Sep. 10, 2000
The Sun Rising
Broadcast date: SUNDAY, 10 September 2000Poem: "The Sun Rising," by John Donne.]
It's the birthday in New York City, 1941, of Stephen Jay Gould, who has taught paleontology and zoology at Harvard University since the late1960s, and, along the way, has published eight essay collections, each one subtitled, Reflections in Natural History. These are books of science written for lay people, and have won him The National Book Award, The National Book Critics Circle Award, and others. Gould's main work is noting how oddities in the natural world serve as historical evidence that evolution is an actual process, that it's real. For instance, his 1981 book, The Panda's Thumb, makes the case by describing the odd thumb of the panda "which isn't really a thumb at all, but an enlarged wristbone that lets the panda strip leaves from bamboo shoots." His best known book is The Mismeasure of Man (1981), where he focuses on the development of IQ testing, and debunks scientists who claim to measure human intelligence objectively. In Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms he said,
"All great science, indeed all fruitful thinking, must occur in a social and intellectual context--and contexts are just as likely to promote insight as to constrain thought."
It's poet Mary Oliver's birthday today in Cleveland, born in 1935, winner of 1984's Pulitzer Prize for her collection, American Primitive, and the National Book Award in 1992, for her New and Selected Poems, in which she wrote: "When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®