Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #165

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #165

… “So now I won’t know anybody,” Alpha complains, aware that he already stands out on the Tufts University campus, like a wart on Mona Lisa’s nose…

“Don’t play that race excuse in my around me, Campbell. Besides, if that were the case, the last case I take at Beacon Hill would be Campbell vs. B & O Railroad!”

It took a while for the subtle hint to sink in.Bullitin Board-001

“Last case? What are you talkin’ bout, James.”

“I have given my notice to the partners; I am leaving Boston for a nonexistent practice in Tallahassee. Heck, I was just above the janitor on the list of partners, staring five Hamilton bottoms right in the face, so-to-speak. Father has told me that most of the lawyers in Tallahassee are state legislators. Nobody there to deed land or bring suit against those mad motorcar drivers. Do you know that more people died from crashes last year than in the entire Spanish-American War?

   “And we miss the panhandle.” He gathers in Abbey’s hand. Boston is crowded and dirty, as are most cities in the Northern Colonies.

   “And nobody knows anyone. There isn’t anyone like crazy old Edna Finkle around. Up here, people like that are put into what they call a sanatorium, threats to society they say. I did one pro bono case…”

“Pro boneho?” say what, Alpha wonders?

“Pro bono, you know, without fee. I fought to keep a street urchin from going into the worst orphanage I’ve ever seen, got a couple in Cambridge to adopt him. One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

“And it nearly got you dismissed from the firm,” reminds his wife, who remembers the icy stares from James’ cohorts.

“That is the very reason we are moving back. That baggage car you had planned on riding in, Alpha, there is no room, filled to the roof with our things.”

“So now I won’t know anybody,” Alpha complains, aware that he already stands out on the Tufts University campus, like a wart on Mona Lisa’s nose. Even master DaVinci could not have made him blend into the scenery.

“In four more years you can do the same thing we are doing. There aren’t any more doctors than there are lawyers down home, at least the kind that save lives, not take ‘em.”

.Hosea-001  “Say, don’t you have a brother in New Jersey? Perhaps you could see him more often,” Abbey innocently suggests.

“Both times I took the ferry to the Boardwalk, he was in jail.” Alpha hangs his head in shame.

“Anything serious? We could stop and get him out… I know some judges in Atlantic City.”

“Whores and stealin’, are you good at those things? If you were to keep him out jail, he’d ‘bout wear your pro boneho out. Hardly worth the skin on his sorry bones.”

Time for a country lawyer to go home. The country doctor will get there eventually.

Alpha Omega M.D.


Newspaper Row Boston

Episode #165

page 154

Great Minds Think Alike – WIF Genius Handbook

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Great Minds


Throughout History

Since the first modern homo sapiens emerged some 50,000 years ago, it’s estimated that 107 billion human beings have at one time or another lived on planet Earth. The overwhelmingly vast majority of these people have been forgotten by history, but there are a very few individuals whose names and achievements will echo through the ages.

From ancient Greece through to the modern world, these are 10 of history’s greatest minds.

10. Plato (Circa 428 BC – 348 BC)

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once wrote that European philosophy is best characterized as a series of footnotes to Plato. While this might perhaps be something of a stretch, it gives an indication of the esteem in which the ancient Greek philosopher is held even to this day.

Plato’s efforts to understand the world around him covered metaphysics, ethics, politics, aesthetics, perception, and the nature of knowledge itself. Despite having been written more than two-thousand years ago, his work remains eminently readable today. Plato didn’t deal in dry, tedious treatise. He preferred to bring his work to life, teasing out thoughts and ideas in the form of a dialogue between characters. This in itself was a remarkably innovative approach. Plato blurred the lines between philosophy and entertainment and challenged the reader to scrutinize their own beliefs.

Having been born into one of the wealthiest families in Athens, Plato would have been well-schooled by the city’s finest philosophers. There’s no question it was his mentor Socrates who made the greatest impression, appearing again and again as chief protagonist in Plato’s dialogues. Socrates’ resurrection in immortal literary form would no doubt have been particularly galling to certain influential Athenians who had only recently killed him off. Ancient Greece was similar to the modern world in at least one respect: not everybody reacted kindly to having their beliefs challenged.

9. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Born out of wedlock, and with no formal education, the young da Vinci seemed destined for a life of anonymous drudgery. In Renaissance Italy there was little social mobility. The right family name and connections were invaluable. Da Vinci had neither, but he was not a man who would blend into the background to be forgotten by history.

Flamboyantly dressed, a strict vegetarian, enormously physically strong, and rumored to be gay in an age when homosexuality could be punished by death, it was nonetheless the workings of da Vinci’s remarkable mind that truly set him apart.

In an age renowned for producing an abundance of great artists, da Vinci is regarded as one of the greatest of them all. Yet painting was by no means his only talent, nor perhaps even his greatest talent. He studied geometry, mathematics, anatomy, botany, architecture, sculpture, and designed weapons of war for the kings, princes, and barons who struggled for wealth and power in Italy’s warring city states.

It was as a visionary that da Vinci was arguably at his most brilliant. In an age when Europe lacked basics such as indoor plumbing, he sketched out designs for magnificent flying machines and armored vehicles powered by hand-turned crankshafts, ideas that were centuries ahead of their time.

In 2002, almost 500 years after his death, one of Leonardo’s visions was lifted from the pages of his notebooks to become a reality. A recreation of a glider based on his sketches, albeit with a few modifications deemed necessary to reduce the risk of killing the pilot, was successfully flown by World Hang Gliding and Paragliding Champion Robbie Whittall.

8. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

The famous bard has become such an integral part of Western culture that it’s tempting to assume we must know a great deal about his life, but the reality is quite the opposite. He was certainly born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, but the exact date is a matter of some conjecture. There are huge swathes of time where he disappears from the records; we have no idea where he was or what he was doing. It’s not even entirely certain what he looked like. The popular image of Shakespeare is based on three main portraits. Two of these were produced years after his death and the other probably isn’t a depiction of Shakespeare at all.

While history leaves us largely in the dark as to Shakespeare the man, almost his entire body of work (so far as we know) has been preserved. The best of his offerings are widely regarded to be amongst the finest, if not the finest, works of literature in the English language. He was equally adept at comedy or tragedy, had a gift for writing strong female characters, and possessed an intimate understanding of the human condition that imbued his work with a timeless, eminently quotable quality.

Shakespeare was by no means the only famous playwright of his era, but his work has stood the test of time in a way that others have not. Few people are now familiar with the plays of Ben Johnson or Christopher Marlowe; fewer still have seen them performed. While his rivals are now little more than historical footnotes, Shakespeare is even more famous and celebrated in death than he was in life. With an estimated 4 billion copies of his work having been sold, he ranks as the best-selling fiction author of all time.

7. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

In December 2016, a first edition copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica sold at auction for $3.7 million. This was an extraordinary amount of money, but then Principia was an extraordinary book.

First published in 1687, Principia laid out the mathematical principles underpinning motion and gravity. It revolutionized science and was hailed as a work of near unparalleled genius, at least by the very few individuals capable of understanding it. Newton didn’t enjoy being questioned by lesser minds (which included just about everybody), so he wilfully set out to make Principiaas difficult to follow as possible. To make it less accessible still, he wrote it in Latin.

If Principia had been Newton’s only achievement, then that would have been more than enough to earn him the title of scientific genius. But Newton did a great deal else besides. With a ferocious work ethic that drove him to at least two nervous breakdowns, he scarcely slept, never married, and often became so absorbed in his work that he simply forgot to eat or teach his classes.

In an astonishingly productive 30-year period Newton invented calculus (but didn’t bother to tell anybody), conducted groundbreaking work on optics, invented the most effective telescope the world had ever seen, and discovered generalized binomial theorem.

When Newton died in 1727, his collection of notes amounted to some 10 million words. This window to the mind of one of history’s greatest geniuses proved less useful than might be imagined. Newton was obsessed with alchemy, and the latter part of his career was consumed in a futile attempt to transmute base metals into gold.

6. Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

At the age of 12, Benjamin Franklin was made apprentice to his elder brother James at his printing business in Boston. What he lacked in formal education, the younger Franklin more than made up for in curiosity and intelligence. He soon surpassed his brother as both a writer and a printer, a fact that didn’t escape James, who regularly expressed his displeasure with his fists.

The terms of Franklin’s apprenticeship meant that he couldn’t expect to receive wages until he turned 21. Backing himself to do rather better on his own, at 17 he ran away to find his own fortune. He succeeded in spectacular fashion and would go on to become one of the wealthiest men in America.

While Franklin’s genius for business earned him a huge amount of money, this was never his overriding goal. Convinced that an individual’s entrance to heaven would depend on what they had done rather than what they believed, he was passionate about improving the lot of his fellow man. Amongst his many achievements he set up America’s first lending library, founded a college that would go on to become the University of Pennsylvania, and created a volunteer fire fighting organization.

Franklin’s talents as a businessman were matched by his brilliance as a writer, a mathematician, an inventor, a scientist, and a good deal else besides. Perhaps his most significant discovery was that lightning bolts could be understood as a natural phenomenon rather than as an expression of the wrath of an angry God. By understanding lightning Franklin was able to tame it. The principles of the lightning rod he developed to protect buildings, ships, and other structures from lightning strikes are largely unchanged to this day. In true Franklin form he preferred to freely share his invention rather than apply for a patent that would have been worth an untold fortune.

5. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

Johan Van Beethoven was a man with a singular mission in life: to transform his son from a talented amateur into a musical genius to rival even the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He would pursue this goal with ruthless, single-minded determination.

As a result, the young Ludwig van Beethoven’s childhood was rather a miserable affair. Forced to practice for hours on end, his father would loom over him ready to administer a beating for the slightest mistake. This punishing regime left no time to spare for fun or playing with friends. Witnesses reported seeing Beethoven perched on a piano stool at all hours of day and night. Even his education was cut short; at the age of 11 he was withdrawn from school to concentrate on music to the exclusion of all else.

It’s sometimes said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft, and Beethoven would have exceeded this total from a very young age. His lopsided education meant that he struggled with simple mathematical principles throughout his life, but he became a truly phenomenal musician.

Beethoven ranks as arguably the greatest composer who ever lived, a feat which is all-the-more impressive since by the age of 26 he had developed a ringing in his ears. Over the next 20 years his hearing deteriorated to the point where he was totally deaf. Despite this considerable handicap, Beethoven’s intricate knowledge of music allowed him to produce some of his greatest works at a time when he couldn’t hear the notes he hit on his piano.

4. Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

In 1884 a Serb by the name of Nikola Tesla set foot on American soil for the first time. He arrived in New York with little more than the clothes on his back, the design for an electric motor, and a letter of introduction addressed to Thomas Edison.

Tesla and Edison were both geniuses, both brilliant inventors, and between them they knew more about electricity than anyone else alive. However, there was one major problem. Tesla’s electrical motor was designed to run on alternating current. Meanwhile, a good deal of Edison’s income was derived from the Edison Electric Light Company, which relied on direct current.

In an attempt to protect his investments, Edison set out to discredit Tesla and convince the public of the dangers of alternating current. One particularly gruesome film, shot by the Edison Manufacturing Company, shows an unfortunate elephant by the name of Topsy being enveloped by smoke and keeling over after being blasted with 6,600 volts of electricity.

Despite these dirty tricks, Tesla’s system had one very significant advantage: alternating current could be transmitted over long distances, while direct current could not. Tesla won the war of the currents.

Tesla’s inventions, from hydroelectric power plants to remote control vehicles, helped to usher in the modern age, but he had no spark for business. In 1916, with his mental health deteriorating alarmingly, he was declared bankrupt. Afraid of human hair, round objects, and preferring the company of pigeons over people, he seemed to have become the embodiment of the idea of a mad scientist. This impression was only strengthened by Tesla’s obsession with developing a “death ray” capable of shooting bolts of lightning. Tesla believed his death ray would bring about an end to warfare, but he never succeeded in completing it. He died alone in a hotel room at the age of 86.

3. Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

In 1896 the physicist Henri Becquerel made the serendipitous discovery that uranium salts emitted rays of some kind. While this struck him as rather curious, he wasn’t convinced that further research into the phenomenon represented the best use of his time. He instead tasked his most talented student, Marie Curie, with discovering just what was going on.

It wasn’t often that such opportunities fell so easily into Curie’s lap. In her native Poland there had been no official higher education available for females, so Curie had enrolled in a clandestine “Flying University.” On emigrating to France she had graduated at the top of her class, despite having arrived armed with only a rudimentary grasp of the French language.

Curie, working alongside her husband Pierre, identified two new elements, polonium and radium, and proved that certain types of rocks gave off vast quantities of energy without changing in any discernible way. This remarkable discovery earned Curie the first of her two Nobel Prizes, and it could have made her very rich indeed had she chosen to patent her work rather than make the fruits of her research freely available. It was widely assumed that something as seemingly miraculous as radiation must be hugely beneficial to human health, and radium found its way into all manner of consumer products from toothpaste to paint.

Even Curie had no idea that radiation might be dangerous, and years of handling radium very likely led to the leukemia that claimed her life in 1934. Her notebooks are still so infused with radiation that they will remain potentially deadly for another 1,500 years; anybody willing to run the risk of reading them is required to don protective gear and sign a liability waiver.

2. Hugh Everett (1930 – 1982)

By the age of just 12, Hugh Everett was already brilliant enough to be regularly exchanging letters with Albert Einstein. The American excelled at chemistry and mathematics, but it was in physics, and more specifically quantum mechanics, that he made his mark with one of the strangest scientific theories of the Twentieth Century.

Nils Bohr once famously wrote that anybody who isn’t shocked by quantum mechanics hasn’t understood it. The behavior of protons and electrons on a quantum level is downright weird, but Everett suggested it all made sense if there were an infinite number of universes.

Everett’s multiverse theory proved popular amongst science fiction writers, but it was derided by the scientific community. Disappointed, Everett largely gave up on quantum mechanics. He instead undertook research for the US military, attempting to minimize American casualties in the event of a nuclear war.

A heavy-drinker and a chain-smoker, Everett died in 1982 at the age of 51. Since then his ideas have begun to edge towards the scientific mainstream, and they do resolve a number of thorny problems. The universe operates to the laws of a set of numbers known as fundamental constants, and every one of these has to be precisely tuned in order for the universe to function as it does.

It seems that either humanity has been fantastically lucky, on the level of one individual winning the lottery every week for several months, or the universe has been intelligently designed. Everett’s multiverse theory suggests another possibility. If there are an infinite number of universes, then an infinite number of possibilities are played out. In such circumstances it comes as no surprise that we find ourselves in a universe that appears to be tuned to perfection.

1. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

Contrary to popular belief Einstein didn’t fail math at school. He excelled at the subject, having mastered differential and integral calculus by the age of 15. However, while the spark of genius was already present, it would be quite some time until anybody recognized it. It’s fair to say that the academic world wasn’t beating a path to Einstein’s door. Having been rejected for a university teaching position, and then having been turned down by a high school, in 1902 the German-born physicist began work in the Patents Office in Bern, Switzerland.

The idea that a lowly patents clerk would go on to become arguably the most influential scientist of all-time would have appeared absurd, but in 1905, in what must rank as the most extraordinarily productive 12 months of individual intellectual endeavor in history, he produced four papers that would revolutionize the way the universe is understood.

In just one year he proved the existence of atoms, described the photoelectric effect, demonstrated that an object’s mass is an expression of the energy it contains (E = mc2), and published his Special Theory of Relativity. He would eventually expand the latter into his famous General Theory of Relativity, which suggested that space and time were one and the same thing.

Einstein’s theory of relativity was still just a theory, and one that was considered little short of heresy by a significant portion of the scientific community (Nikola Tesla included). It wasn’t until 1919, when his predictions on the behavior of starlight during a solar eclipse were demonstrated to be accurate, thereby proving his theory to be correct, that he was catapulted to international fame.

Great Minds Think Alike

– WIF Genius Handbook

The NULL Solution = Episode 36

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The NULL Solution = Episode 36

A straw that stirs the drink would be an apt depiction of Lorgan…

Known to Earth as Lorgan, that “shiny meddler” seems to have an agenda and the ability to navigate space with impunity. Its effects appear to vary widely, as it applies to any unique affected party.

  • Wipe out an Eridanian scouting mission & drive them into isolation and ultimately, hibernation?
  • Spy on what “it” considers a primitive world by hiding behind Earth’s star & singling out the planet’s most dangerous society?
  • Disable the outposts of the paranoid Seljuk, while stirring their suspicions as to who is responsible?
  • Expose the Ÿ€Ð to the harshness of their proximity of their star & provoking them into an offensive position?

A straw that stirs the drink would be an apt depiction of Lorgan, but you best keep a safe distance.  The drink itself is the Great Expanse. But what exactly are the purposes of the straw? Where does the straw come from? You will likely get four different answers from the 4 affected parties.

“Take a look at this Crip,” Fletcher Fitch has been digging in the recesses of the NASA mainframe, searching for something, anything that will give him a leg-up on that whippersnapper Gus McKinney. Understanding Stellar Explorer’s unexplainable improvements, as well as defining the undefinable Lorgan, has turned into an earnest competition. He points at a complicated schematic that has appeared out of nowhere into the NASA mainframe.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Some sort of energy field?”

Before the engineer can expand on his thoughts, another diagram piggybacks on the first.

“Now hold your horses. This one looks like a molecular disruptor! I’m not sure where this stuff is coming from, but I can tell you it’s not from any of us.” Fitch would know.

“Somebody must think we may need these improvements in the future.” None of this technology would make sense for an organization in the business of mere exploration, with only fractional knowledge of extraterrestrial entities.

A third program spills into the supercomputer.

“These are the schemes for the molecular stabilizers.”

Davinci 2 by chillara on DeviantArt

“And the answers to how SEx went from warp1 to warp3.”

They are accidental inventors, every one.

This is like discovering every single one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes or Edison’s drawings of his numerous world-changing inventions. Technology, barely comprehensible by current science, is falling into their laps.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 36

page 40

Notebooks – WIF Historical Scribbling

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Not This Kind!!!

10 Historically

Important Notebooks

You’ll find them in almost every shop and of varying shapes and sizes, but, at times, the humble notebook has actually played an important part in history. From influencing philosophical thought to illuminating the theory behind The Origin of Species, these examples will show you how important a little copy for keeping records in can be. Some revealed hidden truths about their writers posthumously, while some just helped the writer organize their mind, but all have been important in human history.

10. Beethoven’s

‘conversation notebooks’


Beethoven is notorious for always having carried around a notebook (as well as being an acclaimed composer, obviously). In fact, paintings of him usually had him holding one of his notebooks.

They were just published in full by Walter Nohl of Munich, after being the most prized possession of the Berlin State Library’s Music Department.  He used them to compose music, of course, but also to write down quotations of significance to him – things like ‘Tis said, that art is long, and life but fleeting:—Nay; life is long, and brief the span of art; If e’re her breath vouchsafes with gods a meeting, A moment’s favor ’tis of which we’ve had a part.’ He called his notebooks ‘conversation notebooks’. As he was entirely deaf for the last 12 years of his life, Beethoven handed these to his conversation partners whenever he wished to talk. He usually replied orally.

Topics included in his notebooks were worries about indigestion and his eye trouble, food, writing paper and the search for a good apartment – something many of us have experienced!

9. Hemingway’s notebooks


Hemingway is so famous for his love of notebooks that Moleskine boasts about being ‘the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway’. Hemingway himself said ‘I belong to this notebook and this pencil.’ He was seldom seen without a notebook. He often wrote in little black notebooks, the predecessors to Moleskines, in Parisian cafés. He was a passionate devotee to a pencil and pocket notebook.

In fact, he brought them almost everywhere, not just to cafés – on trains and to bullfights, for example, for note-taking. He also used them to jot down expensesand even to record his wife’s menstrual cycles.

He has been described by Slate as being ‘what we would now call a neurotic’, and keeping records in notebooks helped him organize his thoughts.

8. The Fairchild notebooks


The Fairchild patent notebooks were crucial to our computerised world today. Their contents revolutionized the science and manufacture of microelectronics and launched the incredible growth of Silicon Valley. Ideas including modern semiconductor manufacture, integrated circuits, the technology that lets us power portable digital devices (like the phone or tablet you might be holding right now) and semiconductor memory all came from these notebooks. The engineering notebooks were kept by prominent people like Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce (founders of Intel), Jean Hoerni, Julius Blank, Eugene Kleiner, Victor Grinich, Jay Last, and Sheldon Roberts.

Incidentally, the notebooks also paved the way for Moore’s Law, the so-far-accurate idea that computer processing power would double roughly every two years.

A conservation project was started for them at the Computer History Museumtwo years ago when Texas Instruments donated the notebooks to the museum. Kathleen Orlenko assessed over 1,000 of the notebooks, dating from 1957 through the 70s.

7. Thomas Edison’s notebooks


Thomas Edison amassed approximately five million pages of writing in his sixty-year career as an inventor. He used notebooks to organize notes on his inventions and innovations. A note at the end of his pocket notebook for October 1870 says ‘all new inventions I will here after keep a full record’. These notebooks were used by him and his colleagues. The Thomas Edison National Historical Park has more than 3,000 of these notebooks, each with around 280 pages. It’s believed that his prolific writing and experimenting may have stretched up to 3,500 notebooks. He received the most US patents ever awarded to one person (1,093).

These included the light bulb, alkaline battery, phonograph and motion picture camera. Keeping notebooks was a life-long habit of his that helped him structure his ideas from conception to execution – tremendously important for our world today. He used them for everything, from brainstorming to recording results, and they helped him pursue his goal of making one minor invention every 10 days and one major one every six months.

Not only did they help him in his incredible productivity, the notebooks are also a highly valuable tool for modern-day historians trying to get an insight into his mind.

6. Heidegger’s black notebooks


German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s black notebooks sparked controversy when they were published in March 2014. He was widely viewed as a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition (a branch of philosophy that includes existentialism, German idealism, psychoanalytic theory and French feminism and the rejection of science as the ultimate method of understanding phenomena, among others). He became professor of philosophy at Freiburg. He was the most important Continental philosopher of the 20th century. His book Being and Time is a seminal work in the Continental tradition and he is widely considered the father of modern atheistic existentialism. He also made adifference outside philosophy, in areas as varied as architecture and theology.

He was involved in Nazism, but it was thought that this was a personal matter, not one that had leaked into his philosophical thinking – until, that is, the publication of his Black Notebooks. Heidegger wrote a kind of philosophical diary in little black-covered notebooks over forty years. They show that he actually incorporate anti-Semitic ideas into his philosophy, like when he wrote ‘the Jews, with their marked gift for calculating, live, already for the longest time, according to the principle of race, which is why they are resisting its consistent application with utmost violence.’

This has led to people wondering whether all of his highly influential ideas were contaminated by Nazism. As his writings inspired some of the most important thinkers of the modern era, these notebooks cast their reliability into doubt.

5. Sartre’s notebooks


Works published during philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s life showed that he agreed with Hegel that humans struggle against one another to win recognition but rejected some other aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. However, notebooks published after his death, titled Notebooks for an Ethics, displayed a dramatic about-turn in his thinking on the matter. The notebooks said that he now agreed with Hegel that the master/slave dynamic can be transcended through relations of mutual recognition – basically, the notebooks revealed a very different philosophy.

His work Existentialism is a Humanism presented arguments similar to Kant’s, which led to many scholars saying Sartre’s ideas came from Kant. However, in his notebooks he dismisses this idea and rejects Kantian ethics as a form of ‘slave morality’ and an ‘ethics of demands’. Ouch!

Sartre’s original ideas on freedom were widely criticized, and in the notebooks he too became critical of his early view. Thus, the notebooks are a veryimportant tool for understanding the philosophy of a key figure in the study of existentialism.

4. Charles Darwin’s notebooks


Darwin kept diaries in notebooks throughout the Beagle voyage that would lead him to think of the theory of evolution. He took fourteen of them on his trips to the shore. During the voyage he kept field notes on his observations. As the voyage drew to a close, he also used one (his Red notebook) for theoretical speculations on subjects like geology and the formation of coral reefs. After the voyage he started a new series of notebooks for his thoughts on transmutation (evolution) and metaphysical enquiries.

The notebooks give a detailed account of his research, speculation and gradual understanding of where species come from. In his Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837) he drew the first tree of descent with modification, or natural selection – more commonly known as an evolutionary tree.  This sketch has become famous. The notebooks were mostly completed by the 1840s. These notebooks were essential to the development to the widely accepted and hugely important theory of natural selection, and the precursor to The Origin of Species.

3. Albert Einstein’s notebooks


Like Thomas Edison and many other eminent scientists and inventors, Einsteinkept a notebook to record his calculations and ideas. In March 2012, 80,000 documents written by or addressed to Einstein were published online by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Einstein Papers Project (EPP) at Caltech. This collection includes Einstein’s notebooks, which show the thought process of a revolutionary genius.

One of these is the Zurich notebook, written in the winter of 1912/13. This notebook shows how Einstein came by his theory of relativity, complete with notes and calculations. Other notebooks show lecture notes. The notebooks and letter show that he didn’t work alone, but actually exchanged ideas with many other scientists.

The Zurich notebook shows light-hearted sketches by Einstein, include mathematical puzzles of the day – so even he liked to have fun. The rest of the notebook has serious physics, including electrodynamics in four dimensions, the line element of general relativity, motion in curved surfaces, gravitation, invariants and the Riemann Tensor.

The notebooks give a valuable insight into the day-to-day workings of a brilliant mind.

2. The Prison Notebooks


The Prison notebooks are a series of notebooks written by Italian MarxistAntonio Gramsci while he was imprisoned in 1926 by the Fascist regime for being the founder and leader of the Communist party. Gramsci was a philosopher, politician and political theorist.  He wrote more than 30 notebooks with 3000 pages of history and analysis while he was imprisoned. The Prison Notebooks are thought of as a highly important and original contribution to 20th century political theory.

Gramsci’s writings pre-prison had been more specifically political, but The Prison Notebooks are relatively theoretical. Topics covered included education, intellectuals, fascism, hegemony and Marxism. He wrote these under the surveillance of a Fascist jailer, so he had to be careful about what he wrote. Because of this, his writings are disorganized and at times ambiguous. He was isolated from the events occurring outside prison, especially Stalinism and the victory of German fascism.

The notebooks were smuggled out of prison in the 1930s and published twenty years later.

1. Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks


Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks are famous for having been written in mirror script, from right to left. Some say this was to make them harder to decipher, but it may just have been because da Vinci was left-handed and wanted to avoid smudging the paper. He wrote in his notebooks daily, finishing with about13,000 pages of work.

The notebooks record the many interests and endeavors of this all-round Renaissance man, from maths to art to flying machines and diving suits. He wasn’t picky about what he put in his notebook, which is lucky, as it has given historians a precious resource. Leonardo made an inventory of his clothes in a notebook now held in Madrid, while in others he adds little memos to himself and shopping lists – all alongside complex mechanical notes and studies of human anatomy.

11. Gwen’s WIF notebook


This is a daily recording of what I post on WRITING IS FUN-DAMENTAL. I use this as a tangible resource to keep track of what I publish each day. Oh sure I could do a spreadsheet, but like all geniuses (ha, ha), handwritten notes are handy to have. Someday my children will wonder what to do with these.


– WIF Historical Scribbling