Javaing on the first day of 2016!

images

Javaing on the first day of 2016! For the last week I have been spending about 4-6 hours a day going through and reviewing some of the java programming I’ve learned in the last year. Serialization, recursion, interfaces and inner classes, arraylists and generics, hash tables, sets, trees, linked lists, collections, maps, iterators, jsp’s and servlets, etc.

This morning as I was putting laundry into the washing machine, I was thinking about programming. Right now, I am off work and class is not in session. I have done freelance writing and art at various points in my life. I love to write fiction and poetry when I have time. I like to draw and paint. I have so many ideas for web applications I would like to create. Programming is another creative tool to make things. On top of that it also has a challenging element of figuring out how things work.

While there are a number of resources to learn how to code, I am thinking of posting some basic tutorials in the nearish future. I am also hoping that at sometime in the relatively nearish future I can add one of my own web applications to this website. Working on it. 🙂

Learning to program…

images-27

Learning to program…

Learning to program…

Maybe you have played video games for forever and have a really great idea for a video game. Maybe you have an idea for an app or a business proposal for an online business.

Not Your Typical Programmer

This is my story of how I began programming. I am not your typical programmer and have not been programming for very long. First off, I am woman. Secondly, I am a career-changer. Admittedly, I am kind of geeky. I write and read fantasy and science fiction, have been known to wear 14 th century garb, watch Dr. Who, and can quote from the original Star Wars movies (yes, I mean a “New Hope”, not those bug-awful prequels).

I took a programming class to learn C++ several years ago. I did well with it then and enjoyed learning about inheritance, polymorphism, and arrays. It was a challenge.  I did not think too much more of it. Teachers have to take classes to keep their teaching certificates current. Despite that I have predominantly worked with young children, the state of Michigan never accepted my coursework in art and psychology as “counting” towards the renewal of my teaching certificate. The state did deem the calculus I took for fun as being worthy of allowing me to renew my teaching certificate to work with young children and children with disabilities.

Anyway, after taking the course I took a job in Aspen, Colorado as a Child Find Coordinator (I have a masters degree in Education and I have worked as a special education teacher) and I moved on.

Life

A few years ago, I found out my mother had lung cancer that had metastasized to her bones, liver and brain. I hastily took a job with a charter school in Michigan to move back to be closer to my mother.

Perhaps, if you are reading this your experience with charter schools has been positive, for me it was not. The for-profit charter school company did not plan appropriately, did not buy curriculum supplies, did not staff the school appropriately, did not understand the at-risk population they had been given the duty to provide an education to, did not provide the full set of meals they were supposed to provide to the children, and made many more mistakes.

I found myself working 80 hour weeks. I bought all the materials and snacks to supply the 27 child Kindergarten classroom I was the teacher of on a salary that had been 2/3 of what I had made in Colorado. Watching co-workers take on what looked like PTSD symptoms while the charter school administration told everyone it was the teachers’ faults if the children did not pass the standardized tests began to take on tragicomedy overtones. We had weekly visits from the Detroit police department to break up fights, sometimes between parents. We had parents threatening staff. Staff had items stolen from classrooms as the charter company cut back on security guards for the school. Not to mention that this school needed security.

Death

My aunt called me near Halloween and told me my mother was dying. I sat with my mother for 4 days while she died. It was a profound and sad experience.

It gave me a new appreciation of life and a sense of my mortality. I soon quit working for the charter school.

After floundering around with another teaching position and not knowing what to do as a career, (because I have worked with children for so long, enjoy working with families and children, and the state of public education in Michigan is currently a travesty) I spent a couple months in bed. Devastated. I spent the time thinking.

Suggestion from a Friend

A friend suggested I take up computer science and programming because I like maths and I was good at the one class I took in programming. Registering for 19 credits in maths and computer science at the local community college, I had no idea what I was getting myself into…

Like writing and art, I don’t think you need to go to school to learn to program. Mostly, you just have to do it. Encounter road blocks and problems and then figure out how to solve them. It can be very frustrating and very rewarding when you do figure out how to make a program work.

Programming is a practical art. It is like poetry in that the simplest solutions are the most elegant. And incidentally often easiest to maintain. Taking classes can move your programming abilities forward and give structure to what can be a difficult enterprise. There are also many online resources to learn programming such as code academy, PluralSight, lynda.com, udemy, and more. Most people I know use stackoverflow on a regular basis to try to help with coding problems. (Hint, look at the second solution to any question posted on stackoverflow.)

Supportive People Are Good

Also, just in general, look for supportive people who can help you. A good friend is a C programmer. He helped me immensely. Sometimes, the “help” has been just in the form of listening to me whine. Sometimes the help is in explaining things to me when the textbooks were obtuse. Sometimes it was just because he made things cool and fun by showing me stuff you could do over networks and more. His help was the extra that made this all more doable.

When I first walked into my computer science classes one of the things that struck me was how predominantly male the classes were. In my introductory classes, we started with 25 -30 people and maybe 3-5 were female. By the end of the semester often a third to half the class had dropped and only myself and maybe one other woman remained.

Girl Develop It

I found myself going to the local Girl Develop It meetup group for moral support. They were amazing. I doubt they always appreciated me turning up and complaining about how I was the only woman in my classes, how I had instructors saying really weird stuff that showed their low expectations for a not twenty-year old woman in their class, etc. However, despite what they might have thought of me, the local Girl Develop It group was fantastic to me and I highly recommend to any woman thinking of getting into computer science they check out their local group.

I have worked most of my life in settings that employed predominantly women. I am going to say the obvious, guys operate differently. There is a good deal of chest thumping and competitiveness. Just like guys won’t often ask for directions, guys won’t say when they cannot do something or don’t know something.

I have helped male classmates with homework and take home exams, only to have them pull hierarchy stuff the next week. I have watched guys who did not know how to approach a programming problem never ask a single question and crash and burn as a result. It kind of boggles my mind. I also have more than once had a male classmate tell me that he was glad I was in the class and asked questions because he had not understood the material either.

Swallowing the Ocean

Learning about computers, computer science and programming has been like swallowing the ocean. It is hard to compartmentalize. When you start learning about one thing it is tied to other things which are tied to other things. The result is that one google search can lead to 20 open windows on 6 different topics.

Learning computer science and programming is simply not linear. It involves learning to think abstractly on multiple layers. You cannot just copy and paste code. That will bite you in the butt eventually because if you cannot understand how the code interacts with other code, errors will arise that are hard to fix. Learning to code and learning computer science takes persistence, time, practice, and being willing to take on challenges. It can be seen as a big risk.

Persisting

Often in computer science fellow students and co-workers are very bright, there is competitiveness, and taking these risks is scarier than it needs to be. No one wants their intelligence and ability to learn to have a negative light cast on it. No one wants to be found wanting. Most of this is poppy-cock that is not worth getting caught up in. I know this from experience and have seen it. Still, it is hard to stay the course and remind myself of this. Learning computer science for me has meant continually re-committing myself, brushing away doubts about my abilities and intelligence, and just putting one foot in front of the other despite set backs (a B in relational databases and watching co-workers assigned to projects while I keep working on training material most recently).

I still have about 50- 60 credit hours to complete to obtain my bachelors degree in computer engineering. I have 3 more classes to complete and I will have completed my associates degree in Java programming. It has been hard. But is anything worth doing ever easy?

And now I have a new book titled “Java EE Design Patterns” by Murat Yener and Alex Theedom to read. For fun. More on another day.

Fermat’s Last Theorem

 

Imagine a cantankerous amateur mathematician on his deathbed leaving in the margins of a book an assertion of a theorem. Because Pierre de Fermat, a lawyer by formal profession, corresponded, collaborated, goaded and vexed the great mathematicians of his day—no less than Newton, Descartes, and Gauss, and proposed so many original mathematical ideas, his assertion was given credibility. And the 350-year quest for a short proof, any proof, of Fermat’s Last Theorem was on.

The assertion is a simple one—reminiscent of Pythagoras’ theorem learned by any first semester algebra student. Rather than hypotenuse squared = a squared + b squared. Fermat’s Theorem is that X^n + Y^n = Z^n where n cannot equal 0 nor can n>2. His exuberant margin notes indicated there was a simple short proof. In 1999 Andrew Wiles and a team of mathematicians proved Fermat’s theorem (and incidentally collected a lot of prize money), but Wiles’ proof was not a short proof. It was more than 100 pages long.

Some people who study the history of mathematics have insinuated that Fermat never had a short proof for his theorem. It has been postulated that he was a very competitive and argumentative man who knew he was dying, so he left the margin note to vex his competition in the mathematical world. Wiles and his team had to use mathematics that had not even been invented when Fermat was alive in order to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem.

However, Fermat was somewhat of an enigma. He remained throughout his life an “amateur” mathematician, (mostly because he did not always offer up publishable proofs of his work). Peter L. Bernstein, in his book “Against the Gods”, described Fermat as “a mathematician of rare power. He was an independent inventor of analytic geometry, he contributed to the early development of calculus, he did research on the weight of the earth, and he worked on light refraction and optics. “ Fermat also corresponded with Blaise Pascal and together they developed the theory of probability after a gambler posed to them the conundrum of why if he betted on a five being rolled on a die four times, in the long run he would win, but if two dice were rolled and he was betting on double sixes the chances were much lower. Fermat’s crowning achievement was that he is credited with developing the modern theory of numbers.

If you are feeling like you want a challenge, the search is still on for a short proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. A mathematician of my acquaintance believes it will be solved not by a mathematician but by a creative and clever individual. There is a $1 million dollar prize offered by a Texas businessman named D. Andrew Beal to any one who can offer a short proof of the theorem. http://www.ams.org/profession/prizes-awards/ams-supported/beal-prize

Unknown-4

Dangerous Women: Ada Lovelace

images-30

Dangerous Women: Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was 26 years old when she wrote what would later be described as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine and earning her the title of being the world’s first computer programmer. Lovelace described herself as an “Analyst and Metaphysician” and her approach as being “poetical science”.

Lovelace was the legitimate daughter of Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella “Annabella” Byron, nee Milbanke. All of Lord Byron’s other children were scandalously born out of wedlock. Lord Byron had wanted a boy and was disappointed that Lovelace was a girl. At his encouragement, Lovelace’s mother moved herself and the baby to her parents’ home while Ada was only one month old. Lord Byron signed separation papers shortly after; never attempted to gain custody of little Ada; and left England for good a few months later. Lovelace’s mother was bitter. She spoke frequently about Lord Byron’s depravity and immoral behavior. Lovelace’s mother encouraged her daughter’s mathematical interests in order to prevent Lovelace from developing the poetical insanity of her father. The sensational nature of the relationship between Lovelace’s mother and father made Ada famous in Victorian circles. Lovelace’s mother constantly feared that Lord Byron might try to obtain custody of Ada. While Annabella Milbanke had little interest in raising her daughter and left Ada to the care of her grandmother, Annabella did not want Lord Byron to have custody of the child. She wrote letters feigning interest in Ada. And told her mother to keep the letters in case they needed to argue for custody of Ada. Lady Annabella Milbanke’s stories about Lord Byron and “concerns” that her daughter might develop to be as depraved led to several of Lady Milbanke’s friends watching Ada closely as she became teenager for any signs of immoral behavior. Ada named these people “the Furies.”

In the midst of these emotionally difficult circumstances, Ada Lovelace grew up in her grandparents’ home. As a young child she was frequently ill. Despite her illnesses, Lovelace pursued her studies. She was privately tutored in mathematics and science by such Victorian intellectuals as: William Frend, Augustus De Morgan, and Mary Somerville. Frend was a radical social reformer. De Morgan was a reknowned British mathematician and logician. Somerville was a noted researcher and scientific author. When Lovelace was twelve, she decided she wanted to fly. She went about the project methodically—she studied the anatomy of birds; considered the length of their wingspan in proportion to their bodies, investigated different materials such as paper, wires and feathers; and she decided what equipment would be necessary for flight which included steam. She wrote a book, complete with illustration plates, about her investigation to create a flying machine. When Lovelace was seventeen, De Morgan wrote a letter to her mother stating that in his opinion Lovelace could become “an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence.”

Lovelace was first introduced to Charles Babbage when she was seventeen years old. Lovelace’s prodigious mathematical abilities lead to her working with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Machine. He called her “The Enchantress of Numbers.”

Lovelace believed that intuition and imagination were important to use when employing mathematical and scientific concepts. Her creativity combined with intellectual ability allowed her to imagine creating a mathematical model of how the brain works. She could conceptualize leaps with mathematics, using mathematics to discern the unseen and test theories, creating diverse with mathematics.

In a paper she translated from the work of an Italian engineer on the Analytical Machine, Lovelace included her own elaborate set of notes, simply titled “Notes”. These notes included the algorithm– which was a complete method for using the Analytical Engine to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers. If the algorithm had been run, it would have worked. Lovelace was a visionary. She could see applications of computers far beyond simply calculating numbers. She pondered heady questions such as how individuals and society relate to technology. She wrote

 

The Analytical Engine “might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine…

“Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

 

Lovelace died of uterine cancer when she was 36 years old. She was brilliant and far ahead of her time.

 

Inspiring Science

Massive solar flares, a Mayan calendar that goes to at least 3500, active sand dunes on Mars, Vesta is a proto-planet, a material scientist has found new atomic structures in metallic glass, and this…
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/05/11/giant-pulsing-sea-blob-identified/

So much to marvel at and be inspired by!

Weight Hacker

I stumbled across this site today. It is about weight loss. Weight loss for geeks who like computers and research and information.

Check out Weight Hacker at: http://www.weighthacker.com/

http://www.weighthackers.com/

The site features quite a number of descriptions of research studies that could make weight loss easier! The creator of weight hacker is Craig Engler who lost 65 pounds and has written a book with the information on his blog.

What Might Happen Between Now and 2111?


This evening I have been reading New Scientist and came across an article about major science news from 2011. Here is the link to the New Scientist article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228444.900-review-of-2011-the-years-biggest-news-at-a-glance.html. It was a quite remarkable year in science. Just to give you a taste:

In physics, scientists at CERN managed to bottle atoms of anti-hydrogen for 1000 seconds. This doesn’t sound like a long time but it is about 10,000 times longer than has been managed before and it is ANTI-hydrogen, as in anti-matter that doesn’t get on well with regular matter. It is claimed, and this is still being debated, that neutrinos travel faster than light. Lastly, the universal theory of physics received a boost when two teams of scientists at the Large Hadron Collider both announced evidence for the elusive Higgs boson particle that would be the key particle to the universe. Of course the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron collider was predicted by Eloi Cole who was found rummaging in bins outside the facility back in April 2010. He told authorities that “Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone.”

In aeronautics and space sciences, the space shuttle Atlantis landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the last time in July. This was the last space shuttle flight after 135 missions. The space shuttle was a dream of moving people and materials into space with a re-usable craft, unlike the previous rockets that had gone into orbit and to the moon. I can remember watching the landing of Columbia in April 1981 after its successful orbital test flight. When Atlantis landed in July it was the end of an era. The world’s first 3-D printed aircraft made its maiden flight in the UK in August. The parts took 2 days to design and 5 days to print which is quite remarkable. In the 1940’s, the United States in conjunction with Henry Ford invested in the Willow Run manufacturing plant to create B-24 bombers. At first the plant was called the Willit Run Plant and it took months for it to actually produce a single airplane. In November, NASA launched a Martian rover named Curiosity as part of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft. It will land on the red planet sometime in August 2012.

In medical science, in July it was announced that not only did antiretroviral drugs help those with HIV to stay alive, the drugs also helped to reduce the transmission of the virus. In November, the cognitive decline of two people with Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by using electrical impulses on brain tissue. Both of these announcements are good news and possible breakthroughs for diseases that are being elusive to find cures for.

In the world of computer science, while people used social media to organize street protests last January in Syria, Tunisia, and elsewhere, the Egyptian government cut its citizenry off from the Internet. This is a far cry from the pamphlets of the Enlightenment Era. In April, a software bot called LIDA showed the first hints of consciousness. Recent research into artificial intelligence has also lead to new understandings in regards to how humans formulate thoughts and express these thoughts through language. The Language of Thought theory that holds that humans have an underlying logical thought process similar to natural languages was bolstered. Sony Playstation’s network was hacked into and the personal details of 77 million users were compromised and this forced Sony to take their Network offline. The total population of the UK is just over 62 million to give this some perspective. Ongoing and recent research also shows that the skills that people learn by gaming transfer to real life.

These stories are just a small smattering of the science that was announced this last year. We live in such a magnificent and wondrous universe with so many things to investigate and learn about. Just looking at the marvelous things in these stories– bottling anti-matter, “printing” aircraft parts in 7 days, slowing the progress and transmission of a cunning virus, having 77 million people’s personal information illegally accessed. All of this a hundred years ago would have seemed like science fiction. What might happen between now and 2111?

Synthetic Telepathy


Synthetic telepathy is the art of electronically transfering thought directly to and from a brain. And in 2008 the US military gave a $4 million dollar grant to develop such technology to a team of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland. More recently a $6.3 million grant was given to the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center at Albany Medical College. A lot of money is going towards the goal of being able to read and transmit thoughts.

Mediums, clairvoyants, and psychics aside, the idea of reading minds and creating a “thought helmet” is not a new idea. E.E. Smith proposed such an idea in his 1928 serialized novel titled “Skylark of Space.” Further, in the 1960’s a researcher strapped an EEG to his head and, with some training, could stop and start his brain’s alpha waves to compose Morse code messages. In the last few years there has been a great flurry of activity around the notion of using EEG technology to detect brain wave patterns. Recent research has included using this technology to help comatose patients to communicate and to scan people to look for guilty subjects that might be terrorists. A recent issue of the magazine Discover has an article titled “Silent Warrior” and it examines the research being done at Albany Medical College. At Albany Medical College, researchers are studying where exactly in the brain different words appear as thought. To do this neurosurgeons have placed directly on the surface of volunteers’ naked cortexes 64 electrodes that monitor brain activity. The volunteers who have had a portion of their skulls surgically removed are patients with severe seizure disorder and they will benefit from participating in the study because it will be determined where exactly their seizures originate so that those areas can be removed and healthy tissue left untouched. So far the location of the vowels “ooh” and “aah” have been determined.

This might not sound like much, but keep in mind when babies learn to speak they start with crying and vowels. Babbling consonants comes later. And word formation follows.

So perhaps soon we will have the technology that will allow a swat team to enter a dangerous situation in silence and to remain silent as they communicate via synthetic telepathy to allow commands to be issued and locations to be reported. Or maybe the technology will be used to develop more responsive video games. Or to allow a paralyzed person to move a prosthetic limb. Or maybe TSA will use a type of thought helmet to scan people’s thoughts in the airport to hunt for terrorists.

Perhaps we will no longer be isolated in our own heads.

Bad Science and Harmful Beliefs


Today a friend of mine sent me a link to the blog Bad Science that is written by Ben Goldacre for a specific post titled “Matthias Rath– steal this chapter.” Ben Goldacre wrote a book titled “Bad Science: The Doctor WIll Sue You Now” about some of the things that he writes about on his blog such as the pseudo-science of homeopathy and how to evaluate a bad argument. This particular post Goldacre writes about Matthias Rath who is supposedly a former medical researcher from the Linus Pauling Institute. Rath is a very wealthy man and has a large following amongst people interested in alternative healing. He sells vitamins and touts the virtues of a nutritious diet which is all quite good, but he goes so far as to say that vitamin supplements can prevent HIV and cure AIDS. And he has been pedaling his vitamins in South Africa where the AIDS epidemic has been devastating. Please take a look at: http://www.badscience.net/2009/04/matthias-rath-steal-this-chapter/ This chapter in the book could not be published originally when the book was published because Rath was suing Goldacre.

As I read this post I thought about the various beliefs and misconceptions that abound and how they obscure the truth. And hurt people. Things like:

1. Vitamins can cure AIDS and prevent HIV infection. A good diet complete with beetroot, lemon peel, and African potatoes will make a person healthy.

2. Abstinence is the only way to prevent teen pregnancy.

3. AIDS is not real. There is no such thing as HIV. It is a moral judgement because of bad behavior. Or alternately, a curse from God and if one just acts in an upright manner the curse will be removed. Or it is caused by anti-retroviral medications.

4. It is possible to pull oneself up by one’s own efforts and anyone who isn’t doing so just doesn’t want to succeed. Poor people are poor because they are lazy.

5. There is no such thing as global warming and climate change. It is all a matter of a conspiracy for climatologists and scientists to rake in big bucks doing research and getting tax payer dollars in the form of grants.

6. We all create our own reality. Seriously think about this one and take it to its logical conclusions.

I could add more. Can you think of others?

Revolutionary Scientist: Alfred Russel Wallace


Most people have heard of Charles Darwin and “On the Origin of Species” which he wrote to put forth the ideas of evolution, natural selection, and the transmutation of species. Evolution as a concept was a radical notion because it ran counter to the idea that all species had been created immutable by the Christian god. For the time period this was a revolutionary idea.

Few people know however that the idea of the transmutation of species had been around for quite some time. It had been proposed by such scientific minds of the time as Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin, Geoffroy Sainte-Hilaire, and Robert Grant among others. It was considered somewhat of a fringe idea. A radical notion. Many traveling naturalists like Alfred Russel Wallace believed in the transmutation of species.

Wallace was a self made Englishman of Scottish descent who was born in Wales. At various times he worked as a surveyor, a civil engineer, an architect, and a teacher of drawing, mapmaking, and surveying. While he was employed as a teacher he spent a great deal of time in the Leicester library where he met entomologist Henry Bates who had recently written a paper about beetles. Bates introduced Wallace to the idea of collecting and studying insects. This friendship continued for a very long time and when Wallace decided that he wanted to travel abroad as a naturalist, he and Bates traveled together to Brazil. Their plan was to collect specimens in the Amazon rainforest to sell to collectors in the UK. They also wanted to gather data to support the idea of the transmutation of species.

After of number of years traveling in South America, Wallace decided to head back to the UK. The boat that he was on caught fire and all of his specimens were lost except those that he had sent on ahead. Despite that he was able to only salvage a portion of his diaries, he wrote six scientific papers and two books. From here he made contacts with a number of prominent naturalists. The most notable of these being Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin was gravely aware that the theories behind evolution and natural selection were extraordinarily controversial. He had written a treatise on his ideas that he wrapped in paper, sealed, and put away in a closet under his stairs. It was not to be published until after his death and he had provided resources for its publication.

And then he received a correspondence from Wallace, who was now traveling in Malay and who had continued to write about the transmutation of species, outlining many of the theories that he had already written about and that were hidden under the stairs. Wallace was asking Darwin to review what he had written and if he thought it was good enough, Wallace was asking Darwin to recommend it to Sir Charles Lyell.

Lyell’s belief in the immutability of species had already been shaken by a previous paper that Wallace had written. Darwin showed what Wallace had written to Joseph Hooker and to Lyell who encouraged him to publish prior to Wallace to establish being the first to think of the ideas. Darwin sent the manuscript to Charles Lyell with a letter saying “he could not have made a better short abstract! Even his terms now stand as heads of my chapters … he does not say he wishes me to publish, but I shall, of course, at once write and offer to send to any journal.” After this while Darwin dealt with family issues, Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker decided to publish Wallace’s essay in a joint presentation together with Darwin’s unpublished writings which highlighted Darwin’s priority. Wallace, who was in Malay at the time when the presentation was given to the Linnean Society, accepted everything happily– after the fact. While having the papers presented jointly relegated Wallace to the position of “co-discover”, it also associated him with Charles Darwin who was more widely known and respected. Further, Wallace was not in the same societal class as Darwin, Lyell, and Hooker. Being associated with Darwin gave Wallace access to the highest levels of the scientific community.

While Darwin and Wallace’s ideas were presented together, there were some important differences. Darwin emphasised competition between individuals of the same species to survive and reproduce. Wallace thought the idea that environmental pressures on varieties and species forcing them to become adapted to their local environment was more important. Wallace discovered the so-called Wallace line that runs through Indonesia and divides the region into two distinct parts. One area has more species that are similar to the species on Australia and the other region has species similar to those of Asia. Wallace is sometimes called “the father of biogeography.”

Some scholars, such as Gregory Bateson the preeminent anthropologist and cybernetician, have pointed out that another difference between the ideas of the two men is that Wallace appeared to have envisioned natural selection as a kind of feedback mechanism keeping species and varieties adapted to their environment. Wallace wrote:

“The action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow.”

Gregory Bateson wrote that he thought Wallace had “probably said the most powerful thing that’d been said in the 19th Century”. Scientist and theoreticians are still exploring the connections between natural selection and systems theory.

Wallace was intelligent, open minded, and revolutionary in his thoughts. He advocated for land reform and socialism. He opposed social Darwinism and eugenics. He was an environmentalist and a spiritualist. He supported women’s suffrage and wrote about the wastefulness of militarism. He was a man ahead of his time.