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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 65
Although the period's economic and political turmoil often interfered with scholarly concerns, the young Hans Popper clearly was one of his humanistic middle school's (Gymnasium) outstanding students, as he was expected to be by his family. He was an intellectually restless young man in search of his personal identity. Toward the end of the war, for example, he passed through a rebellious phase during which he actively fought at the barricades for the despised emperor's downfall, to the understandable horror of his family. His intellectual restlessness accounted for the unusually wide range of academic interests upon which he successively focused attention during his formal education. He decidedly was not a collector or meditator, but rather a dynamic man of vision and action who displayed an almost deterministic attraction to, and fascination with, change, evolution and progress. It is not surprising that Darwin was one of his lifelong heroes. He was a natural leader whose intellectual dynamism and insatiable curiosity contributed materially to his charismatic personality; these personality traits, however, also explain an aspect of his professional style of which he was quite conscious and which at times bewildered him. As he said of himself, "I jumped too much from one subject to another and thereby missed opportunities which I should have pursued with more perseverance." True, perhaps, insofar as he never succeeded in making a dramatic discovery or breakthrough; rather, his life's work constitutes an almost legendary series of important scientific observations and the positing of novel relationships and challenging hypotheses, provocatively presented, often deeply probing, and always concluding with persuasive, plausible explanations. The total volume and significance of his published contributions are of a dimension and breadth rarely equaled in clinical investigation. And as he mock-