Why did you get into this crazy business? When you contemplated a career in exploration, were you enthralled by the wave equation and the proper spelling of Pleistocene? If so, you differ from many of your colleagues. Most of us were curious about science in general and, more specifically, about the planet we inhabit. What really fascinated us was the chance to work not in a room full of test tubes but outside, at the base of a mountain or on an open plain with only grass and wind for company.

As we matured professionally we found ourselves indoors,...

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