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More evidence for collaborative power…..Einstein, Planck et al

March 13, 2012

A discussion was started by Julian Summerhayes

Collaboration is key to success (in any sector)

Further evidence that supports the fact that Collaboration is the key

From an article in The Guardian written by Ian McEwan


A short excerpt here


Einstein, another great creator, could not have begun his special theory of relativity  without the benefit of countless others, including Hendrik Lorentz and Max Planck. He was entirely dependent on mathematicians to give expression to his ideas. (Newton’s much-cited claim to have stood on the shoulders of giants was inverted some years ago to illustrate the potency of predecessors in science: “If I have seen less far than others, it was because giants were standing on my shoulders.”)


Given the tools that were available to scientists in the mid-20th century, including x-ray crystallography, and given the suppositions that were in the air, and the different groups that were working in this field, DNA would have been described sooner or later by someone or other. It should hardly matter then, in the realms of pure rationality and scientific advance who actually got there first. If it had been Linus Pauling  and not Crick and Watson , what difference would it have made in the sum of things? But what a difference being ahead by a few months made to the lives of Crick and Watson.

In terms of the general good, can it matter whether Joseph Priestly  orAntoine Lavoisier  discovered oxygen, or whether Isaac Newton orGottfried Leibniz  devised the calculus?

Consider another celebrated moment of priority-anxiety. It came at the end of a 10-year process during which Einstein pursued the ambitious project of “generalising” his special theory of relativity, formulated in 1905. As his thinking developed in the years after its publication, he predicted that light would be influenced by gravitation. His biographer Walter Isaacson points out that Einstein’s success thus far had “been based on his special talent for sniffing out the underlying physical principles of nature”, leaving to others the more mundane task of providing the best mathematical expression. “But,” as Isaacson notes, “by 1912 Einstein had come to appreciate that maths could be a tool for discovering – and not merely describing – nature’s laws.”



There has been by far the most comments made for any discussion in the BNSW Group on Linkedin

Seeing the way in which the conversation – collaboration – has developed made me think of a book that I am currently reading – One on One by Craig Brown.
Quoting Harper Collins – “101 chance meetings, juxtaposing the famous and the infamous, the artistic and the philistine, the pompous and the comical, the snobbish and the vulgar, each 1,001 words long, and with a time span stretching from the 19th century to the 21st.

Life is made up of individuals meeting one another. They speak, or don’t speak. They get on, or don’t get on. They make agreements, which they either hold to or ignore. They laugh, they cry, they are excited, they are indifferent, they share secrets, they say, “How do you do?” Often it is the most fleeting of meetings that, in the fullness of time, turn out to be the most noteworthy”

‘One on One’ examines the curious nature of different types of meeting, from the oddity of encounters with the Royal Family (who start giggling during a recital by TS Eliot) to those often perilous meetings between old and young (Mark Twain terrifying Rudyard Kipling) and between young and old (the 23-year-old Sarah Miles having her leg squeezed by the nonagenarian Bertrand Russell), to contemporary random encounters (George Galloway meeting Michael Barrymore on Celebrity Big Brother).

Craig Brown: Memorable meetings

It takes only three handshakes to get from Rasputin to Paul McCartney. Craig Brown on how a series of memorable meetings led him to construct a daisy-chain of celebrity encounters..

Full article


Most assassins are notably poor at networking, and so are not connected to anyone illustrious. I failed in my dogged attempt to link Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth  (a well-known actor in his day) with Oscar Wilde (perhaps via the playwright Dion Boucicault ), and spent a fruitless week trying to establish a claim I had read that Jack Ruby , the assassin of Lee Harvey Oswald, had once thrown Miles Davis out of his nightclub for urinating onstage. So the tried-and-tested Felix Youssoupoff proved a godsend, and the chain of Rasputin-Youssoupoff-Coward-McCartney held firm.

I tried to capture the extraordinary variety of ways in which humans spark off one another, the curious means by which chance meetings – in lifts or in urinals, on golf courses or on cruise ships – illuminate the essential fluidity of our personalities, our stubborn refusal to jettison any of the characters we keep in reserve. And there is something almost mystical about the daisy chains we unconsciously join the moment we encounter a stranger. Or sometimes consciously: “When Arthur Miller shook my hand,” Barry Humphries recently recalled, “I could only think that this was the hand that had once….

Full article

Make your meetings memorable by coming along to a Business Network SW event

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