3 famous innovators whose mothers were key to their success
Not all moms would travel into the African bush or drain their life savings just to help their kids realize their dreams.
- Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jane Goodall, and Elon Musk all received extraordinary support from their mothers.
- Without this support, these innovators' careers probably would've turned out much differently.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Even when his roles were small, such as in 1992's Scent of a Woman, it's hard to forget a performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. Equally adept at playing the lead role or that of a bumbling sidekick, Hoffman was one of his generation's greatest actors. And his mother is largely to thank for introducing him to the craft.
In 2006, Hoffman won Best Actor for his lead role in Capote. Here's what he said during his acceptance speech:
"My mom's name is Marilyn O'Connor, and she's here tonight. And, I'd like, if you see her tonight, to congratulate her, because she brought up four kids alone, and she deserves a congratulations for that. . . She took me to see my first play. She stayed up with me and watched the NCAA Final Four. . . Be proud mom, because I'm proud of you."
Hoffman died in 2014 from a drug overdose. One year later, O'Connor was honored at the High Falls Film Festival, of which she was a founding member. O'Connor said:
"Movies have been a part of my life since I was a little girl. My parents took me to movies. I snuck away to go to movies by myself even at night. . . I left college classes early so I could go to movies."
As a young girl growing up in London, Jane Goodall had a very specific dream: She wanted to live in Africa among wild animals. It's a goal many parents might scoff at or try to discourage. But Jane's mother, Vanne Morris-Goodall, never did anything of the sort.
"Mother told me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. I am always grateful for that," Goodall told The Citizen in 2014.
That support went beyond just words. In 1960, as Jane was preparing for one of her early trips to Tanzania, British authorities told her it wasn't safe to venture alone into the bush. So, Vanne agreed to accompany Jane as a "chaperone" for several months.
Jane said she learned a lot about being a mother from observing how chimpanzees raise their children. Jane once described what makes a successful chimpanzee mother, and it sounds remarkably similar to how Jane's own mother raised her:
"The offspring of mothers who are protective, but not too protective; tolerant, but able to discipline; affectionate and above all supportive have less problems."
Before Elon Musk founded enormously successful companies such as SpaceX and Tesla, he and his brother, venture capitalist Kimbal Musk, founded a software company called Zip2 in 1995. It wasn't an immediate success. Elon and Kimbal's mother, Maye Musk, was working for the company at the time, performing duties such as overseeing interns and vetting business plans. Maye, who was a model, dietician, and business-owner herself, ended up donating $10,000 of her savings to keep the company afloat. She later said it was her "best investment ever."
A few years later, Compaq bought Zip2 for $307 million.
"I don't stop my kids from doing anything they think is right," Musk told Forbes. "As long as you're doing something that is good for the future, then I think you should remain positive and do it."
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
Scientists discover the inner workings of an effect that will lead to a new generation of devices.
- Researchers discover a method of extracting previously unavailable information from superconductors.
- The study builds on a 19th-century discovery by physicist Edward Hall.
- The research promises to lead to a new generation of semiconductor materials and devices.
Credit: Gunawan/Nature magazine
The number of people with dementia is expected to triple by 2060.
The images and our best computer models don't agree.
A trio of intriguing galaxy clusters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNDA0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTkzNzUyOH0.0IRzkzvKsmPEHV-v1dqM1JIPhgE2W-UHx0COuB0qQnA/img.jpg?width=980" id="d69be" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d2664d9174369e0a06540cb3a3a9079" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The three galaxy clusters imaged for the study
Mapping dark matter<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d904b585c806752f261e1215014691a6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fO0jO_a9uLA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The assumption has been that the greater the lensing effect, the higher the concentration of dark matter.</p><p>As scientists analyzed the clusters' large-scale lensing — the massive arc and elongation visual effects produced by dark matter — they noticed areas of smaller-scale lensing within that larger distortion. The scientists interpret these as concentrations of dark matter within individual galaxies inside the clusters.</p><p>The researchers used spectrographic data from the VLT to determine the mass of these smaller lenses. <a href="https://www.oas.inaf.it/en/user/pietro.bergamini/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pietro Bergamini</a> of the INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science in Bologna, Italy explains, "The speed of the stars gave us an estimate of each individual galaxy's mass, including the amount of dark matter." The leader of the spectrographic aspect of the study was <a href="http://docente.unife.it/docenti-en/piero.rosati1/curriculum?set_language=en" target="_blank">Piero Rosati</a> of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy who recalls, "the data from Hubble and the VLT provided excellent synergy. We were able to associate the galaxies with each cluster and estimate their distances." </p><p>This work allowed the team to develop a thoroughly calibrated, high-resolution map of dark matter concentrations throughout the three clusters.</p>
But the models say...<p>However, when the researchers compared their map to the concentrations of dark matter computer models predicted for galaxies bearing the same general characteristics, something was <em>way</em> off. Some small-scale areas of the map had 10 times the amount of lensing — and presumably 10 times the amount of dark matter — than the model predicted.</p><p>"The results of these analyses further demonstrate how observations and numerical simulations go hand in hand," notes one team member, <a href="https://nena12276.wixsite.com/elenarasia" target="_blank">Elena Rasia</a> of the INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, Italy. Another, <a href="http://adlibitum.oats.inaf.it/borgani/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stefano Borgani</a> of the Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy, adds that "with advanced cosmological simulations, we can match the quality of observations analyzed in our paper, permitting detailed comparisons like never before."</p><p>"We have done a lot of testing of the data in this study," Meneghetti says, "and we are sure that this mismatch indicates that some physical ingredient is missing either from the simulations or from our understanding of the nature of dark matter." <a href="https://physics.yale.edu/people/priyamvada-natarajan" target="_blank">Priyamvada Natarajan</a> of Yale University in Connecticut agrees: "There's a feature of the real Universe that we are simply not capturing in our current theoretical models."</p><p>Given that any theory in science lasts only until a better one comes along, Natarajan views the discrepancy as an opportunity, saying, "this could signal a gap in our current understanding of the nature of dark matter and its properties, as these exquisite data have permitted us to probe the detailed distribution of dark matter on the smallest scales."</p><p>At this point, it's unclear exactly what the conflict signifies. Do these smaller areas have unexpectedly high concentrations of dark matter? Or can dark matter, under certain currently unknown conditions, produce a tenfold increase in lensing beyond what we've been expecting, breaking the assumption that more lensing means more dark matter?</p><p>Obviously, the scientific community has barely begun to understand this mystery.</p>
Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.