Written by: Stephen Hsu
Primary Source: Information Processing
This is funny, and does capture the tendency of physicists (not just old ones) to wander into other fields.
But the cartoon avoids the hard question (perhaps best addressed by historians of science) as to the actual value brought to other fields by physicists.
… Crick, 35, had already had a career in physics interrupted by the war and despaired of making his great contribution to science. Watson was a callow 23, fresh from Indiana.
It was clear to me that I was faced with a novelty: enormous ambition and aggressiveness, … I am sure that, had I had more contact with, for instance, theoretical physicists, my astonishment would have been less great. In any event, there they were, speculating, pondering, angling for information. …
Thanks for digging around down there — what did you find, again? Great! I’ve got more horsepower, so I’ll just connect the dots for you now… :-) From Wikipedia on Crick:
Crick had to adjust from the “elegance and deep simplicity” of physics to the “elaborate chemical mechanisms that natural selection had evolved over billions of years.” He described this transition as, “almost as if one had to be born again.” According to Crick, the experience of learning physics had taught him something important—hubris—and the conviction that since physics was already a success, great advances should also be possible in other sciences such as biology. Crick felt that this attitude encouraged him to be more daring than typical biologists who tended to concern themselves with the daunting problems of biology and not the past successes of physics.
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