In this week’s reading, chapter 10 really focuses on aspects regarding Einstein’s divorce. It seemed as though the closer Einstein and Mileva’s marriage drew to an end, they became more and more distant from one another to the point where Einstein couldn’t even spend time with his sons. Einstein was so completely drained by field equations work that he had little to no time to spend with his family. He also really kept his work shielded from his personal life, which is what I’m assuming caused the great divide in the first place. Similarly to McClintock, Einstein was so dedicated and absorbed by his work and his passion for furthering the scientific field that he found it hard to find time for anything other than his research. One thing that I found quite interesting was that Einstein went against his family’s wishes when he married Mileva, however, he engaged in his relationship with his cousin while he was still married to Mileva and later ended up marrying his cousin Elsa. This all seems very strange to me considering Einstein partook in incest with his cousin. I feel like this is something that is not widely talked about since I’ve been taught the general discoveries of Einstein and we’ve covered it in multiple classes, however, I have never heard about this part of his personal life.
One thing that I found very interesting and complex in regards to Einstein’s work on relativity, was that someone is able to comprehend such complex theories and ideals visually. I believe that this aspect of thinking really helped him in his studies in physics. In all of the physics classes that I’ve taken there are always diagrams and figures that go along with the equations and problems in order to give the student a better understanding of how things relate to one another in motion for example, it’s crazy to think that someone was able to visualize such complex ideas in his head and I am very jealous of that trait. Einstein’s theories and hypotheses he found to be too complex for normal geometry and basic mathematics in the case of rotating discs and accelerating bodies because of distortions due to special relativity. For this type of work, he required the use of non-Euclidian geometry. He did a lot of work regarding the mathematical covariance equation and how objects curve space and time and how a curved space and time dictates matter on how to move. Amongst other accomplishments, he stated that one of the happiest moments of his life was when he predicted Mercury’s shift in orbit. Overall, I find it absolutely astonishing that someone was able to comprehend such complex ideas and was able to apply what was known about mathematics towards what should then be true in the natural world by applying how these natural laws affect everything around us.
One thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was Einstein’s separation between his work and his family. In many ways, Einstein was similar to McClintock in this sense and did not want to let outside influences such as family or romantic relationships interfere with his hypothesis and his theories. As we collect more and more information on his family and his relationships and how he interacted with others though the readings, it seems at times that Einstein has little disregard to his family, which came as a surprise to me. It wasn’t like McClintock who never engaged in romantic or intimate relationships because she was simply so absorbed in her work that she didn’t have time, Einstein was initially very much in love and invested with his wife and his children and it seems that there was some sort of falling out and Einstein shifted his focus and his energy from his wife and family to his scientific work. I found it very interesting in these chapters that Einstein’s intimate relationship in a way deteriorated over the years. Einstein was very dedicated to his work and his theories and would place this aspect of his life over spending time with his family which I find particularly sad. Einstein would swing back in fourth between his relationship and being in love and not being in love and it seemed to change depending upon what other circumstances were going on in his life. By the end of his marriage, it seemed as if neither of them wanted anything to do with one another and he even joked that if he were to win the Nobel Prize she could keep the money if she would agree to a divorce. This kind of goes to show that you do not need to be perfect in order to accomplish great things. However, this still kind of saddens me because it seems as if there is a reoccurring pattern between prominent scientists and their lack of successful intimate relationships with others. This can also be seen in both Franklin and McClintock’s intimate relationships.
What I found to be absolutely astounding and speaks mountains about the ingenious and intelligent individual Einstein was, was his miracle year or his Annus mirabilis publications from 1905-1914. The fact that he was able to publish and release so many different radical scientific papers on various topics within such a short time period just blows me away. It takes a special sort of genius to be able to accomplish such a feat that it left the entire scientific community in awe. His publication on Brownian motion, a concept that had previously been a mystery, was accomplished and released relatively quickly, 11 days after the submission of his doctoral dissertation. He astonished scientists by the simplicity of his explanation on such a concept that was baffling at the time. This reminded me of McClintock and how she struggled to present her scientific work and ideals to the scientific community. Unlike McClintock, Einstein was able to present all of his theories in a very simplistic way and in a way that didn’t have a large body of evidence to back up his claims. He stated his theory to the general public and then allowed for others to do the research themselves to discover for themselves whether or not it was true. This can be attributed in part to his deductive approach to science and his visual thinking.
Another thing that I found interesting in this week’s reading was that Einstein, like many of the other scientists we’ve discussed throughout the semester has a passion and drive towards his work. However, what’s different about Einstein is that he almost comes off as over confident with his hypothesis and does not look into all of the evidence to support his theories and hypothesize, instead he presents his ideas as what he believes to be correct and leaves the rest of the investigative evidence and experiment conducting to the rest of the scientific community. This may have something to do with his very anti-authoritative persona where he simply states what he believes to be correct and almost enjoys his rejection of previous theories and hypotheses. It is important to be anti-authoritative and accept theories and natural laws based on the evidence presented and not on the say so of some credible person. However, I sometimes think that Einstein would be more successful initially if he was not so independent and antiauthoritarian because he upset a lot of his professors and mentors in the way that he openly rejected their claims and seemed to follow his own set of rules.
One thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading regarding Albert Einstein was how you could really get a feel for the kind of character and scientist Einstein was in just the first few chapters. He is an incredibly patient person who saw the world through a different lens than other traditional scientists. I had no idea that he was a very observant individual who was a very visual thinker and thought through pictures rather than words like most others. I believe this contributed towards his dislike towards the traditional classroom setting similarly to Darwin and Franklin. Also, attending a school that focused and encouraged creativity and individuality I believe contributed towards his visual thinking process. I find it very unusual that a school would deemphasize words and language, however, in the case of Einstein and individuals who are more observant and visual thinkers I believe that it would be incredibly beneficial for our society to have more educational systems that formatted their teaching styles around this concept. I believe that everyone has their own optimal learning techniques considering everyone is an individual and unique, therefore it seems very silly to judge everyone based off of the same standards across the board such as GPA and performance on standardized tests. In a way it seems as if we are behind in an educational gap and that all these prominent scientists who proved that success in school is unnecessary and not needed to be successful at what you are passionate about especially in the field of science.
Another thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was Einstein’s antiauthoritarian characteristic traits. Throughout the reading it can be seen that Einstein was a very rebellious and independent individual who often times would openly reject his professors’ views and follow his own set of rules with little regard to the distasteful nature in which he did so. I believe that this characteristic is essential for composing a great scientist. Einstein would not accept knowledge and facts based on the authority, instead he would look at the evidence and the reasoning behind the knowledge before he would accept or reject an idea. He wouldn’t simply accept the textbook view of things. This characteristic is essential for any prominent scientist because the basis of any fundamental research idea starts with questioning and observing a certain aspect about the natural world around us.
One thing that I found fascinating and that really stood out to me in this week’s readings was that Barbara McClintock was often times doubted and ridiculed by her peers when she presented her scientific findings and breakthroughs. She often struggled with presenting her data in a way that was widely accepted by her scientific co-workers. This reminds me of previous scientists that we discussed as a class such as Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin and how they too faced ridicule and doubt by others and they were faced with the struggle of formatting their data and collecting enough evidence to back any counter argument before presenting their research findings. McClintock really struggled with communicating her research in a way that made sense to her scientific coworkers because she was so ahead in her time that she was often thought of as being ahead of a mass knowledge gap. Her struggle with communication really played a large role in her perceived success at the time. Scientists who worked alongside McClintock and who shadowed in her lab were able to experience and see the methods and the means behind the way she thought and researched and were able to be taught how to see between the lines and to interpret information in the way that McClintock did. Many of these individuals and colleagues were very impressed with her research and knew that she was onto something that the remainder of the scientific body couldn’t comprehend. What is incredible to imagine is that Barbara not only faced the same hardships that previous scientists such as Darwin and Franklin did, but she also faced ridicule for being a woman in a field dominated by men. This speaks mountains about her character and her determination and passion towards the advancement of scientific discovery.
Something else that really resonated with me in this week’s reading was how McClintock was a very emotional scientist. She was able to look past just reason and the scientific method and work with passion and emotion which I believe is what enabled her to make all the groundbreaking discoveries that she did. She had a complete openness with the material that was being studied and in a way had a feeling for the organism, and this can be easily seen in the examples where she personifies nature. There was an example in the text where she stated that when she walked on grass she felt as if the grass was screaming under her feet because she was so connected with the natural world around her that she had a feeling for everything. I believe it is this emotion and passion towards her research that enabled McClintock to be as successful as she was. She had a deep emotional connection to the natural world and her research that enabled her to see patterns and things in her research that many of her coworkers and other scientists had simply overlooked. Without this key characteristic trait, I doubt McClintock would have been as successful in her research in genetics considering she had the societal hindrance of being a woman in a male dominated field and all the negative connotations associated with that against her.
In this week’s readings, you were really able to see some of the specific character traits that McClintock possessed. What really stood out to me was her dedication to her work and her drive. McClintock had the ability to get so absorbed into her work that she was determined to examine all of her scientific findings at every angle to ensure that her work would be accepted and respected by the scientific community and her peers. Looking back on some of the previous readings from earlier in the semester with Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin, we are able to deduce some of the specific character virtues and traits that enable scientists to be so great and successful. McClintock’s determination, patience, and attention to detail really remind me of Darwin. A lot of Darwin’s scientific findings and research went against the church and many religious doctrines at the time so in order for his work to be recognized and accepted he had to make sure he gathered enough evidence to support his claims and present his research in a specific manner that ultimately contributed to his success. Similarly, to Darwin, McClintock’s groundbreaking scientific research had to be presented in such a delicate fashion that required great patience, attention to detail, and determination because she was a woman in science. One thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was that McClintock often times analyzed every slight detail in her research and never presented an opportunity for mistake or criticism. Even work that was routine and fairly easy she would do herself instead of pass on to her assistants, this goes to show the attentive nature and dedication this woman had towards her work. Often times, woman at this day in age were not thought of as equals to men, especially in the field of scientific research. Thus, McClintock had to overcome this societal hindrance by proving her intelligence and worth through her scientific research and discoveries which also says a lot about the determination and courage she had.
What really stood out to me in this week’s reading regarding Barbara McClintock and The Feeling for the Organism, was how McClintock really enjoyed the structural and institutionalized education system. This was very different than both Franklin and Darwin who really struggled in his type of setting. It was very empowering and admirable to read that McClintock felt that education was the only thing that could help her succeed and so in order to achieve this goal and to pursue her passion for science, she worked hard in her studies and excelled in school. She was a very passionate and dedicated individual even from a young age and was driven for her passion for science and learning. I found this to be very commendable considering she was entering a field which at the time was predominantly male dominated and had very few women. Even though she was a woman, she was so knowledgeable and intelligent that in a way many of her male peers forgot that she was a woman and held her to the same respect and standard that they held other male scientists.
Another thing that I found interesting about this week’s reading was that McClintock was a perfect example of a classic introvert. She was often thought of as a very quiet and shy individual who really liked to keep to herself, however, when interviewed or spoken to one on one, she really opened up and many were shocked to discover how warm and welcoming she was. During our class discussion the other week, I found it very fascinating that she was so absorbed and dedicated to her work and to her research that she in a way didn’t have time to interact with other people. It’s interesting to think that she may have been so dedicated and passionate towards her work that she thought a family or an intimate relationship would have taken too much time away from her research and that’s her reasoning behind never showing any interest towards having a family. Another interesting thing to think about that really speaks about the societal views on women in science at the time is that she may have never even considered having a family or loved one because it may have made her seem more feminine and weak in the eyes of her contemporaries. As discussed in class, she was so dedicated towards her work that she would never want something such as an intimate relationship to take away from the professional aspect of her life.
What I really liked about this week’s reading was how it more readily discussed specific characteristics that make up the emotion in the scientific character. I enjoyed how the passage opened up talking about how one might believe in the stereotype that all scientists are cold-hearted and emotionless, using an example from Darwin about how he referred to himself as a machine with no wishes or affections and saying that he possessed a heart of stone. This quote honestly surprised me considering the way Darwin’s contemporaries portrayed his character in his obituaries that we discussed in last week’s class. Darwin, in my opinion, seemed to embody the farthest thing from a cold-hearted emotionless scientist, but rather a passionate, patient, and kind scientist. Another thing that I really enjoyed about this section was all of its references to Star Trek and its characters and how they in fact embodied a lot of the thrill behind exploring the natural world and the mystery and fascination that many scientists share when experimenting and observing on subjects never before discussed.
Another thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was the reference to science as a romance. I had always originally thought that many scientific explorations were performed with attentiveness, wonder, and adventure, however, I never made the connection between passion for furthering the knowledge of the natural world as being comparable to the passion between lovers. This intrigued me and made me think of science and the devotion many scientists have towards their research and their accomplishments in a different light.
What I found most fascinating from the reading, The Pond in Winter, was when the author talks about how we only know a few laws of nature and the natural sciences, and how it is even more wonderful and complex the great number of vast laws that operate in harmony with concurring laws in which we have yet to detect. I never thought about the natural world in that light before and it astonishes me that he is able to think this deeply about the natural world around us just by observing the pond in winter. The way he speaks of the unknown natural laws is beautiful, he speaks in such a passionate and fascinated tone that it is inspiring and almost exciting that there is still so much for us to observe and discover from nature and the world around us. This reading really connected to our discussion about emotion and scientific work and how scientists and researchers must find the balance between emotion and passion for their work as well as being detached from the data as to prevent any bias towards an answer or hypothesis
What I found really interesting about this week’s readings on Darwin was how every article really emphasized how great his character and persona was. It was apparent through the readings that a lot of what enabled Darwin to be so successful and what allowed him to achieve all of the accomplishments that he did really had a lot to do with his specific character virtues. If it weren't for these character traits that he possessed, many of his contemporaries said that they seriously doubted that his work on evolution and many of his other scientific breakthroughs would have been accepted. One specific trait that was very influential to his character and to his success was his truth seeking skills. It was said that Darwin was so absorbed in seeking out the truth for truths sake alone that he had a genuine interest in every detail of new research. He had no personal interest or motive, he really didn't care about money or the fame he specifically devoted his entire life to the advancement of science and the advancement of science alone which I thought was really significant. Another remarkable trait was his kindness. It was said that he had a genuine delight in helping others in their work despite the personal trouble it would cause him. He helped others because he had such a great and generous heart and because of this trait he treated every individual with the same demeanor regardless of age, class, or status. All together as a whole, his simplistic wisdom tied tighter with his kindness and selflessness is what truly made him so lovable and respected by all which was really fascinating to me because I had no idea that it takes these characteristics on top of a passion for the advancement of science to be as successful as he was.
Another thing that I found to be quite significant in this week’s readings was that Darwin was buried in the Abbey at Westminster, this is the burial place of many members of the royal family as well as many famous poets and influential individuals such as Isaac Newton. This goes to show that even though much of Darwin’s discoveries and theories on evolution by natural selection were ignored by the official kingdom when he first published and presented his findings, they were later accepted by the time of his death and he was considered to be one of the most influential and prominent scientists of the time. Many of his contemporaries spoke very highly of Darwin when reflecting on his life, and regarded him as living a successful and scientific life. One that any scientist should strive to live up to. I found this to be highly significant since it ties in with our discussions on achieving a telos in life. Darwin was considered to have achieved the scientific telos and was one of very few men in the history of our race that not only enlarged science but changed it by profoundly modifying the basal conceptions upon which the whole structure rested.
What shocked me about this reading, was that Darwin was originally a predominantly religious person. He reflects on his time aboard the Beagle, in which he got taunted and ridiculed by other men on the voyage for his orthodox views. Darwin is similar to Franklin in regards to questioning certain aspects of his religious beliefs, and this is what eventually led him to start questioning the religion himself. Specifically, Darwin goes on to talk about how the miracles performed and discussed in the New Testament are too incredible to be considered truth with all that society at the time was beginning to learn about the fixed laws of nature. What really shocked me and is quite admirable in my opinion is that Darwin didn't want to give up, he was a very passionate person and looked for many ways in which his religious doctrines could have been proven to be true. However, as he says, “disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete.” The more Darwin looked at the laws of natural philosophy, the more he would be disappointed in regards to religious ideals and beliefs. What I really found interesting was that even though Darwin couldn’t find the rationality and truth behind something, he didn’t completely deny the concept because he realized that just because he couldn’t find the logic behind the religious concept didn’t necessarily mean that it didn’t exist altogether. He kept an open mind about everything, which I believe is a characteristic that is often times left out and forgotten about when we learn about Darwin in early education.
Another thing that really stood out to me about this section is how Darwin was able to connect so many patterns of clues in nature to the process of natural selection. I feel like this in part has to do with his father’s keen ability to attention to detail, a trait that as we discussed on Monday is one that Darwin picked up for himself. It just amazes me that someone at this time is able to connect so many different clues and patterns in nature to something as complex and fascinating as the mechanics behind natural selection. It is mind blowing to imagine how one person was able to provide so many different examples of this process across so many different fields of research such as geology, biology, botany, and anatomy.
One thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was the similar nature in which Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin decided to publish their autobiographies. The main drive that compelled both of them to publish such works was for their children and family to later reflect upon, and because of this both pieces are not formally polished pieces that were thoroughly edited, giving their work’s a naturalness to them. What I liked about this aspect was how brutally honest and open Darwin was in his autobiography, he didn’t try to hide any of his negative qualities. He noted that at one point he was a thief, a liar, and rambunctious. He even shared a story about how he beat a puppy once in order to feel powerful, which is a very strange and cruel thing to admit in a piece that would be made available for not only his family, but also the general public to read and reflect upon.
One thing that I found quite interesting and shocking in the first few chapters of his autobiography was that he was viewed as an average boy with average talents. His father even stated, “you care for nothing but shooting dogs and rat catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and your family.” I found this to be a particularly harsh thing for a father to say about his son. It is also almost comical that someone said this about Charles Darwin, one of the most well-known and eminent scientists to this day. Even though Darwin seemed to be interested in things that his father considered useless such as shooting dogs and rat catching, Darwin expressed certain characteristics of what is considered to be a good scientist even from a young age. Darwin had an innate curiosity, was always intrigued by the outdoors, and had a passion for collecting. I found it especially interesting that he showed a passion for collecting things such as beetles, shells, and coins at such a young age, because I too shared an interest in collecting and would spend a lot of my time collecting seeds from various fruits and vegetables. It was interesting to read that Darwin possessed many characteristics that can be attributed to his later successes at such a young age and that he just needed help in refining and redirecting these traits. This makes me wonder if a lot of people who struggle in our fixed educational system would thrive if given the proper guidance and instruction to help them focus their talents towards something that would be beneficial to them in the real world.