be given special clearance to do top secret laser research at the Air Force Weapons Lab. Why? Because while he lacked the required engineering degree, they wanted his outside-the-box thinking on the project. 

He went on to co-found MITS, Inc., producer of the first commercially successful personal computer, wrote a series of electronics books for Radio Shack that sold more than seven million copies, and designed the music synthesizer circuit that became known as the infamous Atari Punk Console. All this came before he started consulting for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and NOAA’s famous Mauna Loa Observatory, and earning the prestigious Rolex Award. 

This intimate portrait of a self-made scientist shares a revelatory look inside the scientific community, and tells the story of a lifelong learner who stood by his convictions even when pressured by the establishment to get in line with conventional wisdom. With dozens of personal photos and illustrations, Maverick Scientist serves as proof that to be a scientist, you simply need to do science.

Forrest M. Mims

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Forrest M. Mims III is an instrument designer, science writer and independent science consultant. He has made regular observations of the ozone layer, solar ultraviolet radiation, photosynthetic radiation, column water vapor and aerosol optical thickness since 1989 at his Geronimo Creek Observatory in Texas. He cofounded MITS Inc., the company that introduced the first personal computer, and Science Probe magazine, which he edited.