Climbing the Shoulders of Giants

image [CC BY-NC 2.5] 2015 by Matt Might in “The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.

Standing on the shoulders of giants. This phrase is most commonly known from Issac Newton who, in writing a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, wrote “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” He means that his contributions to the world of science and philosophy do not stem from his mind alone, but from the collective knowledge of all his predecessors giving him a jumping-off point into the unknown. As someone whose job it is to learn about these great people and their contributions, it is easy to lose sight of what it really means to learn something. I have spent my entire school career learning things that have already been known, being fed information by someone who knows everything I need to know. Science labs consist of written-out procedures with predicted outcomes, and every book has had its meaning broken apart and pulverized by people before you. Seldom do I get the chance to “To converse with the greats by trying their blindfolds on,” to feel what the greats felt probing into a world unknown. Many people seldom get the chance to discover something new. I hope someday in my life I will get that chance. Whether or not I will, I don’t know.



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