Clifford Stoll became somewhat famous shortly after his first book, The Cuckoo’s Egg, was published in 1990. It’s the story of his success at tracking down a hacker who had infiltrated the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory computer network in 1986.
Stoll, a University at Buffalo graduate, is a Robin Williams-esque character: energetic, brilliant, and very eccentric. A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him when he was the recipient of the Pioneers of Science award from the Hauptman-Woodward Institute. I remember the hushed moment when he thanked the presenters, his mother, Cooley and Tukey – at which point I laughed so hard that those seated around my table got really annoyed. When I spoke with Clifford afterward he thanked me for getting the joke.
This brief presentation by Stoll is a wonderful look at what happens when you mix a mad scientist and an effervescent, almost innocent, personality. I would like to know how much of this is a rehearsed act (it is obvious that some of it is) and how much is on-stage ad-libbing.