March 26, 2013

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Rubbing Shoulders with Giants

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” is a quotation usually attributed to Isaac Newton.  Newton did write something like that in a letter to fellow scientist Robert Hooke, but the phrase and the concept were very old and well known, even by the 17th Century.  Similar language is found, for instance, in a 12th Century manuscript by a philosopher known as John of Salisbury, and he attributed the saying to an even earlier time.

It is fitting that Newton should have borrowed the phrase for he was stating that the advances he made in the scientific world were possible only because he could build on the many hundreds of years of thoughts and writings of great men who had preceded him.  That is true for all of us, though our accomplishments may not be as illustrious as Newton’s.

The recognition that Newton was “standing on the shoulders of giants” does not imply that he was merely a dwarf seeing the world from a good vantage point.  Isaac Newton was certainly one of the towering giants of human intellect, and most of the scientific advances of the past 300 years have been made by someone “standing on his shoulders.”

Giant and creative intellects remain among us today, and I feel privileged to have known some of them.  Continue reading


October 6, 2012

Unfortunately, my brother, Lonny Paul Weltzer, passed away earlier this week.  As you may know from what has been written here, he had suffered from a rare blood disease called myelofibrosis and had been fighting the complications of that condition for several years.  When he couldn’t fight it any longer, he passed over peacefully in his sleep just before Midnight on Tuesday.
Lonny and his wife Deb moved to Austin, Texas shortly after he retired in 2010.  His daughter Lisa also lives in Austin with her husband and two sons.  His younger daughter Laurel lives in Greeley, Colorado with her husband and son.
We will have a memorial gathering in the Arvada, Colorado area, where he grew up, in early November; but the plans for that are not yet finalized.  I can let you know about the gathering sometime soon.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a charitable contribution in Lonny’s memory, if you feel inclined to do so.  An organization that seems relevant is the MPN Research Foundation, 180 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1870, Chicago, IL  60601.  Additional information is available at the Foundation’s website – either: or