Clifford Stoll

Clifford StollClifford 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.

If you like Klein bottles (you can buy one here), bad-tasting vitamin water or inspirational science, this is a fun watch.


3 Responses to Clifford Stoll

  1. joebuckley says:

    I realize that you’re aware of this, Paul, but for the benefit of the thousands who read your blog…

    I was lucky enough to work with Cliff circa 1985 at STScI (and btw, who *is* that grey haired old guy in the picture??? ;> ), back in the day when he was a mad astronomer. Robin Willians-esque is a good description.

    Imagine walking in to his – um… dishelveled – office, piles of papers (turned every which way, of course), on top of books on top of his lunch FROM YESTERDAY, strewn everywhere including the floor, and he’s sitting cross legged in his swivel chair in the middle of this chaos, expertly playing with his yo-yo.

    Yeah – That’s Cliff, wild hair and all. I’m glad to see he hasn’t changed a bit. And not surprised.

  2. RaiulBaztepo says:

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  3. PiterKokoniz says:

    Hello !!!! ^_^
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: what was the reasson for you to start this blog?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter

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