Rethinking our physics heroes

Last modified: August 9, 2018

An inspiring editorial by Nature on rethinking who we consider to be heroes in science. Scientists who are celebrated for their ground-breaking achievements can have problematic personalities (such as sexism, prejudices). The opposite also exists. There are scientists who might be known less for their discoveries but who did have a huge impact on their peers, namely as inspiring role models.

Quotes from the editorial

  • “Perhaps the way we look up to the great people of science needs tweaking.”
  • “Removing the personality of a scientist from consideration also minimizes the fact that there are individuals that deserve to be celebrated for the positive impact that they have had on the community.”
  • “These mentors should be celebrated for the vital role they play in nurturing the next generation of scientific talent. In addition to the necessary and important attempts to bring negative behaviour by those in powerful positions to light, and to make sure that universities enforce their codes of conduct with integrity, we should also actively look to highlight and celebrate those in science who are constructive and generous with their time and energy. They might not be heroes by the commonly accepted meaning of the term, but they arguably have more impact on those near them than the traditional icons of science. We could also tweak our personal aspirations: maybe our aim should be to act more like heroic role models rather than heroic researchers.

Read the whole editorial here.

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