Penn State

Robert L. Sainburg - professor of kinesiology and neurology; director, University Park graduate program in neuroscience; and executive editor, Journal of Motor Behavior, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Arm of the Starfish

Author: Madeleine L'Engle

Book Description:

Madeleine L'Engle wrote a number of young-reader books that subtly depicted academic and scientific culture through the lives of her characters. I suspect that I was not the only teen whose enthusiasm for science was inspired by these books. In this particular book, the arm of the starfish, a young marine biology student travels to the remote island Gaea off the coast of Portugal for a summer job working for a famous scientist. During his internship, Adam is provoked, seduced, and bribed by greedy individuals who are interested in commercial profits from the research. In a sense, the classic struggle between good and evil is portrayed as a conflict between profit motive and intellectual integrity. For me, these stories by Madeline L'Engle inspired an interest and excitement about intellectual endeavors, and scientific discovery.


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