Life Lines

Alfred Russel Wallace. Image from: NPR, Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Alfred Russel Wallace. Image from: NPR, Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Darwin is the more famous of the two when it comes to thinking about who came up with the theory of evolution. However, a man named Alfred Russel Wallace co-discovered the theory.

Alfred Wallace died 100 years ago. In honor of his contribution to the theory of evolution, NPR ran a wonderful story about him and his discoveries the other day. Just in case you did not get a chance to hear it, you can either read the transcript or listen to the story here.

Comments

  1. #1 AJ
    May 2, 2013

    Reminds me of the Newton-Leibniz “controversy”. From the PBS specials, it’s my understanding that Newton and Darwin had developed their methods years before their “rivals”, but were in no rush to publish.

    Can’t imagine this happening today, given the amount of competition and the stakes.

    Didn’t Einstein take years to publish his paper on Special Relativity? Surprising that he wasn’t scooped.

  2. #2 AT
    May 8, 2013

    “Can’t imagine this happening today, given the amount of competition and the stakes.”

    Really? I’ve just published my theory of human evolution. Nobody has noticed it so far. I suspect it could take quite a while. (The Structure of Humanity: Arranged marriage systems explain human evolution.)

    Today, Wallace and Einstein wouldn’t be taken seriously. They wouldn’t even get published, particularly in a peer reviewed journal. Qualifications supplanted ideas a long time ago in science.

    Actually, there isn’t any competition for ideas these days. It’s pretty rare anyone comes up with anything.
    Lee Smolin wrote ‘The Trouble with Physics’ to reflect a generation of physicists who had come up with nothing. The same could have been said about evolutionary theorists. A person who came up with a theory today could sit on it for a decade or two, quite easily. Most scientists today are headless chickens in lab coats. Lots of activity, but no ideas.