The questions worth asking, in other words, come not from other people but from nature, and are for the most part delicate things easily drowned out by the noise of everyday life.
Over the course of time this gave us a deep respect for ideas, both our own and those of others, and an understanding that conflict through debate is a powerful means of revealing truth.
My rule is simply to do for my students exactly what I hope someone else will do for my sons when the time comes: I teach them to have faith in themselves and in their own compass, to listen to nature to find truth, to love knowledge for the sake of itself, and to strive for greatness.
Another important aspect of our home was respect for ideas.
My childhood home backed onto wheat and cotton fields.
It has been my experience that good theoretical physics is empowering, in that it enables thinking to take place that would otherwise not occur, and, in its highest form, facilitates experiments that would otherwise not be done.
It was at this moment that I wrote my first important paper in theoretical physics. I was 32 years old, 5 years beyond the alleged age of senility for theorists.
To this day I always insist on working out a problem from the beginning without reading up on it first, a habit that sometimes gets me into trouble but just as often helps me see things my predecessors have missed.
Western society has many flaws, and it is good for an educated person to have thought some of these through, even at the expense of losing a lecture or two to tear gas.
But the need for conflict to expose prejudice and unclear reasoning, which is deeply embedded in my philosophy of science, has its origin in these debates.
In parallel with the development of my interests in technical gadgetry I began to acquire a profound love of and respect for the natural world which motivates my scientific thinking to this day.
My mother, who was professional schoolteacher, was particularly concerned about our formal education and even went so far as to start a private school together with some other parents so that our intellectual needs would be met.
My job at Stanford is rather different from the ones I had held previously in that my own ambitions must take a back seat to the well-being of the students with whom I work.
One of the terrific aspects of MIT in those days was the enormous variety of experimental work that either took place there or was talked about in seminars by outside speakers aggressively recruited by the faculty.
As a consequence while we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes to wear to school we were constantly conscious of being of modest means.