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Influence of past achievements is necessary for making a significant contribution


ershad193 14 / 337 5  
Sep 1, 2010   #1
I think my poor vocabulary is highlighted in this essay.

"In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant contribution without first being strongly influenced by past achievements within that field." (Time limit: 45 mins)

A scientist, a leader, a doctor - these are examples of people who leave lasting impressions in their respective fields. Most of them pursue their fields after being motivated by others who had taken the same paths before them. They are propelled towards their goals by others who had already reached those goals. However, to assume that others, who are not inspired by past achievements in their chosen fields, cannot make noteworthy contributions would be wrong. Such an assumption would disregard the cases which, amongst others, include contributions which were firsts in their fields, fortuitous discoveries, or those that are made indirectly.

First of all, the statement downgrades the meaning of the word "pioneer." A pioneer is someone who proposes something that has never been thought of before. Therefore, pioneers are not influenced by the past achievements, but rather influence others who will work after them in their pioneered field. When Newton and Leibnitz invented calculus, they were not influenced by the work of others. Similarly, before Einstein, no one had given any thought to the reality that is known as relativity. Such examples are scattered over history which disprove the given statement.

In scientific fields, we also encounter something known as a serendipitous discovery or invention. A serendipitous discovery is an unintentional discovery. It is something which takes place by chance. One of the most famous examples is the discovery of the drug penicillin. We all know how significant penicillin has been for the human race. A serendipitous discovery may not take place in the intended field, but it may still be significant.

The quote also ignores people who make valuable contributions in an indirect way. Let us consider the case of philanthropists who make donations or take part in charity. Usually, the donated money goes to some sort of organization like a cancer research center, children's home, etc. Now, the people donating the money may not have any idea how cancer research is done or how to run a children's home, but they are still making a significant contribution, although not directly.

It is clear from the above examples that a contribution in a field can be significant even if the contributor has not been affected by history of that field. While usually, people are more determined to do something significant when they are inspired by the feats of others in that field; it is not the necessary criterion. As explained above, for a significant change to occur, all that is necessary may be as simple as pure luck.

meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Sep 1, 2010   #2
How is your vocabulary poor? you are writing on the meanings behind words- pioneer. I somewhat disagree that they are not influenced by past achievements, because one thing always leads to another.. I guess you can phrase it that there are people who start and/or develop their own fields, which are not influenced in such a way.

Q about calculus, was it invented, or discovered? :< I guess it's possible to invent math, though it sounds funny.
About the last sentence on serendipitous discovery, I somewhat but I don't really get the connection. What did you mean by intended field?
I really like that mention of donations, though it somewhat begs the question of what is a "significant contribution."

I like this essay, though I somewhat disagree. But I guess from previous discussions, debatable papers are GOOD papers.
Cheers, (maybe I should go read undergrad admission papers, someone pm me to start :D)
freezard7734 17 / 209  
Sep 1, 2010   #3
Therefore, pioneers are not influenced by the past achievements, but rather influence others who will work after them in their pioneered field.

Woah. To me, this is a bit of an overstatement. Whatever someone does must be influenced by something. Given this contemporary world, it is extremely unlikely that a person just came up with an idea out of nowhere (there are rare cases of that... i guess -.-); instead, he is mostly likely inspired by something. The works of Pasteur and Feynman and Newton were indeed revolutionary, but their former experiences with experimentation, observation, calculation, and analysis led them to their discovery and formulation of pasteurization, Feynman diagrams, and gravity.

BTW, your vocabulary is pretty impressive! It is nowhere near "poor," unless you are comparing to someone like Plato or Socrates.. but let's not get pessimistic. :)

"A scientist, a leader, a doctor - these are examples of people who leave lasting impressions in their respective fields."
I don't know... to me, it seems a little redundant to say that... but this is just an opinion...

"In scientific fields, we also encounter something known as a serendipitous discovery or invention. A serendipitous discovery is an unintentional discovery. "
As Pasteur said, chance favors those who are more prepared and experienced. You might discover something, but if you don't have background knowledge and experience, which are inevitably based on other people's accomplishments, you won't know that you had discovered.

"Usually, the donated money goestransfers to some sort of organizations like a cancer research centers , children's home, etc. Now,the The people donating the money may not have any idea how cancer research is doneoperated or how to rundirect a children's home, but they are still making a significant contribution, although not directl y."

Just a few changes that I thought would make the statements stronger. :]
Here... you do make a good point... but for the sake of argument :) I want to bring out a possibility. What then influences the philanthropist to generously donate so much money? Something must have inspired him. Maybe as a child, he had severe illness, or he experienced others suffer misfortune and poverty... although not directly and not rigorously, an experience related to a field of study would have influenced him then... But your arguments are clear and concise, and you organize your thoughts very well! Don't take offense :] It was just for argument's sake...


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