familiar to Sullivan to start out with a general goal, but find himself
in a place he never would have anticipated. It's the same approach he
takes when he goes hiking in a new area. While some people pore over
maps and meticulously plan their hikes, he just finds a trail head and
starts walking, he says. "I've never been to any of the places and I'm
sure they'll all be nice. The people who agonize over maps--they'll
end up in a nice place too, but never where they hadn't planned. There
are some types of science where you pick a trail and continue along
that. If anything tries to lead you away, you don't let yourself detour."
Jeannie Sullivan says she's surprised her brother wound up in the lab. "He never seemed to be a precision type of guy," she said. "He's not someone who would take apart an alarm clock and put it back together. He'd just take it apart."
One day a few years ago, however, she started seeing the adult Bill in a different light. They had stopped to pick blackberries at the side of the road. "My brother was never neat, ever," she says. "We finished picking blackberries and my hands looked like I'd been mashing them. But his were completely clean. He somehow picked them so precisely that his hands didn't get dirty.
At the same time, she says, "his socks don't match.
"It has to do with putting your energy where it matters."