Esquire magazine scribe Tom Junod recently wrote something that made me question my judgment and his sanity - namely that Franziska Michor Is the Isaac Newton of Biology
Now, the last time someone compared themselves to Isaac Newton it was ... well, okay it was me, but even I can't be serious about comparing myself to Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton is a serious guy in physics. A giant. Maybe the giant. It's one thing to make comparisons for dramatic effect, which a keen writer like Junod can do better than anyone, but another to make a serious case.
Isaac Newton is the metric for comparison because he is so fundamental. Isaac Newton to physicists is like a Prius is to environmental activists. He's that important. So it would be easy to dismiss Junod out of hand because, let's face it, he knows jack about science. But that's not what science is about so, instead, we will do what scientists always do when faced with a hypothesis.
Make a bunch of tables.
As you can see by the table below we have compiled a list of important criteria for our evaluation. That will help us decide who is really better, Michor or Newton.
|Characteristic||Isaac Newton||Franziska Michor||Advantage|
|Born Christmas day, 1642 to an illiterate yeoman||Born to professor Peter Michor, a differential geometry wizard||Draw. Born on Christmas cancels out a math guru father|
|Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, age 26||Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard, age 22||Newton. He got the best title in science from the greatest university of its day when most people don't even own a house.|
|Hated by Robert Hooke for his work in physics||Hated by a billion religious people for her work in evolutionary biology||Newton. That Hooke was a real prick|
|Invented calculus so he could do, you know, important stuff||Can drive an 18-wheeler||Michor. 70% of high school math students hate calculus. No one hates a hot girl truck driver|
|None. He ate every meal in a coffeehouse||Can bake a pie from scratch||Michor. It's pie|
|Halley, now of the famous comet, tried to stump Newton with a physics riddle. Newton had already solved it and wrote Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica to flesh it all out||Learned to drive a truck because they had too many horses to tow with a car||Newton. Though to be fair to Michor, next to Archimedes "Eureka!", Newton has the coolest anecdote ever and the hot girl truck driver thing can only take you so far|
|Used math to solve the mysteries of planetary motion||Uses math to solve the mysteries of cancer||Michor. Planetary motion never killed anyone|
Oh, a 3 to 3 tie. I hadn't anticipated this but we have a solution. We'll use the set of secondary criteria that most scientists, and all of the readers of this site, use when making important decisions. We'll compare pictures:
Yep, that looks like a 4-3 win for Michor in my book. I guess those Esquire guys know their science after all.
Well played, Mr. Junod.