28 October 2022 – Today I learned:
about Rupert Pennant-Rae, a 74-year-old Brit who was on staff of The Economist for many years, including as editor from 1986-1993, was deputy governor at the Bank of England from 1973-1977 and from 1993 until 1995 when an affair with an American journalist led to his hasty departure, and was Chairman of Royal London, Britain’s largest mutual life, pensions, and investment firm from 2013 until 2018 — and who knew absolutely nothing about science for almost his whole life. Pennant-Rae had never heard of the periodic table and he didn’t know he was a mammal. Then, at the age of 71, he decided to remedy this cavernous gap in his learning and hired a tutor three hours a week to teach him physics, biology, and chemistry.
Apparently at his Anglican Church boys’ boarding school in Zimbabwe, where he grew up, if you were “extra clever” you learned Greek instead of science.
Now the guy is in love with the sciences. He keeps the periodical table near him at all times (almost). He rhapsodises about electricity and a glass of water.
It’s the first story in this RadioLab podcast from March 2019 if you want to hear more.