Di Cera, Enrico
How I became a biochemist
“You surely must be joking” said Professor Biscardi, Preside of the prestigious Liceo Classico “Mario Pagano” in Campobasso that once hosted Italian luminaries like the philosopher Giovanni Gentile. He was referring to my desire, as a high school senior, to become a scientist. Back in the late 1970s, admission to the Universita' was reserved to students going through the Liceo: the Liceo Classico trained those wishing to pursue a career in Social Studies, Law or Higher Education, and the Liceo Scientifico greeted those interested in the Sciences. Gentile himself had conceived that Manichean system when, in his 40s, he was appointed as the Minister of Education by Mussolini. The Liceo Classico was a 5‐year‐long tour‐de‐force in the study of history, philosophy, Latin and Greek classics. Mathematics and Biology were dealt with en passant. Basically, according to Biscardi, I had picked the wrong Liceo. On the contrary, I did enjoy the classics and the “sharp reasoning skills offered by the study of philosophy” advocated by Gentile. The Liceo Classico was the right place to prepare myself for a career in science. To remedy the pitiful training in mathematics, I learned advanced calculus by myself from textbooks borrowed from older
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