There is a story of how the inventor Guglielmo Marconi discovered radio waves. He developed, demonstrated and marketed the first successful long-distance wireless telegraph and in 1901 broadcast the first transatlantic radio signal.
Today we cannot live our day to day routine lives without making use of Marconi’s invention. Everything from the Internet to TV to the simple transistor radio depends on his discovery.
I remember reading a magazine or newspaper article regarding how Marconi came across his discovery. I do not remember where I read the article but the story goes as follows:
Prior to Marconi’s discovery another inventor cum businessman, Thomas Edison, was experimenting in his laboratory hoping to get a result that would enable him to come up with a patent for a product. He did not get the result that he was looking for so he stopped experimenting and turned his attention to other avenues.
Later Marconi also started doing the same unsuccessful experiments that Edison had done earlier. But there was a difference between Edison and Marconi. Edison had been looking for particular result from his experiments. Marconi on the other hand was experimenting purely for the sake of it. Because he enjoyed it. Art for art’s sake as the saying goes. Of course, in this case it was science for science’s sake.
Marconi went just one step further, than Edison, in his experiments and he discovered radio signals.
The article went on to say that this one discovery of Marconi’s had a greater impact on human lives than all of Thomas Edison’s inventions put together. And Edison over the course of his life had acquired as many as 1093 patents (singly or jointly). He was a legendary inventor and businessman.
I came across the concept of Art for art’s sake in the Sherlock Holmes novels. It is also mentioned by Bertrand Russell and Lin Yu Tang. Wikipedia describes the concept as under
“Art for art’s sake” is the usual English rendering of a French slogan from the early 19th century, “l’art pour l’art” (pronounced [laʁ puʁ laʁ]), and expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only “true” art, is divorced from any didactic, moral, politic, or utilitarian function.
The Bhagavad Gita also says that we have the right to act but not for the fruits thereof.
I have some practical advice for you if you wish to follow Marconi’s example and make a career in Pure Science or reseearch. You must enjoy the research and do it because you enjoy doing it and not because you are aiming for a particular result. You have to lose yourself in the doing of your research work. There is a Chinese story illustrating this concept:
A certain prince, while on a tour of inspection, saw an old man fishing. But his fishing was not real fishing, for he did not fish in order to catch fish but to amuse himself. The Prince wanted to employ him in administration of government. He would not bear to think of his people being deprived of such an influence.
The above story is ascribed to the Chinese sage Chuang Tzu.
I’ll end here. Please visit this site for more articles on Self Help, Spirituality and Politics. If you would like to contact me the link is below.