Monday, October 17, 2016

Blog 12

After reading chapters nine through twelve of a feeling for the organism, I have a few thoughts.  I found her social isolation following her failed scientific talks to be interesting.  I do not believe that there has been a scientist we have read about yet that has done something similar.  This retreat to McClintock’s research, helped her gather more information and strengthen her idea about transposition.  But once she had spent too much time in isolation, it must have become even more difficult to portray her ideas.  Talking with other scientists often helps a scientist’s research, although this may have not helped McClintock because she was so far above everyone else’s thinking at the time, it may have helped her to slowly integrate her ideas into the scientific community. 
                Other scientists, like Darwin struggled to have their ideas accepted, but for different reasons perhaps.  Darwin’s ideas were resisted because of the church, and I believe that McClintock’s ideas were resisted because of how the scientific community is set up.  McClintock, in order to get her ideas accepted, had to make her research easy enough for the common conference goer to understand.  A big part of science is the presentation of ideas, and how a scientist explains their work, and it is very important to do so, however, it may be detrimental in some cases.  McClintock could not use simple enough terms to explain her research.  Only a few other scientists could understand what she was doing, but the vast majority who could not, caused the lack of acceptance of her work.  I believe that scientists and research cannot be judged by people who have no understanding of the subject.  People with understanding enough, who can bridge the gap, should do so.  I believe this would help with cases similar to McClintock’s.

                Also, I believe that McClintock showed a lot of dedication to her research in genetics, even going as far as saying she had the “Feeling for the Organism.”  The idea that in order to truly understand, a scientist has to be completely open and understanding of every part of what they are studying is a little too much.  I believe that a scientist can be successful and not be very interested in their work, but just do really good research, but having the “Feeling for the Organism” can only help to increase how well they understand their work.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blog 11

When reading chapters five through eight of the feeling for the organism, I found McClintock’s attitude very interesting.  McClintock obviously shows emotion regarding her work.  She is very passionate about finding the right answers to the questions she is asking. McClintock was contacted by George Beadle to visit his lab at Stanford.  After McClintock agreed to visit Stanford, she helped research on Neurospora.  Beadle was stuck so McClintock attempted to get the small chromosomes, however she kept getting it wrong.  She said that she went for a walk to take a break and sat under a group of trees.  While she was there McClintock shed some tears, and back to the lab.  This obviously shows a sign of passion for her work.  Any scientist that get upset enough over their work that they show their emotions that way are passionate about their work.  Passion is one of the key character traits to being a successful scientist, and I believe this is one reason that McClintock was so successful.
            McClintock’s struggle with funding, job placement and fear of being locked into a position is very relatable compared to many of the other scientists talked about in class.  She is from a different time period than scientists like Darwin, who didn’t necessarily worry about money.  I would like to see, given a secure economic place, and job placement, if McClintock’s findings would have been even more numerous than they already are.

Her attention to detail also stood out to me.  McClintock refused to delegate her more mundane work to assistants because she did not want any observation to be missed.  I believe this detail oriented mindset is an essential trait of a good scientist.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Blog 10

When reading The Feeling for the Organism, a few things stood out to me.  Barbara McClintock was an avid reader of the Comptes Rendus journal, and she read Monod and Jacob’s paper in the late nineteen sixties.  McClintock had been trying to get others interested in her theories regarding genetics and “controlling elements.”  She contacted Jacob and Monod, and sent them her own paper.  I believe this shows one of the traits that scientists must have in order to be successful.
Other famous and successful scientists, like Charles Darwin, are able to work with their peers well and communicate their findings in a way that is easy to understand.  McClintock showed her ability to work with other scientists when she contacted Jacob and Monod.  Even though many scientists prefer to work in isolation, like Barbara McClintock reportedly did, in order to be a great scientist, one must be able to work effectively with others.  The collaboration between scientists often contributes to their success.

This type of collaboration helped famous scientists like Darwin.  Alfred Wallace’s findings help push Darwin to publish his book on natural selection and helped with the public acceptance of the idea.  I am sure that the collaboration with Jacobs and Monod helped McClintock develop her findings and her ability to communicate them to others.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

After reading chapter four, attentiveness and the love of nature, I have a few thoughts on some of the points made.  I appreciated the points made specifically in opposition to the stereotypes held by society about scientists.  Scientists are not completely cold hearted and unemotional, because there is a reason that a scientist chooses to study a specific question about the universe.  Scientists enter the field because of the passion for the work that they are doing, and the drive to uncover new truths about the world.
In class, we discussed the very issue of what the central driving focus of science is, and we came to the conclusion that it is to discover new truths about the world.  In this chapter, it is argued that in order to observe the most information possible, and in my opinion uncover the most truths about the world, a scientist has to be passionate and loving of her work.  I agree with this, but I also believe that when it comes to the act of gathering data and recording the observations, a scientist has to push away their emotions.
A scientist can be extremely passionate and emotional about their work and still be completely unemotional when collecting data.  I believe that allowing one’s emotions to be active during this stage can lead to unintentional consequences, e.g. exaggerating effects.

After reading Darwin’s obituaries, I read an obituary of George Washington Carver. I believe that the obituary did a good job giving Carver credit for the accomplishes he had throughout his life. However, I would have liked to see how his obituary would have been written today, due to the discrimination and oppression that was in place at the time.  I would be interested to see if the detail or accomplishments written about would be changed.