Should I live a life of solitude like Newton and Euler?

In summary, the conversation discusses the potential correlation between being single for life and success in math and physics. Some argue that isolation and solitude can lead to great accomplishments, while others point out the importance of social interactions and collaboration in the field. The concept of correlation not implying causation is also mentioned. It is concluded that while hard work and dedication are crucial, completely neglecting socialization is not a healthy or effective way to achieve success in these fields.
  • #1
flyingpig
2,579
1
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?
 
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  • #3
long term solitude is neither healthy nor fun
 
  • #4
My wife and I have been practicing "solitude" for 35+ years. It works well for us. We associate with family, neighbors, friends, etc as we like. A few years ago, we added a dog. He likes "solitude" too, though he is eager to meet any stranger that even looks at him.

Anyway, if I had been single and alone for the last 35 years, I'd probably not have survived it. If you have some severe ups and downs or health problems, it's best to have a significant other to anchor you.

Being isolated from others is not going to make you smarter or more well-prepared to revolutionize any field in math or science. Try to have a comfortable, balanced family life so you can have a "safe zone" to reside in when you are not engaged in work or commerce. IMO, solitude is not going to let you flog your brain into doing more than you can do now, without risking behavioral problems or delusion.
 
  • #5
If you're successful in math/sciences, then you probably have enough math knowledge to optimize your chances of achieving your most successful marriage possible, so why would a successful mathematician/scientist pass that up?

Of course, there's just one problem with possessing the knowledge necessary to optimize your chances of achieving the best marriage for you. The best you can do is achieve about a 36.8% chance making the best marriage possible for you (1/e).

This is because you don't know how many prospective marriage partners you'll have in life to choose between and you don't know if you've already turned down the best prospect or if a better prospect will come along as soon as you marry "the best so far".

In fact, once you make your choice, you'll have no way to really know if you made the best possible choice. You'll only know the probability of having made the best possible choice.

As ryan noted, some mathematicians/scientists become fixated on that idea that there's 63.2% chance they didn't make the best marriage possible and change the rules of the game a little, just to find out whether they won or not.

However unhealthy or unethical that may seem, it's still probably a healthier option that becoming so fixated on the idea that there's at least a 63.2% chance of picking the wrong marriage partner that you decide to take no marriage partners at all. That actually gives you the worst probability of picking the best marriage possible. You'd do better marrying a random woman in a bar!

But, yeah, having an obsession with math and probabilities could sometimes be a disadvantage - especially when you scratch out "best person I could have married" on your anniversary card and hand write in "36.8% chance you're the best person I could have married".
 
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  • #6
What about the life as a hermit? If that is even possible...
 
  • #7
flyingpig said:
What about the life as a hermit? If that is even possible...
If you only go to town on when you need to. We have a hermit named Ted in prison who claimed to be pretty [STRIKE]smart.[/STRIKE] I have to reverse this, out of respect for an older paper-mill consultant that mentored me. He used to say "That guy (usually referring to an engineer) is very intelligent, but he ain't too smart."

The old friend was called a field engineer by his employer, but like me, he worked his way up though the field with no degree. He was a quirky character, but I loved working with him. He gave me the lead role in some troubleshooting projects when he thought I was better-equipped to handle them. That was a big deal to me! Much better than isolation and solitude. Math, sciences and engineering concerns are evolving 'way too fast for schools to keep up, so solitude and self-study (I hope we don't have to ride out a plague, like Newton did) won't suffice.
 
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  • #8
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

Have you ever heard of 'correlation does not imply causation'.
 
  • #9
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

There is not any pattern, I think.

Hard work...hard work ... hard work... with devotion is all that is needed
 
  • #10
xxChrisxx said:
Have you ever heard of 'correlation does not imply causation'.

Yes, but still tempting
 
  • #11
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

Being great in something is not about mimicking certain traits about great people, it's about actually going out there and being great. You're falling into the same trap that, for example, Nike pulls on idiotic people. Buy this shoe that Michael Jordan wears and you'll be as good as Michael Jordan! Also, wear his headband. And eat what he eats.

No one has successfully become Michael Jordan by buying Nike products.
 
  • #12
No, but I can neglect all human socialization and focus on Physics/math
 
  • #13
flyingpig said:
No, but I can neglect all human socialization and focus on Physics/math

Yah that's a recipe for a psychotic episode... or 5. What makes you think that idea is anything but ridiculous?
 
  • #14
Not only is completely neglecting socializing unhealthy, it would probably harm your academic career as well. Part of being a successful scientist/mathematician is learning how to have productive interactions with your colleagues. Only a handful of people (such as Newton and Euler) can produce breakthrough discoveries all on their own.
 
  • #15
What makes you think Newton and Euler lived lives of solitude? Newton seems highly involved in the scientific establishment of the day, and Euler married and had 13 children.
 
  • #16
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

If you want to be like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. . .
 
  • #17
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

Iam also contemplating on same for quite some time.I guess it works for some like grigory perelman,but I do not think a hermit life guarantees a success.The only thing that counts is hard work and self determination.
 
  • #18
No, humans need socialization to be humans. Maybe an autist could do it, I don't know.
 
  • #19
Tosh5457 said:
No, humans need socialization to be humans. Maybe an autist could do it, I don't know.

Is that an autist from Boston or from Melbourne? I think an autist from Boston might, but I think an Australian autist would have a hard time living without talking about someone else's secrets.
 
  • #20
What are the chances of me interacting with a girl? I am in a major that no girls really exist, with the exception of professors which I do not plan to "hit on"...
 
  • #21
Well, you can interact with girls that have different majors besides your own. There should be no reason why you can't talk to anyone. Just go ahead and start a conversation with someone of interest :)
 
  • #22
The answer to this question depends on how passionate you are about doing physics and mathematics. The true meaning of life is to be happy and content to what you are doing and what you have. If you have fun doing these kind of things more than socializing with others, then by all means, why stop?
 
  • #23
Hey fp, I can't message you. Contact me.
 
  • #24
flyingpig said:
Yeah is there any correlation between being single for the rest of your life and very successful in Math/physics?

None in my experience. I've been single for 25 years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, but I'm not really successful in my research. I pale in comparison to the type of students who typically get admitted into grad school with little difficulty, all of whom I've met have partners or have had several.
 
  • #25
The OP of this thread is long gone folks, no need to keep giving advice.
 

Related to Should I live a life of solitude like Newton and Euler?

1. Should I completely isolate myself from society like Newton and Euler?

No, it is not necessary to completely isolate yourself from society like Newton and Euler in order to lead a successful and productive life. While some people may thrive in solitude, others may find it difficult and isolating. It is important to find a balance that works for you.

2. Will living a life of solitude make me more intelligent?

There is no guarantee that isolating yourself from society will make you more intelligent. While Newton and Euler were both brilliant scientists, their intelligence was likely influenced by a combination of factors such as their upbringing, education, and natural abilities. Solitude may have played a role in their work, but it is not the sole reason for their intelligence.

3. Is a life of solitude necessary for scientific breakthroughs?

Not necessarily. While some scientists may prefer to work in solitude, collaboration and interaction with others can also lead to significant scientific breakthroughs. Many scientific discoveries have been made through teamwork and exchanging ideas with others.

4. Can a life of solitude be detrimental to one's mental health?

It is possible for a life of solitude to have a negative impact on one's mental health. Isolation and lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. It is important to have a support system and engage in healthy social activities, even if you prefer to spend most of your time alone.

5. Are there any benefits to living a life of solitude?

There can be benefits to living a life of solitude, such as increased focus and productivity, self-reflection and introspection, and the opportunity to pursue personal interests without distractions. However, it is important to consider the potential downsides and find a balance that works for you.

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