Science is our best current approximation of the way things work. You cannot do science unless you believe there is a discernable truth inherent to the arrangement of our tangible world. The problem is, we in our given time never know where exactly the asymptote lies or how far we are from it. My curiosity about the natural world is innate, but fate has variously gifted me with outstanding personal opportunities to indulge that curiosity through the study of viruses. To a woman of the boomer generation, professional paths were not always open-door, and to a certain extent they still aren't. Whether such points should now be viewed as obstacles or stepping stones is a matter of perspective. RNA viruses, and the multiple, seminal mentors who taught me their secrets, have defined my career. Some of their stories are told here as they dovetail with mine. If there is any unity to this, it would be a pursuit of the language of life, or sequence analysis, as taught to us by natural selection. The intent here is not a legacy but an example. Science is a beautiful fate.


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