Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Diner Invites - The Scientists

Friday morning NPR ran a story where a reviewer of classical music listed the classical composers he would invite to Thanksgiving dinner if he could.  The premise is it could be anyone from history. He chose to go with all dead composers.  A friend and I have had similar conversations in the past.  Sometimes we'd discuss it in the "any body, ever" scenario.  Sometimes we'd limit it to certain categories.  We usually ran a list of ten.  I'm going to play with this for the next few days until Thanksgiving.  For now I'm going to keep myself to a limit of five people. I think I'll do one grand invite in the "any body, ever" category to end this run.

Proper dinner attire today will be long, white lab coats.  Dinner will be prepared by Bunsen burner.  Today we look at the scientists we (I) want at the table.  Compiling this list my bias was clearly to the physics side of the world. I do get some chemistry and biology in the mix.  I think I'd want each to give a brief synopsis of what he/she worked/works on and what they think is really interesting at the moment. I'd ask a lot of questions and surely reveal my ignorance.  A back and forth between them would probably go way over my head but I'd hope to absorb something.

Today we get three currently living people.

  1. Albert Einstein - The man I quote at the top of my blog clearly gets the first invite.  General and special relativity.  Cosmological Constant (aka dark energy).  The smartest man ever?  Maybe. IIRC, he once said Max Planck was the smartest scientist he knew.
  2. Brian Greene - current researcher into String Theory.  He has written several books and has a series of specials currently airing on NOVA on PBS. I find he can explain the complicated topics in a way that a non-scientist can understand.
  3. Marie Curie - Won Nobels in Physics and Chemistry.  Did seminal research into radioactivity.
  4. György Paál - Led a team that discovered the Universe was expanding at an ever increasing rate.  This led to confirmation of Einstein's Cosmological Constant, an idea Einstein considered his biggest mistake.  To have Gyorgy there to explain it to Einstein... awesome.
  5. James Dewey Watson - I'm way to heavy on the physical sciences.  We need some biological sciences.  James Dewey Watson was 1 of 3 to win a Nobel "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material"

Honorable mentions go to Max Planck - founder of quantum theory, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Nicolaus Copernicus.  I know I'm missing a lot of biological sciences, people I can't name. They probably deserve their own dinner but I only have a so many days before Thanksgiving arrives.


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