By Daneet Steffens
Updated November 09, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Is it any surprise that neurologist Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) was the ultimate science geek growing up? Thanks to close relationships with two of his uncles — one devoted to physics, the other to metals — a young Sacks became enthralled by chemistry, marine biology, and geology, not to mention bits of a dissected octopus he kept in his room. He was also given to skulking around H.G. Wells’ house, hoping to catch a glimpse of the sci-fi author. Even if you don’t speak his ”chemical language,” you’ll find Sacks’ boyhood enthusiasm for his myriad passions infectious.

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