Charles Vest, who headed MIT from 1990 to 2004, has died at 72. He has been praised as "a tireless advocate for research and science and a passionate supporter of diversity and openness."

In the video below, which Big Think taped in 2007, Vest spoke about his early interest in science and all things physical. This interest sprang from the end of World War II, a time when there happened to be "all of this amazing army surplus equipment" available. 

In addition, one of Vest's classmate's father worked for the state police, and he would confiscate slot machines in raids and then smash the front of them before turning the machines over to Vest and his friend. And so Vest's fascination with all things physical grew out of taking discarded things apart and building something new with them. 

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock