Sunday, October 6, 2013

Distraction Lists, or: Revolution for All

The Nobel Prizes will start being awarded tomorrow. I'm hoping, this year, the U.S. will boast a Literature Laureate for the first time in twenty years.

Of course, one of the main things the Nobel's are famous for is science. Yesterday, fortuitously, I went to the Boston Museum of Science to see an exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Museum opened in 1951. In the main gallery is a list of luminaries, great names of scientists who changed the world, in bold caps above the visitors below.

I decided to figure out which I was familiar with, and which I still needed to learn about. Who knows if the winners next week will be added to this pantheon.

Hippocrates. Physician. I have read many of his selected works, collected in Volume Ten of the Great Books series, which I own.

Aristotle. Biologist etc. I have read a lot of his works, including his Physics, Parts of Animals, Generation of Animals, On Interpretation, Categories, and Prior Analytics.

Euclid. Geometer. I have read his Elements, in Volume Eleven of the Great Books series, which I own.

Archimedes. I have read many of his works, in Volume Eleven of the Great Books series, which I own.

Galen. I have read his On the Natural Faculties, collected in Volume Ten of the Great Books series, which I own.

Ptolemy. I have read his Almagest.

Copernicus. I have read his On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, in On the Shoulders of Giants, which I own.

Vesalius. I have read his On the Fabric of the Human Body, which I own.

Galileo. I have read his Dialogue on Two World Systems, in On the Shoulders of Giants, which I own.

Kepler. I have read his Harmonies of the Spheres, in On the Shoulders of Giants, which I own and the Epitome, which I also own.

Harvey. I have read his On the Motion of the Heart and Blood.

Boyle. I have yet to read Boyle. His was a British chemist.

Newton. I have read his Principia, in On the Shoulders of Giants, which I own.

Linnaeus. I have yet to read Linnaeus. He was a Swedish naturalist.

Lavoisier. I have read his Elements of Chemistry, which I own.

Laplace. I have yet to read Laplace. He was French mathematician.

Dalton. I have read his New System of Chemistry.

Cuvier. I have yet to read Cuvier. He was a French zoologist.

Faraday. I have read his Forces of Matter.

Lyell. I have yet to read Lyell. He was a British geologist.

Agassiz. I have yet to read Agassiz. He was a Swiss biologist.

Darwin. I have read his The Origin of Species.

Helmholtz. I have yet to read Helmholtz. He was a German physicist.

Pasteur. I have read his The Germ Theory and Its Applications to Medicine and Surgery.

Mendel. I have read his Experiments in Plant Hybridization.

Maxwell. I have read his Dynamical Theory of Electromagnetism.

Gibbs. I have yet to read Gibbs. He was an American physicist and mathematician.

Pavlov. I have yet to read Pavlov. He was a Russian physiologist.

M. Curie. I have read her articles on the discoveries of Polonium and Radium.

Rutherford. I have read his Chemical Nature of Alpha Particles.

Einstein. I have read his Relativity: The Special and General Theory, in On the Shoulders of Giants, which I own.

Bohr. I have read his Atomic Theory and The Description of Nature.

So, all told, I’ve read 23 of 32 scientists or, as Laplace would point out, 71% of what some guys in Boston thought was important in the 1950s.

In Other News

As most of the world has noticed, barring those Amazonian primitives whose lifestyle is looking increasingly attractive, the U.S. government has shut down. This time it seems to be real, not a single day or a couple of days, like most shutdowns, but, hopefully, not a 21-day belly-buster like in 1996.

The day after and of the shutdown there was a flurry of articles and blog posts. Some were humorous, some were scathing, some pointed fingers, some apocalyptic. Writing a post in the deluge seemed unnecessary. It took long enough to sort out which ones were worth reading as it was. But now that we're a week in I'll put forth a couple personal points and recent anecdotes.

Like many Americans, I don't have health care. The policy offered by my work is too expensive. So on Tuesday I went onto the website, was directed to another for my State, filled in my information, and am waiting for the site to fix its bugs so I can get insured. I'm 27, and excited for cheap health care. The Affordable Care Act is not all things to all people, nor did I ever expect it to be. It's a step in the right direction. 'Scumbag' is the word to be used for big employers who fire anyone over the implementation of this Act.

Which brings me to last night and a few months ago. Since 2009 Kickstarter has raised $717 million dollars for various projects. I am responsible for about $100 of that. A few months ago twenty of my hundred bucks went to funding Robert Reich's new documentary, 'Inequality for All', which just opened in select theaters.

This is part of the reason I was in Boston, to see the film I'd helped to create. (The other, and perhaps more important reason, is my mom's birthday.) 'Inequality for All' isn't playing in my state, at any theater. This is a damn shame, because the movie is excellent. If it is in your state, (check the website: go see it. The timing of its release, with the shutdown, couldn't be better. I thoroughly expect it to win Best Documentary at the Oscars, at which point it will hopefully open in more theaters. But, then again, based on last year's predictions for the Nobel Prize winners, I may not be the best at picking awards. For visual culture award predictions you should try my sister's blog:

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