My most personal post yet.
April 1955, the world expirienced a great loss. The death of Albert Einstein. When I was a child, as I have written many times before. I was the odd ball, the one that would run around, stare at stars and think of ways to calculate their velocity. While other girls spent hours on the phone, I would take it apart and try to figure out how it works and perhaps modify it (it would lead most often to electrocutions and flawed wiring) but it didn’t stop me.
When I started grade school I would be called Einstein. Partly because I would give strange answers that would be right, partly because I would sit by his poster in chem class and we’d have the same hairdo. I would feel comfort by his picture, two oddballs, with our heads wrapped around the universe and our shoes untied and filthy shoestrings from tripping everywhere.
Right about the time Albert took his last breath, a young unwed grad student held her son, asking herself what future she’d have, what future he’d have, wishing for the best, risking the worst. That little boy, grew up to be one of the brightest minds of our times, inspiring millions and changing the world with his beautiful design, his name was Steve Jobs. As he now has taken his last breath, somewhere out there, is a little girl or boy, facing his or her first obstacles to overcome. They are not another Jobs, not another Einstein, but another mind to inspire us to turn the course of the planet for the better.
Because it is not what Mr Jobs or Dr Einstein did that will remain in time, it is what they made us do that is the essential. For the thousands of people that added to the cure of diseases, the bricks of a beautiful building the engines to new cars won’t be tweeted about when they’re (we’re) gone. But it doesn’t make us any less important, and the existence of visionaries makes us realise that we need them to show us the bigger picture we’re working for.
I never got to thank Einstein, or Jobs for that matter. But I would like to take inspiration in today and thank scientist who’s consciousness is still in the realm, who inspire me to go to work every day, ask tough questions and try to make the world a better place as a scientist. You see, I started off as a child war refugee, with seemingly everything against me, but I had two things that gave me an edge, two loving encouraging parents, and role models who thought me that its ok to think outside the box.
The first thanks go out to Kevin Warwick. When I was 11, I wrote a book, with a blueprint of the first cyborg. Even in my saddest hours I would take that little blue notebook out and stare at my creation and hope that one day I could make that cyborg, or at least meet him. At the age of 18, when figuring out what to do in life, I was faced with the research of one bright and amazing scientist, who pushed me to see what I had lost the track of; Science can be fun! Science does not entail labcoats and your dreams can come true. Even if someone else finishes them! A whole post will be about Kevin in the near future. A while back I wrote Kevin about using some of his slides for a presentation, and not only did this busy celebrity scientist write back, he encouraged me, gave me additional private pics of his project and took his time to correspond. So, thank you Kevin, for being a visionary, for inspiring me whenever I start doubting a world without cyborgs.
Another person is Marie Åsberg, who I came in contact with while writing my under-graduate thesis. I followed her work carefully and was amazed; she became the role model I needed to fight for my place in an ivy league medical academy. I had the privilege to thank her in person while she was my professor (for one week) and when I was boggled by what came first experience or genetics she quoted Harry Potter’s Luna “a circle has neither a beginning nor an end” and I keep that in mind forever. So thank you Marie, for being a young woman’s inspiration to fight against all odds, and for being a brilliant scientist.
So don’t forget to thank those that inspire you, and nourish your curiosity. Before it is too late. Because, as Steve once pointed out
“But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” [Wired, February 1996]
Rest in peace Mr Jobs, your ideas won’t, I can ensure you.