Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Weston Favell, England

by PhilipJ on 9 August 2006 the pedant’s answer to Derek’s question of Where Do They Come From?, specifically wondering about Francis Crick. At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me.

For a more serious answer, I think we have to look no further than Derek’s own second paragraph:

There have been any number of scientists perfectly placed to make great discoveries who failed to realize the importance of what they were (or should be) doing. An equal number have had some idea of what the stakes were, but got bogged down in one sort of mistake or another and never reached the heights they could have.

There they are. Everywhere. Scientists are regular people, and even when brilliant, they don’t always reach the right conclusions. There are countless examples: Linus Pauling, who had little trouble predicting the secondary structure of almost all proteins, was unable to predict the structure for DNA. Einstein spent his last years searching for a Theory of Everything, and got nowhere close. Pythagoras couldn’t believe that the square root of two was irrational.

Brilliant scientists are everywhere, but solutions to complicated problems are rare to come across, no matter how smart you are. There is more to problem solving than pure intellect, and it’s been a topic of conversation on science blogs a lot in recent days: science is hard.

  1. Uncle Al    4393 days ago    #

    Albert Szent-György got the 1937 Nobel Prize/Physiology or Medicine for diddling ascorbic acid (Chemistry Prize to Walter Haworth for determining its structure). Szent-György worked through tonnes of cattle adrenals to isolate Vitamin C. He did it in San Deigo, CA. Surrounded by citrus groves. Pookie pookie.

    Discovery is a bitch. We now Officially impress diversity and jackbooted State compassion – anybody can be great if nobody is good. Earned income is redistributed. The reproductive are valued over the productive (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation out to “save” Africa with $70,000 million).

    Impressed stupidity is generally countered by extinction. Modern professional management took over Bell Labs. Subsequent performance analyses indicated the R&D function was more vigorous and more sharply focused. They never discovered anything ever again. Bell Labs to Lucent Technologies to a condo complex.

    When somebody discovers a workable way off this planet one fervently hopes priviledge minorities will inherit the Earth – and Hell with it. The rest of us are going to the stars to discover new stuff.

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