Darwin vs. Newton: A Poem

Of all the scientists to come, alive, or dead
On the list of contributions, two names march ahead
Newton and Darwin, forever supreme
Best minds to roam Earth, lovely and green
But who was more important? Who the better man?
In the latter department Darwin has surely the upper hand
But in the former category, it’s unclear as can be
Because the brains of these two worked so differently
Let’s start with Newton, and see what he did
To make our world as precise and as neat as it is:

Everything around us changes without fail
But how do we measure it, and not just say how it feels?
Along came Newton, cantankerous and mean
With a new way of calculating all kinds of speeds

He said:

“Give me a function, a simple function will do
i’ll differentiate it once, twice, what’s most pleasing for you.
At the end of my scribbling, you’ll all undoubtedly see:
my method of fluxions is better than any could be!”

Thus the rate at which something changes
Became a math-based idea
And the rate at which the rate of something changes
Gives us all of physics, grotesque or ideal
Without this precision in our notion of change
There would be no science, no tech—simply no modern age!

But what about change on a much grander scale?
On this Newton was silent, and Darwin prevailed

For ages we wondered, how it all came to be
On this fast spinning rock, with life’s great variety
The past seemed so dark, remote and unclear
Until Darwin stepped forth, with his great mighty beard

He said:

“I have a theory, which clearly explains
how complexity evolves from creatures so plain
differential reproduction, variation, and fitness
can explain this rainbow of traits that we witness
A mountain of evidence for this theory I’ve gathered
Amidst years of toil and doubt, but that’s really no matter
Evolution by natural selection is fact
So tread carefully deniers, my bulldog bites back!”

And there we have it, how all things evolve
Physical systems and life—now apparent to all
Without Darwin, biology would make no basic sense
But in Newton’s absence, there would be no pattern to events
So while the question of status remains unresolved
One thing’s for sure:
Both Darwin and Newton were much brighter than us all!

Leo Kozachkov (Staff Writer, Rutgers University)
Leo KovachkovLeo Kozachkov is an undergraduate at Rutgers University, studying physics and mathematics. He is currently working as an Aresty Research Assistant under Professor Thomas V. Papathomas. He enjoys writing, drawing, creating/playing music, going on long walks with his beloved dog, and reading/hoarding books. His grandest hopes are to discover a new physical law, have a mathematical theorem feature his last name, and to write many books.

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