In the USA, the first Monday of September is Labor Day. In many parts of the world, Labor Day is celebrated on May 1st. It is a holiday in appreciation of the achievements of working people. Here is a story, supplied by FR reader Dipankar Bose, that is appropriate to ponder over this Labor Day weekend.
In the mid 1800’s the scientific community in Europe and the USA had finally accepted the existence of ice ages and global cooling and heating cycles. However, nobody could explain how this happened. In 1864 a paper was published in the ‘Philosophical’ magazine by then unknown James Croll of Anderson University in Glasgow. This paper explained the effects of variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun on global climatic conditions, specifically the onset and retreat of ice-ages. Scientists reviewing the paper recognized it as having the highest standard of scientific excellence and being a brilliant piece of work.
However, the academic community was highly embarrassed and surprised to learn that far from being a distinguished professor at Anderson University, James Croll was a janitor. By getting his brother to take on most of his janitorial duties he freed himself up to spend his evenings in the library teaching himself physics and mathematics. Once his genius was recognized he subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal Society in London, and the New York Academy of Sciences.
This is a true life version of the movie ‘Good Will Hunting’ (Matt Damon, Robin Williams)
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