Catch a Falling Star, the life story of Donald Clayton, follows the struggle of one human being to find love and to create scientific understanding of the origin of the atoms of chemical elements. Born on an Iowa farm, son of an aviation pioneer, he became the first among his family to attend college, then graduate school in physics at Caltech. His three marriages reveal his battle with sexual anxiety and a sense of loss. At the same time he struggled to discover new knowledge about the creation of the atoms of our bodies and our earth. His close friendship with two great pioneers of the origin of matter enlivened his scientific life in the United States and Europe. His discoveries created two new fields of astronomy whose beginnings are featured in the book.
Clayton’s autobiography chronicles the exciting life that he lived on the frontier of the scientific discovery of the origin of the chemical elements within stars. His adventures centered on academic institutions: California Institute of Technology, Rice University, University of Cambridge, Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, and Clemson University. Catch a Falling Star tells how science and his love of it endowed his life with meaning.