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Brief Scientific Autobiography - Comments

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 1 by mordacious1

Hmm...I'll have to print this off for my collection, or purchase the book.

What? No pictures in khaki shorts through the jungles of Empire?

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 20:38:00 UTC | #422911

j.mills's Avatar Comment 2 by j.mills

Crikey! Big piece. Saved that one to read At Leisure. Bound to be fun though. :)

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 21:12:00 UTC | #422920

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 3 by SaintStephen

2. Comment #441471 by j.mills on December 12, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Saved that one to read At Leisure.
Yup. After dinner. It will be just like a triple-scoop of Häagen-Dazs® chocolate ice cream slathered in hot fudge sauce. A few Reese's Pieces and Hershey Bar fragments thrown in for good measure, maybe.

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 22:05:00 UTC | #422933

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 4 by RichardofYork

Bloody Imperialist ;)

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 22:36:00 UTC | #422940

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 5 by helen sotiriadis

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 22:47:00 UTC | #422943

j.mills's Avatar Comment 6 by j.mills

Incidentally, here's the book this is from:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leaders-Animal-Behaviour-Second-Generation/dp/0521741297



(That bloomin' image tag never works first time!)

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 23:02:00 UTC | #422950

Squigit's Avatar Comment 7 by Squigit

Oh, my! That is a long read! Well, I have one evening to do as I please before the marathon study session I have planned for tomorrow before finals on Monday....it'll be fun!

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 23:10:00 UTC | #422954

A's Avatar Comment 8 by A

: (

Lucky bastard.

To the 'poor' these kinds of articles never resonate at all well.

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 23:21:00 UTC | #422959

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 9 by NewEnglandBob

The first five pages that I read are marvelous. The rest is saved for later. Marvelous writing and a marvelous childhood. Color me envious.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 00:00:00 UTC | #422965

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 10 by Sally Luxmoore

Wow. It was great to read this and really fascinating.
Who knows whether Richard will ever go on to write a full autobiography; if he doesn't, this will at least partly satisfy the hunger for one.
I was intrigued to hear about the years at Berkeley and the similarities with David Lodge's Changing Places!
As a great admirer of The Ancestor's Tale, I feel positively guilty at the tremendous effort it took Richard to write it. It is a really brilliant achievement and together with The Greatest Show on Earth (not mentioned in this piece) broke into new grounds of knowledge for me, for which I am hugely grateful.
Thanks for 'sharing', Richard!

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 00:04:00 UTC | #422966

Clairebear's Avatar Comment 11 by Clairebear

Wow, I'm surprised to hear Richard wasn't a pro at biology (at first). That's reassuring for me... I always feel bad when I don't do well. Totally agree about teachers - too much focus put on exams these days. :)

I really do hope Richard will write a full autobiography, I'd love to read it.

Gonna finish reading now... listening to TGSOE as I'm reading, so I'm concentrating on two things at once.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 00:27:00 UTC | #422969

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 12 by Steve Zara

Oh dear. I'm probably going to be "controversial" again. But I have to say that I just don't care about this autobiography. Richard is one of my scientific heroes. But I have no interest at all in his private life. Why should I? I am only interested in his ideas, and his amazing ability to promote and write about science.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 01:40:00 UTC | #422979

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 13 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Funny, I was just thinking about this book today and how I intended to check it out of the library to read this chapter. No need to, now! I'll just download and read the document that's here. I'm sure it'll be great!

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 01:52:00 UTC | #422980

whatwoulddawkinsdo's Avatar Comment 14 by whatwoulddawkinsdo

I'd buy Dawkins auto-bio if he wrote one!!!

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 01:53:00 UTC | #422981

j.mills's Avatar Comment 15 by j.mills

You are of course entitled to be uninterested, Steve, but the same reasoning dismisses the entire genre of autobiography. Do you see nothing of importance in any memoir? Anne Frank? Confessions Of An Opium-Eater? Mein Kampf? We can learn about stuff from an autobiography just as we can from a science or history book, or a novel. No?

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:16:00 UTC | #422992

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 16 by Bonzai

I am with Steve on this one. It is about his ideas, not the man.

j.mills

You are of course entitled to be uninterested, Steve, but the same reasoning dismisses the entire genre of autobiography. Do you see nothing of importance in any memoir? Anne Frank? Confessions Of An Opium-Eater? Mein Kampf? We can learn about stuff from an autobiography just as we can from a science or history book, or a novel. No?


Well some people interest us because of their extraordinary life experience, some interest us because of their ideas. For the first group of people there is indeed a point in reading about their lives, but I think Dawkins firmly belongs in the second group.

For this reason I never read biographies of mathematicians and scientists. They tend to lead rather boring and uneventful lives (Galois was definitely a rare exception. I will probably read Andrew Hodge's biography for Alan Turing if I have some time to idle about, that does strike me as a bit more interesting. Feynman might be interesting, but from what I know probably not interesting enough for me to spend time reading his biography)

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:30:00 UTC | #422994

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 17 by mordacious1

12. Comment #441531 by Steve Zara

Your choice of course, some people just aren't interested in the "behind the scenes" stuff. But I've been re-reading "On the Origin of Species" lately and I have to say that knowing more about Darwin's personal life, his struggles with his wife's belief for example, gives me more of an insight into why he wrote the way he did. If you think scientists always do science in a vacuum, you'd be wrong. Who influenced the writing (peers), what else was known at the time a particular bit of science was done, how to this person get in a position to make such and such discovery, etc.? It's all interesting to me. How did Darwin end up on the HMS Beagle? Check out this link:

http://www.aboutdarwin.com/voyage/voyage02.html

All cool stuff, IMHO.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:34:00 UTC | #422995

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 18 by Bonzai

Actually I don't care about Darwin's life either. You can learn a lot more about evolution by reading any decent modern textbook (and RD's books)than reading "the origin". Darwin did provide the original insights but the scope and depth of the theory of evolution have been greatly expanded and enhanced since his time. 'The origin' is only of historical interest as far as I am concerned.

I don't learn physics by reading Newton's manuscripts. But Newton's biography is probably interesting for those who want to study the psychology of creativity and insanity.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:36:00 UTC | #422996

Haakon's Avatar Comment 19 by Haakon

One thing that strikes me is the failed attempt for a musical carrer. If Richard had tried to at least partially continue with music, he could have been the first Rock'n Roll biologist. Considering the original meaning of Rock'n Roll it would have been biologically appropriate. :P

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:41:00 UTC | #422997

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 20 by SaintStephen

6. Comment #441501 by j.mills on December 12, 2009 at 11:02 pm

(That bloomin' image tag never works first time!)
The way I get around this is as follows:

1) Type in (or paste in) the text of your post (and HTML tags, if any) into the Comment Box.
2) Click your cursor inside the box, as if you were going to start an edit. It doesn't matter where.
3) Do a CTRL-A to select the entire contents inside the Comment Box. Everything should be highlighted.
4) Now do a CTRL-C to copy the contents of your post to the clipboard.
5) Go ahead and click the Submit button to enter your post, as usual.
6) Hit the Reload Comments button and find your post. Now click Edit as if you were going to edit your post.
7) Click your cursor once again inside the Comment Box, and select the entire contents once again with CTRL-A.
8) Now do an immediate CTRL-V to paste in the original contents of your post back into the Comment Box.
9) Click Submit once again, and everything should be hunky-dory.

Yes, it's weird, but it works very well. It is essentially a double post, without changing anything. With a little practice, it will become almost second nature, and it is quite fast. Finding your original post may be the most difficult part. Assuming you had the HTML tags correct in the first place, you won't have to edit anything manually.

Sometimes the "double-quote" characters that delimit the URL text can screw things up, as well. Apparently a double quote is NOT just a double quote -- there are multiple versions. I often copy in text from MS Word and have to manually change the double-quote chars to make the link work. I see lots of people having this problem. When an image doesn't appear, even if you think you have the HTML syntax correct, it may help to check the double-quote chars.

And since I've already gone rogue and irreversibly and catastrophically derailed this thread with this unsightly OT comment, I will only be crying a few more tears into the river of destruction by including one more little piece of HTML wisdom, in the form of a picture:

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:44:00 UTC | #422998

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 21 by Bonzai

Haakon

If Richard had tried to at least partially continue with music, he could have been the first Rock'n Roll biologist.


There is a rock'n roll biologist, ok, actually a punk rock biologist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Graffin

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:48:00 UTC | #422999

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 22 by Bonzai

I actually find the interest in Dawkins' personal life rather unhealthy. It is like turning the guy into some kind of idol.

Edited The other thing is we tend to read biographies only of those who are already dead as the genre is primarily historical. An exception would be show business personalities and celebrities for whom the interest was largely voyeuristic.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 03:56:00 UTC | #423000

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 23 by Twatsworth

Steve Zara,

Oh dear. I'm probably going to be "controversial" again. But I have to say that I just don't care about this autobiography. Richard is one of my scientific heroes. But I have no interest at all in his private life. Why should I£ I am only interested in his ideas, and his amazing ability to promote and write about science.
Oh, put a sock in it, already, you unutterably pompous ass. What a ridiculous comment. It is a scientific autobiography, not a personal autobiograpy, and in any case, on Planet Earth autobiography happens to be quite popular. Generally, people happen to be interested in people. An entirely natural state of affairs, and only blowhards like you -- who have nothing better to do than while away the hours trying to generate intellectual disagreement from a vacuum -- would deny it.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 04:01:00 UTC | #423001

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 24 by mordacious1

I read Feynman's semi-autobiographical books "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" and found them quite enjoyable. I'm not saying that everyone would or should feel the same, but I think that if you like physics and haven't read those books, you're missing out on some good reading.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 04:12:00 UTC | #423006

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 25 by Enlightenme..

Steve Z.
"But I have no interest at all in his private life."

I've read the first five pages so far, Steve, and recommend your giving it a go.

It's a fascinating insight into his journey into academic life, from his own perspective, and from scrolling down and stopping at other points, I look forward to finishing it.

It's not an exposé in the daily mirror!

------------

Bonzai:
"For this reason I never read biographies of mathematicians and scientists."

I wouldn't have chosen it myself, but someone gave me a copy of 'A Beautiful Mind' - very different from the film - a harrowing, but still fascinating insight into the mental torments that can sometimes accompany genius, a very thoroughly researched and dedicated work.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 04:12:00 UTC | #423007

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 26 by SaintStephen

23. Comment #441553 by Twatsworth on December 13, 2009 at 4:01 am

I, too, am amazed at both Zara's and Bonzai's trite and completely selfish comments. If anything should be considered spam on RD.net, it's asinine ejaculations like these.

Good on you, Twatsworth.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 04:16:00 UTC | #423008

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 27 by SaintStephen

25. Comment #441559 by Enlightenme.. on December 13, 2009 at 4:12 am

someone gave me a copy of 'A Beautiful Mind' - very different from the film...
It was perhaps the first time I ever enjoyed both a book, and a movie based on the book, which were so different from one another. John Nash was a unique individual. Jennifer Connelly ain't so bad, either.

16. Comment #441546 by Bonzai on December 13, 2009 at 3:30 am
They tend to lead rather boring and uneventful lives (Galois was definitely a rare exception.)
This is a strange comment, and patently false, of course. Galois lived only 21 years on the planet, before getting killed in some kind of political (or personal) vendetta. Despite his extraordinary contributions, I'd have to say: not that interesting.

E.T. Bell's Men of Mathematics is a fascinating read. I would rank Archimedes WAY above Galois. Newton's and Gauss's lives, along with perhaps Abel's and Fermat's and Hamilton's, are also more interesting.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 05:12:00 UTC | #423015

njwong's Avatar Comment 28 by njwong

Very coincidentally, I just downloaded a free epub book: "The Autobiography of Charles Darwin" written by Darwin himself, and started reading it yesterday:

http://www.epubbooks.com/books/57/autobiography-of-charles-darwin

Anyway, I like reading autobiographies. It is like reading history, which is one of my favourite subjects (even more so than biology).

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 06:10:00 UTC | #423022

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 29 by Lisa Bauer

I liked this very much, though I do have to agree with A a bit ("To the 'poor' these kinds of articles never resonate at all well.") I mean, I can't help but wonder if the story would have been different had Richard been born in a working-class family or one that took no interest in intellectual pursuits.

Then again, I suppose I'm just jealous...I wish I had an intellectual, highly educated family!

To be honest, I'm always a bit puzzled when people insist that they have no interest whatever in learning about the lives of people they admire or at least have some respect for. To me that's the most interesting part of them, no matter how "boring" or "conventional" it is, but then I always did love history and how even small things can have enormous repercussions (if circumstances had been a bit different, Darwin would never have gone on the Beagle...and how would that have effected the theory of evolution?)

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 06:23:00 UTC | #423024

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 30 by SaintStephen

29. Comment #441578 by Lisa Bauer on December 13, 2009 at 6:23 am

Hi Lisa! Any suggestions on how to find a copy of Free Inquiry magazine? I went to Border's and Barnes & Noble today in search of it, because I wanted to read your 2nd installment.

Or... am I being foolish because Free Inquiry is actually an online mag? I haven't bothered to Google because it's SO much more pleasurable to just bother YOU about it.

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 06:31:00 UTC | #423025