” I was not a reader. I was dyslexic and I still am…I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew is I could never read out loud. That was always a disaster because I’d miss too many words, make too many mistakes. And the more nervous you get the worse you are.” – Dr Wally Broecker, geochemist, Columbia University Professor, winner of the ‘Nobel Prize’ for theGeosciences
“He has singlehandedly pushed more understanding than probably anybody in our field,” says Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State, who has collaboratedwith Broecker for years. “He is intellectually so huge in how the earth system works and what its history is that all of us are following Wally in some way or another.”
I knew about Broecker’s work from Marine Biology because I knew he had discovered the great ocean conveyor, a very big picture discovery that explained how massive ocean currents could affect climate changes.
“I learned to put together apples and oranges, i.e. field and laboratory observations.”
A lot of people may have a hard time putting together Wally Broecker’s difficulty reading and his exceptional abilities and figuring out geophysical processes, but even as a young child, he was observant and had a knack for mechanical and electrical devices. He wasn’t a serious student, but he built model airplanes and was always very good at math. When he was a little older, he built a car out of a soap derby box and an engine from a washing machine. It could go as fast as 35 miles an hour, but its only breaks were his shoes.