The story of science is endlessly fascinating, but it is rarely told in a way that fully captures its beauty and magic. The “Dear Albert Project” will bring the tale to life with a collection of letters from working scientists to the pioneers of their fields who influenced or inspired them. These brief, colorful, and very human missives will provide unique insights into contemporary research, as well as a glimpse into the often hidden links between scientists from the past and those of today. Selections will be published at DearAlbert.com, a jury of esteemed scientists and science writers — including Steven Pinker, Lee Smolin, Gibor Basri, and Noble Laureate Sir Harold Kroto — will choose a winning letter, which will also be published in a leading popular science periodical. Finally, selected letters will be published in book form with proceeds going to support scientific literacy.
The project was inspired by a playful note that Albert Einstein penned to Isaac Newton. In this spirit, the book will bring together contributors from a cross-section of scientific pursuits – evolutionary biology to engineering, cosmology to chemistry. A NASA engineer will write to Orville Wright, sharing the dazzling advances in flight during the past 100 years; mathematicians will write to Pythagoras and Fermat, revealing the ways in which their ideas have haunted succeeding generations; geneticists will write to Darwin, explaining, among other things, how the discovery of DNA has shaped our understanding of natural selection.
The letters will take the reader on a wide-ranging tour of human knowledge and provide a glimpse into the breadth and dynamism of the scientific pursuit. The conceit of writing to those who lived in the past will prompt contributors to unpack their ideas succinctly, without jargon, and in a manner that will bring the wonder of science directly to a general audience.