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Sciencey Heroes For Young Children? 614

An anonymous reader writes "Unhappy that all his friends have heroes he knows nothing about (they've all chosen hockey players — actually a hockey player: Sidney Crosby), my eight-year-old son asked me if I would find him a 'cool hero.' When pressed to define 'cool,' he very earnestly gave me this list of acceptable professions: 'Astronauts, explorers, divers, scientists, and pilots.' A second and only slightly less worthy tier of occupations includes 'inventors, meteorologists, and airplane designers.' To be eligible for hero status, an individual must be (1) accomplished in one of these fields, (2) reasonably young (it pains me to report that Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, NASA's youngest astronaut and now just 31, barely makes the cut), and, critically to my naive son's way of thinking, (3) respected by third graders nationwide. Ignoring that last criterion, or not, what heroes would you suggest from the sciences as people whose lives and accomplishments would be compelling to an eight-year-old mind?"

Going the speed of light is bad for your age.