Dear Albert: Letters to Late Scientists

“Dear Newton: Please forgive me; you found the only way which, in your age, was just about possible for a man of highest thought – and creative power.…” – Albert Einstein

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.

 

Latest Blog Posts

    • Winter, 2013: I have been feeling a little creatively deprived in Kiev during my last few visits, so I decided that I would reach out and try to make some connections in the theatrical community here. So I posted a job on eLance (now Upwork), stating that I was looking for…

      Read More

    • A few years back, I was surprised to read this story in my friend Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile. He and I had lots of long talks while traveling in the Middle East and also over plates of pickled vegetables and vodka in Kiev, and so this tale must have popped from my mouth…

      Read More

    • The holiest hill in all the world is the hallowed Holy Hill of Wisconsin. Upon it stands the famed Shrine of Mary, Mother of God. The twin towers of this cathedral are visible for miles around, and the devout flock there to admire the holiness of the church and the…

      Read More

    • I’m looking to hire someone with strong Final Cut Pro X and Mac systems skills to help edit a documentary. The film is about a secret Soviet antenna from the Cold War — the Russian Woodpecker — and one man’s attempt to understand its link to the Chernobyl disaster and…

      Read More

    • In The Fear of Insignificance, psychotherapist Carlo Strenger provides a compelling and far-reaching account of the illnesses of modern life. He shows how the human predicament described by Ernest Becker forty years ago has been compounded by technology, globalization, and the ascendance of escapist philosophies that militate against living an…

      Read More

    • Read More

    • “Books lift us out of the smallness of the present and into history, out of the smallness of ourselves and into humanity.” – Brian Jay Stanley Ten Great Books: – The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker taught me why human individuals act and feel the way we do. – Escape from…

      Read More

    • The day I received my driver’s license, in the summer of 1985, I immediately set out on a pilgrimage I had been dreaming of for a long time: a visit to Walden Pond. I wanted to walk the same woods, amble from Thoreau’s cabin to the cool edge of the…

      Read More

    •   I’m planning a philosophical conclave in Venice on December 13th – 20th. Each morning will start with Italian lessons for those who want them, from 9am – 11am, run by a local. During lunch, we will have visiting scholars in art, philosophy, and history. Afternoons are for wandering and shivering…

      Read More

    • On a recent stay in Kiev, I had an apartment near the top of Andrew’s Descent. St. Andrew’s dazzling green and white cupolas filled one window and another looked out over the neighborhood of Podil, the Dnieper, and beyond. While gazing across the river, I noticed a large hill nestled…

      Read More

Twitter Updates