English CBSE Class 10 NCERT Footprints without Feet Chapter 6 The Making of a Scientist Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



At the age of twenty-two, a former ‘scout of the year’ excited the scientific world with a new theory on how cells work. Richard H. Ebright and his college room-mate explained the theory in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Word Meaning
Excited Surprised, Thrilled

Richard Ebright’s age was 22 when he surprised the world of science with a new theory of how cells work. Richard had earlier won the award of ‘scout of the year’. His room-mate in his college was his colleague in the research. They had explained the theory in an article published in a magazine ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.’



It was the first time this important scientific journal had ever published the work of college students.

For the first time this important journal of science had published an article written by college students.

In sports, that would be like making the big leagues at the age of fifteen and hitting a home run your first time at bat.

In the sport of baseball, it is equal to a player of 15, playing for the first time in a big tournament and scoring a home run in the first attempt. [Author wants to say that it was a very big achievement for a young person still studying in college]

For Richard Ebright, it was the first in a long string of achievements in science and other fields. And it all started with butterflies.

Word Meaning
long string of achievements So many achievements

This was the first achievement in the long series of achievements of Richard Ebright in the field of science and other fields. His achievements started with study of butterflies.



An only child, Ebright grew up north of Reading, Pennsylvania. “There wasn’t much I could do there,” he said. “I certainly couldn’t play football or baseball with a team of one. But there was one thing I could do — collect things.”

Word Meaning
Grew up Became adult from a child

Richard Ebright was the only child of his parents. He grew up in a town which was north side of another town called Reading. It is in the state of Pennsylvania of USA. There were not many activities there. He could not play football or baseball. But he started collected several things.

So he did, and did he ever! Beginning in kindergarten, Ebright collected butterflies with the same determination that has marked all his activities.

So he collected things. He always collected things. He started collecting butterflies when he was studying in kindergarten. He had a good determination for it similar to any other activity he did. [Meaning that he did his every work with determination.]

He also collected rocks, fossils, and coins. He became an eager astronomer, too, sometimes star-gazing all night.

Word Meaning
Rocks Stones
Fossils Remains of old plant and animals
Astronomer Who studies sun, moon, stars etc.

He also collected stones, fossils and coins. He became interested in study of Sun, Moon, stars and planets. Sometimes he used to keep looking at stars throughout the night,



From the first he had a driving curiosity along with a bright mind. He also had a mother who encouraged his interest in learning.

Word Meaning
Driving curiosity Great curiosity

Form the beginning he had a bright mind and was very curious to learn. His mother encouraged him to learn more and more.

She took him on trips, bought him telescopes, microscopes, cameras, mounting materials, and other equipment and helped him in many other ways.

Ebright visited many places with her mother. She bought telescope, microscope, camera and other things for him. These helped him to learn in many different ways.

“I was his only companion until he started school,” his mother said. “After that I would bring home friends for him. But at night we just did things together. Richie was my whole life after his father died when Richie was in third grade.”

Word Meaning
Companion Colleague, Friend, Associate
Whole Complete, Full

His mother told that she was his only colleague till he started going to school. After he started going to school I used to invite his friends to our home. But during the night we played and read together. Father of Richard died when Richie was studying in class three. Then Richie became my complete life.



She and her son spent almost every evening at the dining room table. “If he didn’t have things to do, I found work for him — not physical work, but learning things,” his mother said. “He liked it. He wanted to learn.”

She (mother of Richie) and Richie were together at the dining table every evening. If he did not have anything to do, I gave him some work. It was not a physical work but it was something new to learn. He wanted to learn a lot so he liked it.

And learn he did. He earned top grades in school. “On everyday things he was just like every other kid,” his mother said.

And he really learned. He was a topper in his class. His mother told that his daily routine was same that of any other kid.

By the time he was in the second grade, Ebright had collected all twenty five species of butterflies found around his hometown. (See following box)

By the time Ebright reached in second standard, he had already collected all the twenty five types of butterflies found around his hometown. (Please see the table in the text book for types of butterflies)



“That probably would have been the end of my butterfly collecting,” he said. “But then my mother got me a children’s book called The Travels of Monarch X.”

Word Meaning
Got me Gave me, Brought for me

Ebright said that probably I would have stopped my butterfly collecting hobby after that. But my mother gave a children’s book. Name of that book was ‘The travels of Monarch X’.

That book, which told how monarch butterflies migrate to Central America, opened the world of science to the eager young collector.

Word Meaning
Migrate Move to another region
Eager Enthusiastic, Keen
Collector One who collects

The book narrated how monarch butterflies move from other regions to Central America. This narration opened a new world of science to the enthusiastic young collector.

At the end of the book, readers were invited to help study butterfly migrations. They were asked to tag butterflies for research by Dr Frederick A. Urquhart of the University of Toronto, Canada.

In the last pages of the book, the readers were requested to help in the study of migration of butterflies. Readers were requested to put a small mark on each butterfly. A scientist Dr. Frederick A. Urquhart was doing research on migration of butterflies. He was working at University of Toronto in Canada.



Ebright’s mother wrote to Dr Urquhart, and soon Ebright was attaching light adhesive tags to the wings of monarchs. Anyone who found a tagged butterfly was asked to send the tag to Dr Urquhart.

Word Meaning
Tag Label

Ebright’s mother wrote a letter to Dr. Urquhart. Soon the tags arrived. Ebright used to fix a small sticky label on the wings of monarchs. Anyone who found the butterfly with a tag was requested to send the tag to Dr. Urquhart.

The butterfly collecting season around Reading lasts six weeks in late summer. (See graph below.) If you’re going to chase them one by one, you won’t catch very many.

The butterfly collecting season around the town of Reading was for six weeks during later part of summer season. If someone tried to catch butterflies by running after them, one would not catch a large number of butterflies.

So the next step for Ebright was to raise a flock of butterflies. He would catch a female monarch, take her eggs, and raise them in his basement through their life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to pupa to adult butterfly.

Word Meaning
Raise Nurture, Rear, Breed
Flock Group

So in the next step Ebright reared and nurtured a group of butterflies. He used to catch a female monarch butterfly to breed it at his basement. It will lay eggs. Then caterpillars will come out of eggs. They will become pupa. Then pupa will become an adult butter fly.



Then he would tag the butterflies’ wings and let them go. For several years his basement was home to thousands of monarchs in different stages of development.

Then he used to put a label on wings of butterflies and allow them to fly. For many years, thousands of monarchs in various stages of development used to live in his basement.

“Eventually I began to lose interest in tagging butterflies. It’s tedious and there’s not much feedback,” Ebright said. “In all the time I did it,” he laughed, “only two butterflies I had tagged were recaptured — and they were not more than seventy-five miles from where I lived.”

Word Meaning
Eventually Finally
Tedious Boring, Tiring
Feedback Response
Recapture Catch again

Ebright said that finally he started losing his interest in tagging of butterflies. It was a  tiring work and he did not get much response to his work. He laughed and told that from his work of tagging, only two butterflies were again caught. These were caught at distance less than 75 miles from his place.

Then in the seventh grade he got a hint of what real science is when he entered a county science fair — and lost. “It was really a sad feeling to sit there and not get anything while everybody else had won something,” Ebright said.

Word Meaning
Hint Indication
County fair State level fair

When he was in seventh standard, he participated in a state level science fair. He did not win any prize. There he got an indication about the real science. Ebright said that he felt very bad to sit in the fair and not get any prize while all others had got some prize.

His entry was slides of frog tissues, which he showed under a microscope. He realised the winners had tried to do real experiments, not simply make a neat display.

Word Meaning
Neat Good

His model in the science fair was slides of frog tissue. He showed this to visitors through a microscope. He understood that winners had tried to do some experiments. They did not make a presentation of something good.

Already the competitive spirit that drives Richard Ebright was appearing. “I knew that for the next year’s fair I would have to do a real experiment,” he said. “The subject I knew most about was the insect work I’d been doing in the past several years.”

By this time Richard Ebright had started having a feeling of competition. I understood that in the next year competition I would have to show a real experiment. My knowledge was most about the insect work. I had been doing work on butterflies since past many years.

So he wrote to Dr Urquhart for ideas, and back came a stack of suggestions for experiments. Those kept Ebright busy all through high school and led to prize projects in county and international science fairs.

So Ebright wrote a letter to Dr. Urquhart for ideas for doing experiments. He gave many suggestions to Ebright for experiments. These ideas kept him busy up to his high school. He won prizes at state level and at international science fairs.

For his eighth grade project, Ebright tried to find the cause of a viral disease that kills nearly all monarch caterpillars every few years.

When Elbright was in eighth standard he did a project to find the cause of a viral disease. This particular disease used to kill caterpillars of monarch after every few years. He tried to find reason of this disease.

Ebright thought the disease might be carried by a beetle. He tried raising caterpillars in the presence of beetles. “I didn’t get any real results,” he said. “But I went ahead and showed that I had tried the experiment. This time I won.”

Word Meaning
Beetles A type of insect

Ebright thought that the disease might be because of presence of beetles. He started rearing caterpillars and beetles together. He said that he did not get result. But I conducted the experiment and showed that I had tried to do an experiment. So this time I won a prize.

The next year his science fair project was testing the theory that viceroy butterflies copy monarchs. The theory was that viceroys look like monarchs because monarchs don’t taste good to birds.

During next year his project for the science fair was about testing a theory. The theory was about why viceroy type of butterfly copy monarch type of butterflies. He assumed that viceroy try to copy monarch because birds do not eat monarch type of butterflies.

Viceroys, on the other hand, do taste good to birds. So the more they look like monarchs, the less likely they are to become a bird’s dinner.

Word Meaning
On the other hand Opposite to this

Opposite to this, birds like to eat viceroy type of butterfly. So if viceroys look like monarch type of butterfly, there is less probability of a bird eating them.

Ebright’s project was to see whether, in fact, birds would eat monarchs. He found that a starling would not eat ordinary bird food. It would eat all the monarchs it could get.

Word Meaning
Starling Type of a bird

The project of Ebright was to check if birds actually eat monarch. He found that starling does not eat what other birds eat. A starling likes to eat monarch butterflies. Starling would eat every monarch it sees.

(Ebright said later research by other people showed that viceroys probably do copy the monarch.) This project was placed first in the zoology division and third overall in the county science fair.

The project of Ebright was first in zoology section and overall third in the state level science fair. (Afterwards some other people had done research and found that probably viceroys did not copy monarch).

In his second year in high school, Richard Ebright began the research that led to his discovery of an unknown insect hormone. Indirectly, it also led to his new theory on the life of cells.

Word Meaning
9th Standard High School Freshman (First year)
10th Standard High School Sophomore (Second year)
11th Standard High School Junior (Third year)
12th Standard High School Senior (Fourth year)

In the second year of his high school, Elbright started a research and discovered a new hormone of insect. Indirectly, because of this discovery, a new theory of life of cells was made.

The question he tried to answer was simple: What is the purpose of the twelve tiny gold spots on a monarch pupa? “Everyone assumed the spots were just ornamental,” Ebright said. “But Dr Urquhart didn’t believe it.”

Ebright had tried to find an answer to a simple question – what is the purpose of twelve golden colour spots on the wings of a monarch pupa. Everybody thought that these are for decoration. But Dr. Urquhart did not believe this assumption.

To find the answer, Ebright and another excellent science student first had to build a device that showed that the spots were producing a hormone necessary for the butterfly’s full development.

To know the answer, Ebright and one other excellent science students made a device. This device showed that the spots produced a type of hormone. This hormone was required for full development of a butterfly.

This project won Ebright first place in the county fair and entry into the International Science and Engineering Fair. There he won third place for zoology.

This project won first prize at the state level competition. It was also sent to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair. There the project won third prize in the zoology section.

He also got a chance to work during the summer at the entomology laboratory of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Word Meaning
Entomology Study of insects

He got an opportunity to work during summer in the entomology department of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

As a high school junior, Richard Ebright continued his advanced experiments on the monarch pupa. That year his project won first place at the International Science Fair and gave him another chance to work in the army laboratory during the summer.

In the third year of his high school (in 11th standard) Richard Ebright continued his experiments on pupa of monarch butterfly. That year the project won first prize at International Science fair. This gave him one more chance to work at the army laboratory during summer.

In his senior year, he went a step further. He grew cells from a monarch’s wing in a culture and showed that the cells would divide and develop into normal butterfly wing scales only if they were fed the hormone from the gold spots.

During his 12th standard he did a higher level of experiment. He grew cells from wings of a monarch through culture. [Artificial development] He proved that the cells would divide to develop into an adult fully developed butterfly. This will happen only if cells received hormone from the gold coloured spots.

That project won first place for zoology at the International Fair. He spent the summer after graduation doing further work at the army laboratory and at the laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This project won the first prize at the International fair. During summer after graduation (completing 12th standard), he did more research at the army laboratory and at the laboratory of US Department of Agriculture.

The following summer, after his freshman year at Harvard University, Ebright went back to the laboratory of the Department of Agriculture and did more work on the hormone from the gold spots.

Next summer, after his first year at the Harvard University, Ebright again went to the laboratory of Department of Agriculture. He did more research on hormones from the golden spots.

Using the laboratory’s sophisticated instruments, he was able to identify the hormone’s chemical structure. A year-and-a-half later, during his junior year, Ebright got the idea for his new theory about cell life.

He used advanced instruments of laboratory to identify chemical structure of hormone. After one and half years, during second year at the Harvard University he got the idea of his new theory about life of a cell.

It came while he was looking at X-ray photos of the chemical structure of a hormone. When he saw those photos, Ebright didn’t shout, ‘Eureka!’ or even, ‘I’ve got it!’

Word Meaning
Eureka A happy shout on achieving something
Eureka I found it

This idea came to him when he was observing the X-ray photo of the chemical structure of hormone. After seeing photos he did not shout ‘eureka’ or ‘I have got it’. He remained calm.

But he believed that, along with his findings about insect hormones, the photos gave him the answer to one of biology’s puzzles: how the cell can ‘read’ the blueprint of its DNA.

Word Meaning
Blueprint Plan, Pattern

But he believed that his finding about insect hormones and the X-ray has answered a great buzzle of biology. The puzzle was how behaviour and properties of a cell is affected by pattern of DNA.

DNA is the substance in the nucleus of a cell that controls heredity. It determines the form and function of the cell. Thus DNA is the blueprint for life.

Word Meaning
Heredity Related to genetics

DNA is a part of the nucleus (central portion) of a cell. It controls heredity. It governs function of the cell. Hence DNA decides the pattern and behaviour for any living being.

Ebright and his college room-mate, James R. Wong, worked all that night drawing pictures and constructing plastic models of molecules to show how it could happen. Together they later wrote the paper that explained the theory.

Word Meaning
Paper A detailed report

Ebright and his college room- mate James R Wong worked throughout the night. They drew sketches and made plastic models of molecules to explain the method of cell getting affected by DNA. Then they both wrote the report to explain the theory.

Surprising no one who knew him, Richard Ebright graduated from Harvard with highest honours, second in his class of 1,510.

Richard Ebright graduated from Harvard University with very high rank. He got second rank among 1510 students. Nobody was surprised by his rank.

Ebright went on to become a graduate student researcher at Harvard Medical School. There he began doing experiments to test his theory.

After that, Ebright became a student of Ph D (graduate student researcher) in Harvard Medical College. There he started doing experiments to test his theory.

If the theory proves correct, it will be a big step towards understanding the processes of life. It might also lead to new ideas for preventing some types of cancer and other diseases.

If the theory is proved correct, it will take us closer in understanding the process of life. It may give us new ideas about preventing some types of cancer and other diseases.

All of this is possible because of Ebright’s scientific curiosity. His high school research into the purpose of the spots on a monarch pupa eventually led him to his theory about cell life.

This all has become possible because of keen interest of Ebright towards science. His high school research about the purpose of spots on pupa of monarch guided him to his theory about life of a cell.

Richard Ebright has been interested in science since he first began collecting butterflies — but not so deeply that he hasn’t time for other interests.

Richard Ebright became interested in science when he started collecting butterflies. But he had time to pursue his other interests also.

Ebright also became a champion debater and public speaker and a good canoeist and all-around outdoors-person. He is also an expert photographer, particularly of nature and scientific exhibits.

Word Meaning
Public speaking Giving speech in public
Canoeing Boating

Ebright took part in debates. He was a very good debater and good at public speaking. He was good at boating. He was good at outdoor activities. He was an expert photographer of nature and scientific exhibitions.

In high school Richard Ebright was a straight-A student. Because learning was easy, he turned a lot of his energy towards the Debating and Model United Nations clubs.

Word Meaning
Straight A student Excellent student, Topper
Model United Nations Club An activity in which student play role of UN delegates

In high school he was an excellent student. He was able to learn very easily. So he diverted lots of energy towards debating and Model United Nations clubs.

He also found someone to admire — Richard A. Weiherer, his social studies teacher and adviser to both clubs. “Mr Weiherer was the perfect person for me then. He opened my mind to new ideas,” Ebright said.

Word Meaning
Admire Appreciate

He admired Richard A Weiherer. Mr Weiherer was his social studies teacher and advisor to both the clubs. (Debate and MUN club). Ebright had said that Mr Weiherer was a perfect person, he opened my mind to new ideas.

“Richard would always give that extra effort,” Mr Weiherer said. “What pleased me was, here was this person who put in three or four hours at night doing debate research besides doing all his research with butterflies and his other interests.

Mr Weiherer said that Ebright always used to make extra efforts. Mr Weiherer appreciated that Ebright used to do research for his debate in the night for three or four hours. This was in addition to his research for butterflies and other areas of interest.

“Richard was competitive,” Mr Weiherer continued, “but not in a bad sense.” He explained, “Richard wasn’t interested in winning for winning’s sake or winning to get a prize. Rather, he was winning because he wanted to do the best job he could. For the right reasons, he wants to be the best.”

Mr Weihere further said that Richard was competitive in a good sense. Richard was not interested in winning for the sake of winning or for getting a prize. He was winning because he was always doing the best work. He wanted to be the best for right reason – by learning more.

And that is one of the ingredients in the making of a scientist. Start with a first-rate mind, add curiosity, and mix in the will to win for the right reasons.

Word Meaning
Ingredient Component, Quality
First rate Excellent, Brilliant
Will Desire

And this is one of the qualities that makes a person a scientist. One should have a brilliant mind, keen interest to learn and the desire to win for the right reason.

Ebright has these qualities. From the time the book, The Travels of Monarch X, opened the world of science to him, Richard Ebright has never lost his scientific curiosity.

Ebright has all these qualities. Reading the book, The Travels of Monarch X, opened the world of science to him. Since that time Richard has maintained his keen interest in science.



Important Links
The Making of a Scientist – Textbook Q&A The Making of a Scientist – Extra Q&A
Footprints Without Feet – Explanation The Necklace – Explanation
Footprints Without Feet – Textbook Q&A The Necklace – Textbook Q&A
Footprints Without Feet – Extra Q&A The Necklace – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing




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