Far too many scientists who made major contributions to knowledge and human health go unremarked, forgotten save for the occasional postage stamp or Google doodle. So when I was offered the chance to write about a few of the many outstanding scientists who came from Spanish-speaking lands, cultures and ancestors, I was understandably excited…and a little nervous. On the one hand, combining such a varied assemblage of people under one term – especially the political term Hispanic – wasn’t ideal. On the other hand, it gave me the chance to explore, and raise awareness of, a remarkably diverse array of persons, backgrounds and accomplishments. I hope you’ll find their stories as inspiring as I did.
Alfred Nobel and several recipients of his namesake Peace Prize alike contributed to warfare and violence in numerous ways—a fact that some find ironic. Yet, Nobel lived at a time when scientists didn’t consider themselves responsible for how others used their inventions, and he held a view of destructive-weaponry-as-deterrent that presaged the Cold War philosophy of Mutually Assured Destruction, so perhaps there was a method to his M.A.D.-ness. As for the others I discuss in my article below, only history can judge.
Whether you regard golf as the epitome of Zen mind or, as Mark Twain put it, “a good walk spoiled,” you’ve probably wondered where and how such a peculiar pastime originated. Who would devise a sport that “consists of putting little balls into little holes with instruments very ill adapted to [the] purpose,” as one Oxford tutor noted? And furthermore, who thought that an expanse of hummocky, pitted grassland would make an ideal setting for it?
The Scots, that’s who.
Actually, the origins of golf are not quite that cut-and-dried. You might be surprised at who lays claim to the sport’s origin. You might also be astounded at the long history of women and minorities on the links, and some of the historic traditions and great players that have made the game what it is today.
America may be a melting pot, but the result is generally more stew than fondue; for many of us, where we came from—whether by boat or ice bridge—constitutes a significant part of our identity. Beyond whatever social implications it may have, our heritage slumbers within us in ways we don’t fully understand, yet are fascinated by.
It’s no wonder commercial genetic ancestry tests are so appealing. Still, a little caveat emptor is in order: According to an article in the journal Science, consumers who plop down their Benjamins for genetic answers may not be getting what they bargained for.