Celebrity Deathmatch: Einstein vs Darwin

By LousyNick

Original link: https://www.storiesspace.com/stories/musings/celebrity-deathmatch-einstein-vs-darwin.aspx

Tags: science, celebrities, battle

Added: 12 Feb 2016 Views: 722 Avg Score: 5

Einstein. Darwin. Who’s the bestest scientist of them all? Join us for the ultimate smackdown!

Happy Darwin Day, folks!

On this day, 217 years ago, one Charles Darwin was born. You may have heard of him. He wrote this little book that totally changed the way we approach biology and even the way we see the world, and spent decades championing the notion of descent with modification. Even if you don’t agree with his ideas (as is the way of science, many of them are naturally outdated, though the core remains), you know who he is.

But a young upstart named Albert Einstein is angling to steal his Darwin Day thunder. You may have heard of this guy – he’s done some good work….and he continues to do so, even though he’s no longer with us. Gravitational waves have been all the rage over the internet since their detection yesterday (just google “LIGO” and prepare to be amazed)…to such an extent that Darwin may be forgotten on his own day.

So to set things straight, I figured it was high time we finally figured out who deserves the title of Scientist Supreme*. It’s a fight to the finish between two of the all-time greats of science! Without further ado, I present to you the contestants…

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Brief Bio: While working as a patent clerk, Al Einstein started basically recreating physics from the ground up, utterly trashing Newton’s common sense (sort of) physical laws in favour of a universe where light is both a particle and a wave, matter and energy are merely different aspects of the same thing, time is just another dimension, light travels at a constant speed regardless of your movement relative to it, and gravity is less like an all-purpose magnetism-like attractive force, and more like a bowling ball on a well-trimmed lawn**.
Known for: Special and General Relativity, the photonic model of light, generally making physics incomprehensible to the layperson
Hairstyle: One of the kewlest do’s ever to see the light of day, and a model of efficiency – no cutting, no brushing, just go wild. Ah, those were the days…
Quote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Brief Bio: Chuck Darwin started off as a spoilt rich kid with no direction in life, but a passion for nature. After a five-year ocean cruise, he came back and became the greatest biologist ever, publishing On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (and that’s not even including the sub-title!) in 1859, which drew together lots of evidence into a theoretical framework that made evolution a respectable science, and going on to write a bunch of other books, all of them bestsellers, and all of them providing incredible contributions to biology. Spent some eight years looking at barnacles under a microscope. Now that’s dedication!
Known for: Evolution, Natural Selection, Sexual Selection, putting biology on good theoretical footing
Hairstyle: Scarily long beard, general nineteenth-century gentlemanly style (i.e. bad), mutton chops of note
Quote: “How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!”

Let’s get ready to ruuuuummmmbbbblllleee!

WINNER: Damn, this is a tough call.

Einstein could take it for mathematical skills and the ability to think so far out of the ordinary that he’s become the very poster child of the term “genius”. But Darwin did so much *more* top-quality field-transforming work – and real work, with real experiments and stuff – over the course of a lifetime in biology that even now we can only marvel at it. Einstein’s work underlies much of the technology we take for granted, and without which our society would look very different. But Darwin actually succeeded in unifying biology, something Al failed to do for physics. Chuck changed the way we look at the living world. Einstein changed the way we look at the universe.

I’m really tempted to make it a tie, but the gods of battle demand a victor, so I’ll give it to…Einstein, cos he strikes me as the kinda guy who’d go off and make equations that would lead to the development of really big bombs if I didn’t, and cos he had a really good day yesterday.

But next year, the crown is totally going back to Chuck!

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Okay, now for the more important question: who would’ve won if it had all come down to fisticuffs? (WARNING: utter lack of factual or even relevant content ahead. If you’re looking for serious analysis, look elsewhere, you philistine.)

Al “The Bomb” Einstein
Height: 5′5″
Weight: 150lbs
Reach: 182″
Frustration Factor: Spent the last decades of his life fighting a losing battle against a science he had helped initiate, and failing at the one thing he wanted most. Shades of Doctor Frankenstein…
Skillz: Married twice, but got together with plenty women in his day. Had some kids, too.
Crew: Physicists. Spend a lot of time playing with stuff indoors. Tend to be pale and like playing with machines and scribbling on blackboards.
Handicap: German accent.
Quote: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.”

Chuck “Survival Of The Fittest” Darwin
Height: 6′2″
Weight: 190lbs
Reach: 214″
Frustration Factor: Hardly anybody accepted his natural selection idea that he’d spent decades refining. Herbert Spencer hijacked his ideas. Alfred Russel Wallace turned his back on him. They shot his dog and now he’s out for revenge…
Skillz: Dude had like a dozen kids (and that with only one wife). Nuff said.
Crew: Biologists, baby. Hardened folk of the outdoors that anybody would be proud to have involved in the production of their offspring. Did I mention I was a biologist?
Handicap: Flatulence. I kid you not.
Quote: “An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.”

WINNER: In a sudden reversal of fortune, Darwin takes the crown! The man’s still fighting half the damn world and he’s been dead for over a century. They don’t make ‘em tougher than that. Also, I heard he used to carry a really big walking stick.

* Not an actual title. Al did win a Nobel, though…but not for relativity. He got it for his photon work, which led to quantum theory, which Einstein really didn’t like at all. That’s gotta sting a bit…

** If that lawn were made out of some kind of material that could have a wavelike motion, and also the bowling ball was bouncing up and down, and…you know what? Maybe gravity’s more like a bowling ball on a trampoline. Or corn starch. Man, metaphors are hard…

NOTE: The pics used for the header come from Wikipedia - Al can be seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Albert_Einstein_violin.jpg and Darwin over at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_Robert_Darwin_by_John_Collier.jpg .