Astronomy was my first career choice but was talked out of it by a High School counsellor. I had several unhappy years at the start in Aerospace Engineering, and switched to Chemistry after 3 years in the military.
What a wonderful thread about an amazing scientist, climber, and all around gentleman. Thank you, Lyman Spitzer, for all you gave to the world. And a special thanks to Rich for originally posting his story here. Existence is such a gas I can hardly stand it sometimes. Every time I see a Hubble photo I am reminded of just what wonderful things we humans are actually capable. Thanks again.
I refer to his 1956 book Physics of Fully Ionized Gases frequently these days as I learn about that physics, which concerns my current research. I'm sure there are more modern books, but there is an elegant simplicity (though dense) in Spitzer's treatise, and some of it is still used, amazingly, after 60 years.
I never got to meet him as my youth had me in some other domains of physics.