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loved building things, solving puzzles. Especially, I fell in love with the night sky.
One of the people that I was fascinated with growing up was Albert Einstein, and the theory of relativity, how could he have such strong imagination to be able to sit in a room and think of the universe in such different ways. It was such a drastically different way from the normal way of thinking at the time. He questioned everything, even the fundamentals of Newtonian physics. To me, that was bold; that was exciting; that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to question everything and not take anything for granted. He has been one of my heroes. I always loved to learn about his life, his way of thinking, his habits.
X: Where do you think your drive comes from?
A.A.: It’s hard for me to tell. I had a difficult childhood. I think as an immigrant, as someone who faces adversities in one way or another in your life and things don’t come easy to you, you learn to fight for what you want. That sense of fighting for a better life, fighting for something that is important to you, something that you love, something that you want, gives you certain type of perseverance that is missing from the lives of those who have been handed everything. Life experiences have been my best teacher and my best driver in life. It helped me achieve a lot.
X: If you got stranded on a desert island, what’s the one thing you would have to have with you?
A.A.: Chocolate. I live on chocolate. …. I could go for a pair of binoculars so I could look at the night skies or a telescope. The night skies have been an escape for me. I know if I’m depressed or something difficult is going on with my life, if I’m frustrated or stressed, I can look at the night skies and just get lost. When I look up, when I think of the scale of the universe, my role in it and where I am, everything just seems to shrink. It’s been a refuge for me, a way for me to escape and get lost in the cosmos.