The Human Side of Science: Edison and Tesla, Watson and Crick, and Other Personal Stories behind Science's Big Ideas (2016)

Afterword

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Used with permission from Sidney Harris.

After you've lived in a house for a while, you develop a vivid mental picture of where you live. But a curious thing happens if you sit on a neighbor's patio and look back at your house. This new perspective allows you to see your house a bit differently, and your mental image of it gets revised.

So it is with this book. As we authors viewed science from the standpoint of the humanity of its participants, our mental picture of how scientific ideas evolve has changed markedly. In this book, we have chronicled almost four hundred people's interactions over twenty-five hundred years and in dozens of countries of the world. Influenced by person-to-person interactions, these people produced big ideas of science. These interactions were often cooperative, sometimes contentious, and frequently connected, reinforcing the idea of us living on a “small world.” Thanks to the refining power of the scientific method, only those ideas that continued to be supported by physical evidence survived the evaluation process and became truly big ideas.

images

Used with permission from Sidney Harris.

As to the unsolved problems science faces today: dark energy, dark matter, DNA details, the Theory of Everything…“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”1 The next group of Newtons, Einsteins, Teslas, and Hubbles have different challenges, but they, too, will be influenced by human interactions that will continue to be cooperative, contentious, and connected.

How could we expect it to be any different?