I was born in East Los Angeles. Beginning in the second grade, I had only one wish in mind: to become a scientist. It was an unusual wish, because no one in my family had ever had anything to do with the subject: Dad was a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal minister, Mom was a housewife, and I myself had never even met a scientist. Nevertheless, my single-minded ambition took me from the barrios of East L.A. … to UCLA … to Cornell … and ultimately to Harvard.
But a funny thing happened to me on the way to Cambridge: I discovered the joys of communicating my beloved subject to the public. Doors opened unexpectedly, and before I knew it, ABC News hired me to be its Science Editor — a coveted position first made famous by the incomparable Jules Bergman, who died prematurely of a brain tumor. As his immediate successor, I had big shoes to fill.
In the glorious years that followed — fourteen in all — my science reports appeared regularly on Good Morning America, Nightline, 20/20, and World News Tonight. I had the privilege of working alongside and learning from some of the titans in the TV news business, including Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, and Barbara Walters.
While at ABC News, I broadcast reports from every imaginable venue on the planet: Valdez, Kuwait, Mt. St. Helens, the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, North Pole, and South Pole — just to name a few. In all, I broadcast thousands of stories about every aspect of science.
After leaving ABC News, in 2004, I had the opportunity to host my own weekly primetime series on the The History Channel titled “Where Did It Come From?” In each one-hour episode, I take viewers around the world in search of the ancient roots of modern technology — everything from the modern sports stadium to high-speed aircraft to high-rise apartment living.