Archive for September 7th, 2007


His book translated into Flemish here.


Read ON THIS LINK about Marais.Have you read….”The soul of the white Ant”…or…”Die siel van die Mier!” by Eugene Marais… if not….you have a gap in your culture…:))….get “The soul of the white ant..” and read it…

And……on THIS LINK you can read his poem…”Dans van die reen”…which I translated into English for my blogreaders….”Dance of the rain”…enjoy!

Where is the soul of a termite, or the soul of man?
“Someone once said that all behaviourism in nature could be referred to as hunger. This saying has been repeated thousands of times yet is false. Hunger itself is pain – the most severe pain in its later stages that the body knows except thirst, which is even worse. Love may be regarded as a hunger, but it is not pain.
“What protects animals, what enables them to continue living, what assures the propagation of race? A certain attribute of organic matter. As soon as one finds life, one finds this attribute. It is inherent in life; like most natural phenomena it is polarised, there is a negative and a positive pole. The negative pole is pain; the positive pole is sex. This attribute may be called the saving attribute of life; and it is here where one comes closest to what appears like a common purpose beyond nature.” (Eugène Marais, The Soul of the White Ant, 1989:261)

Eugène Nielen Marais[1] (1871-1936) was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet, and writer. Although Marais is remembered by South Africans more for his contribution to Afrikaans literature than for science, he has been described as being a scientist far ahead of his time.

He began life after leaving college as a journalist, then studied medicine for four years, but eventually took up law and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. He was a scholar and a man of culture.

However, it was not only as jurist that Marais distinguished himself as a brilliant (yet eccentric) character in South African history. He has been described as “… a human community in one man. He was a poet, an advocate, a journalist, a story-teller, a drug-addict, a psychologist, a natural scientist.”

In 1910, he abandoned his law practice and retreated to the remote Waterberg (‘Water Mountain) – the mountain area north-west of Pretoria. Here he studied two creatures – termites and baboons that, on the face of it, had nothing in common. Both fascinated him, as did all wild creatures.

Settling near a large group of chacma baboons, he became the first man to conduct a prolonged study of primates in the wild. It was in this period that he produced My Friends the Baboons and provided the major inspiration for The Soul of the Ape.

His studies of termites led him to the conclusion that the colony should be considered as a single organism. Although Marais could not have known it, he was anticipating some of the ideas of Richard Dawkins (1941— ). He also observed chacma baboons at length and he was the father of the scientific study of the behaviour of primates. Because Marais refused to translate his works into English, they remained almost unknown outside of southern Africa, which is the only place in the world where Afrikaans is spoken to any degree.

Termites are social insects and are most closely related to the cockroaches with which they share a close common ancestor (?). They are among the most important groups of animals on land because they play a vital role in breaking down dead plant material. They have symbiotic flagellates or bacteria in their hindguts that are able to break down plant cellulose to a digestible form and in the subfamily Macrotermitinae the termites culture and eat fungi in their nests using dead plant material.

Ants (order: Hymenoptera; family: Formicidae) are often confused with termites because they are also social, and termites are sometimes called ‘white ants’ (a confusing term). Ants, like wasps (from which they evolved (?)), have a constriction half way down their body whereas in termites the body is uniformly broad. The prominent mounds you see in the South African countryside are made by termites not ants. Whereas ant workers are all females, in termites, workers can be both male and female. In ants, mating occurs before the nest is founded and the male dies after mating – he does not become a king, and live and mate with the queen in the new colony, as in termites.

Marais published his conclusions about termites as a series of speculative articles, written entirely in Afrikaans and appearing only in local newspapers, as The Soul of the White Ant. While observing the natural behaviour of these creatures, he noticed that firstly, the whole termitary (a termite nest) had to be considered as a single organism whose organs work like those of a human being.

Termitaries, as one sees them so frequently in Central and Southern Africa, are tall, compacted columns of earth sometimes four to five metres high. Within the terminary lives the society, with its castes and its ranks, in countless numbers.

Marais concluded that all members of the colony and the terminary itself form what is essentially a single living organism. The terminary itself is the body. The various castes in the society have the functions of the body’s organs, with fungus gardens contributing the digestive tract, soldiers and workers the cells of the blood stream, the queen the brain as well as the reproductive organs, and even the sexual flight executing the function of sperm and eggs. How all communicate (pheromones, telepathy?) we do not know, but the ‘soul’ of the termite – the psyche, we should say – is the property of the entire society. He concluded secondly that the actions within the termitary were completely, instinctive.

His work on termites led him to a series of stunning discoveries. He developed a fresh and radically different view of how a termite colony works, and indeed, of what a termite colony is. This was far in advance of any contemporary work. In 1923, he began writing a series of popular articles on termites for the Afrikaans press and in 1925; he published a major article summing up his work in the Afrikaans magazine Die Huisgenoot.

He published The Soul of the White Ant (1937) and then My Friends the Baboons (1939) which was posthumously published after he had taken his life.

His book Die Siel van die Mier (The Soul of the Ant, but usually given in English as The Soul of the White Ant) was plagiarised by Nobel Laureate Maurice Maeterlinck, who published The Life of the White Ant in 1926, falsely claiming many of Marais’ revolutionary ideas as his own. Maeterlinck was able to do this because he was Flemish and therefore understood Dutch, from which Afrikaans was derived. Maeterlinck was as a consequence one of the few people in Europe who had read Marais’ original texts.

Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) was a leading literary figure of the time. In 1911, he won the Nobel Prize for literature following the success of his play The Bluebird. In 1901, he had written The Life of the Bee, a mixture of natural history and philosophy, but he was a dramatist and a poet, not a scientist.

In 1926, one year after Die Huisgenoot published Marais’ article, Maeterlinck stole Marais’ work and published it under his own name, without acknowledgement, in a book titled The Life of the White Ant, first published in French and soon afterwards in English and several other languages.

Maeterlinck’s book was met with outrage in South Africa. Later, in 1935, Marais wrote to Dr Winifred de Kok in London. She was beginning her English translation of The Soul of the White Ant, “You must understand that it was a theory which was not only new to science but which no man born of woman could have arrived at without a knowledge of all the facts on which it was based; and these Maeterlinck quite obviously did not possess. He even committed the faux pas of taking certain Latin scientific words invented by me to be current and generally accepted Latin terms.

“The publishers in South Africa started crying to high heaven and endeavoured to induce me to take legal action in Europe, a step for which I possessed neither the means nor inclination. The press in South Africa, however, quite valorously waved the cudgels in my behalf. The Johannesburg Star [South Africa’s biggest English-speaking daily newspaper] published plagiarised portions that left nothing to the imagination of readers.

“The Afrikaans publishers of the original articles communicated the facts to one of our ambassadorial representatives in Europe and suggested that Maeterlinck be approached. Whether or not this was done, I never ascertained. In any case, Maeterlinck, like other great ones on Olympus, maintained a mighty and dignified silence.”

Marais took legal action against Maeterlinck but gained little satisfaction.

Marais began writing Soul of the Ape in 1916, but never finished it. It was published posthumously years later. His theory was that, unlike termites, baboons – and by extension all primates – had the ability to memorise the relationship between cause and effect. They could therefore vary their behaviour voluntarily. While termites were instinctive, the mind of baboons was based on ‘causal memory’.

The reason for this difference, according to Marais, was natural selection. According to him, natural selection was not, as Darwin had insisted, ‘the survival of the fittest’, but rather ‘the line of least resistance’. Those species best able to adapt to their specific environment survived, while those not able to, would become extinct. Natural selection, therefore, had the tendency to both localise and specialise species.

The conclusions to which he came were new and radical and might well have had an influence in Europe. However, Marais was half a hemisphere away, half a century too soon and writing in a language no one could understand.

The Soul of the White Ant was brought under the attention of the world only by being seemingly plagiarised by a Belgian Nobel prize laureate, Maurice Maeterlinck. The Soul of the Ape was incomplete and originally only published in South Africa.

Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant, in which he describes the organic unity of the termitary and compares it with the human body. This theory aroused great interest at the time and was generally accepted as an original one formulated by Maeterlinck. The fact that an unknown South African observer had developed the theory after many years of indefatigable labour was not generally known in Europe.

The 1927 files at The Star to which Marais referred were checked and confirmed by American author and social anthropologist Robert Ardrey (1908-1980) forty years later. “Maeterlinck’s guilt is clear”, Ardrey wrote. It is easily confirmed by a comparison of the two books. Marais’ point is indisputable: his picture of the termitary is startlingly original, it could not possibly have been hypothesised or inferred without a great deal of original research, at the very least – and yet there it is in Maeterlinck’s book.

Yet it is impossible to ignore the fact that Marais’ work is revolutionary, especially if one takes into account the time and place in which it was written. Robert Ardrey says in his introduction to Marais’ work on ants and baboons published in 1973, “As a scientist he was unique, supreme in his time, yet a worker in a science unborn.”

He was master of a science that was only invented fifty years later (ethology). It was sixty years before anyone else attempted to study what he had studied (ape societies in the wild). He described natural mechanisms and systems that were not identified by mainstream science until forty years later (pheromones), and neither science nor society has yet caught up with many of his findings and conclusions. Marais made no direct contribution to entomology, but his ghost continues to haunt the discipline.

His fourth book, The Soul of the Ape, completed in 1919, might just have made him world famous if it had been published then, but in fact half a century was to pass before it appeared in book form in 1969, thirty-three years after his death.

Their observations and the insights Marais gained from them formed the basis of a serious work later to be called The Soul of the Ape.

They also led to a more popular work, Burgers van die Berge (Citizens of the Mountains, translated as My Friends the Baboons), first published in book form in 1938, two years after Marais’ death.

In 1948, twelve years after Marais’ death, Nikolaas Tinbergen[2] (1907-1988) reformulated Marais’ extremely important concept of the phyletic (inborn) and causal (acquired) memory.

Thirteen years later, in 1961, Washburn and De Vore[3] published a lengthy article, ‘The Social Life of Baboons’, in the Scientific American. Though some of their observations were contested, they were seen as the first serious observers of baboons in the wild (meaning not in captivity), a title which surely Marais had earned fifty years before. His notes on baboon behaviour in The Soul of the Ape are regarded as honest and reliable by modern ethologists.

When The Soul of the Ape was finally published in 1969, it was too late.

Read the rest of the article….HERE on Authorsden. The link will open in a new window.

Winter’s Night

Oh the small wind is frigid and spare
and bright in the dim-light and bare
as wide as God’s merciful boon
the veld lies in starlight and gloom
and on the high lands
spread through burnt bands
the grass-seed, astir, like beckoning hands.

Oh East-wind gives mournful measure to song
Like the lilt of a lovelorn lass who’s been wronged
In every grass fold
bright dewdrop takes hold
and promptly pales to frost in the cold!

Translated by J.W. Marchant

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make sure you are there…to win!

Another link not to miss…and see for yourself…the beauty!

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METRO newspaper….on the tube…
Thief picks wrong house to burgle
Friday, September 7, 2007

Of all the houses in all of Britain, he had to break into this one.
A bungling burglar was locked up on Thursday after breaking into a flat while its police officer owner was at home. Jason Marshall forced the front door and began sneaking around when Sgt Abdul Haque came downstairs.
In a flash of inspiration, Marshall explained he had come to clean the windows but was told: ‘Not here you’re not. You’re nicked.’ Sgt Haque grabbed him and called for back-up. A search revealed he was carrying 9g of heroin.
The 31-year-old later admitted one count of burglary, possession of a class A drug and asked for 14 other burglary offences to be taken into consideration.
He had recently stolen more than £5,500 worth of property, a court heard. Marshall received a three-year sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court

Read the Metro heretoo.

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Albert Einstein, born March 14, 1879, was a theoretical physicist who is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. He proposed the Theory of Relativity, which greatly advanced humankind’s understanding of the universe. He also made major contributions to the development of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and cosmology. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.
Einstein had an interest in chess. In 1936, he told a reporter that he played chess as a boy. In 1927 Einstein met
Emanuel Lasker in Berlin, and they became good friends. Einstein called Lasker “a Renaissance man.”
In 1931 a pamphlet was written called “One Hundred Authors Against Einstein.” One of the authors was Emanuel Lasker. Lasker thought Einstein’s theory of relativity was wrong and that the speed of light was limited due to particles in space. Lasker did not think there was a perfect vacuum.
Einstein is quoted as saying: “Chess grips its exponent, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom and independence of even the strongest character cannot remain unaffected.”

Click HERE to play through the game played in 1933 by Einstein and Oppenheimer. The link will open in a new window.

Albert Einstein (1879 C-1955) was born at Ulm in Wurttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. The family moved to Munich in 1880. He may have first played chess in Munich. In 1936, he did tell a reporter that he played chess as a boy. He grew up in Munich, but left at age 15 when his parents moved to Italy in 1894. His parents then sent him to Switzerland to finish secondary school, which he completed in 1896.

In 1896 he renounced his German citizenship and enrolled in a Swiss technical school. He graduated with a teaching diploma in 1900 and became a Swiss citizen in 1901.

In 1902 he had an illegitmate daughter (Lieserl) with Mileva Maric, a Serbian classmate and mathematician. Einstein could not find a teaching post. Someone helped him get a job at the Swiss Patent Office as an assistant examiner.

He married Mileva in 1903. In 1904 his first son, Hans Albert, was born.

In 1905, at the age of 25, he received his doctorate after submitting his dissertation “On a new determination of molecular dimensions.” That same year he wrote articles on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect, special relativity, and energy equivalency. The paper on the photoelectric effect later won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

In 1908, Dr. Einstein was licensed in Berne, Switzerland as a teacher and lecturer. In 1910, he second son, Eduard, was born.

In 1914 he moved to Berlin as a professor at the local university and became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. He also served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics.

In 1915 he presented a series of lectures on the theory of general relativity.

In 1919 he divorced Mileva and married his first cousin, Elsa Einstein. At age 43, she was 3 years older than him (he was now 40).

In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect.

In 1927 Einstein met Emanuel Lasker in Berlin and they became good friends.

In 1928 Einstein wrote to Dr. Emanuel Lasker, congratulating him on his 60th birthday, calling Lasker a Renaissance man.

In 1930 he received a patent for a new type of refrigerator.

In 1931 a pamphlet was written called One Hundred Authors Against Einstein. One of the authors was Emanuel Lasker.

Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933 and there was a nationalist hatred of Einstein, accusing him of creating “Jewish physics.” Einstein then fled Germany and was given permanent residence in the United States. He accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 54 years old when he first arrived in the USA. The director of the Institute was Dr. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967). Emanuel Lasker also fled Berlin about the same time that Einstein left. Both of their homes were ransacked by the Nazis.

Einstein was an amateur chessplayer. He played chess with his neighbors and friends. He always had a chessboard set up at home. He was probably most active in chess in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

In 1934 Einstein visited friends and relaxed with a game of chess. When he met children, he asked them if they liked music or could they play chess. He would occasionally teach a child the basics of chess, then tell that child to practice, then would play that child a game of chess the next time they met.

In October, 1936 Einstein was interviewed by the New York Times. In that interview, he said, “I do not play any games. There is no time for it. When I get through work I don’t want anything which requires the working of the mind.” Einstein preferred playing the violin and sailing. Einstein did say he played chess as a boy.

In 1937, Einstein’s second wife, Elsa, died.

In 1938, Paul Nemenyi, a Jewish Hungarian scientist, fled to America and headed to Princeton to consult with Albert Einstein. He found a job working for Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, at the University of Iowa’s hydrolgy lab. There are strong indications that Nemenyi is the biological father of Bobby Fischer. He met Bobby Fischer’s mother, Regina, in 1942, at the Univesity of Colorado.

In 1939 Einstein met Dr. Edward Teller. Teller was an avid chess player, but there is no indication they played chess.

He became an American citizen in 1940 at the age of 61. He also maintained his Swiss citizenship.

He died on April 18, 1955 at the age of 76.

Einstein was a good friend of Dr. Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941). Lasker thought Einstein’s theory of relativity was wrong and that the speed of light was limited due to particles in space. Lasker did not think there was a perfect vacuum.

Einstein knew Edward Lasker (1885-1981). On one occasion, Edward Lasker visited Einstein at Princeton and gave him an autographed copy of his book Go and Gomoku, written in 1934. Einstein, in return, gave Edward Lasker an autographed copy of one of his papers on relativity. The book given to Einstein later showed up in a Baltimore used bookstore. When someone told Edward Lasker about this, Lasker replied, “That’s all right. I left his relativity paper on the subway.”

Einstein thanked Edward Lasker for his book, but then asked, “You are obviously an intelligent man; clearly a great deal of work went into this book. But why for such a trivial and unimportant topic?” Edward Lasker replied, “A friend of mine recently said the following, and I must say I agree with it: ‘We are born and we die, and in between these two events of a lifetime, there is a lot of time that must be wasted. Now, whether it is wasted by doing mathematics, practicing law, or playing games, it is really quite insignificant.'” Ed Lasker was quoting Clarence Darrow. In 1951 Einstein met a Go grandmaster from Japan and told the interpreter that he (Einstein) did not know much about Go.

Einstein is quoted as saying that “chess grips its exponent, shakling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom and independence of even the strongest character cannot remain unaffected.”

Einstein also said, “I always dislike the fierce competitive spirit embodied in [chess].”

Einstein wrote a preface to a posthumous biography of Emanuel Lasker, Emanuel Lasker, The Life of a Chess Master, published by Dr. Jacques Hannak in 1952 (written in German in 1942). Barnie Winkelman wrote to Einstein to see if he would write an introduction to Hannak’s book for an Engish edition. Einstein replied back with this foreward.

Emanuel Lasker was undoubtedly one of the most interesting people I came to know in my later years. We must be thankful to those who have penned the story of his life for this and succeeding generations. For there are few men who have had a warm interest in all the great human problems and at the same time kept their personality so uniquely independent.

I am not a chess expert and therefore not in a position to marvel at the force of mind revealed in his greatest intellectual achievement – in the field of chess. I must even confess that the struggle for power and the competitive spirit expressed in the form of an ingenious game have always been repugant to me.

I met Emanuel Lasker at the house of my old friend, Alexander Moszkowski, and came to know him well in the course of many walks in which we exchanged opinions about the most varied questions. It was a somewhat one-sided exchange, in which I received more that I gave. For it was usually more natural for this eminently productive man to shape his own thoughts than to busy himself with those of another.

To my mind, there was a tragic note in his personality, despite his fundamentally affirmative attitude towards life. The enormous psychological tension, without which nobody can be a chess master, was so deeply interwoven with chess that he could never entirely rid himself of the spirit of the game, even when he was occupied with philosophic and human problems. At the same time, it seemed to me that chess was more a profession for him than the real goal of his life. His real yearning seems to be directed towards scientific understanding and the beauty inherent only in logical creation, a beauty so enchanting that nobody who has once caught a glimpse of it can ever escape it.

Spinoza’s material existence and independence were base on the grinding of lenses; chess had an analogous role in Lasker’s life. But Spinoza was granted a better fate, because his occupation left his mind free and untroubled, while, on the other hand, the chess playing of a master ties him to the game, fetters his mind and shapes it to a certain extent so that his internal freedom and ease, no matter how strong he is, must inevitably be affected. In our conversations and in the reading of his philosophical books, I always had that feeling. Of these books, “The Philosophy of the Unattainable” interested me the most; the book is not only very original, but it also affords a deep insight into Lasker’s entire personality.

Now I must justify myself because I never considered in detail, either in writing or in our conversations, Emanuel Lasker’s critical essay on the theory of relativity. It is indeed necessary for me to say something about it here because even in his biography, which is focused on the purely human aspects, the passage which discusses the essay contains something resembling a slight reproach. Lasker’s keen analytical mind had immediately clearly recognized that the central point of the whole question is that the velocity of light (in a vacuum) is a constant. It was evident to him that, if this constancy were admitted, the relative of time could not be avoided. So what was there to do? He tried to do what Alexnder, whom historians have dubbed “the Great,” did when he cut the Gordian knot. Lasker’s attempted solution was based on the following idea: “Nobody has any immediate knowledge of how quickly light is transmitted in a complete vacuum, for even in interstellar space there is always a minimal quantity of matter present under all circimstances and what holds there is even more applicable to the most complete vacuum created by man to the best of his ability. Therefore, who has the right to deny that its velocity in a really complete vacuum is infinite?”

To answer this argument can be expressed as follows: “It is, to be sure, true that nobody has experimental knowledge of how light is transmitted in a complete vacuum. But it is as good as impossible to formulate a reasonable theory of light according to which the velocity of light is affected by minimal traces of matter which is very significant but at the same time virtuallt independent of ther density.” Before such a theory, which moreover, must harmonize with the known phenomena of optics in an almost complete vacuum, can be set up, it seems that evey physicist must wait for the solution of the above-mentioned Gordian knot – if he is not satisified with the present solution. Moral: a strong mind cannot take place of delicate fingers.

But I liked Lasker’s immovable independence, a rare human attribute, in which respect almost all, including intelligent people, are mediocrities. And so I let matteers stand that way.

I am glad that the reader will be able to get to know this strong and, at the same time, find and lovable personality from his sympathetic biography, but I am thankful for the hours of conversation which this ever striving, independent, simple man granted me.

Here is a game attributed to Albert Einstein. The game was first published in Freude am Schach (The Pleasure of Chess) by Gerhard Henschel in 1959.

Albert Einstein – J. Robert Oppenheimer, Princeton 1933
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Nf6 6.O-O Nxe4 7.Re1 d5 8.a4?! [8.d3] b4?! [8…Bc5] 9.d3 Nc5?! [9…Nf6] 10.Nxe5 Ne7 11.Qf3 [threatening 12.Qxf7 mate] f6? [11…Be6] 12.Qh5+! g6 13.Nxg6! hxg6 [13…Rg8 14.Nxe7+ Kd7 15.Qxd5+ Ke8 16.Qxg8] 14.Qxh8 Nxb3 15.cxb3 Qd6? [15…Kf7] 16.Bh6 Kd7 17.Bxf8 Bb7 18.Qg7 Re8 19.Nd2 c5 20.Rad1 [or 20.Re2] a5 21.Nc4! dxc4 [21…Qc7 22.Bxe7] 22.dxc4 Qxd1 23.Rxd1+ Kc8 24.Bxe7 1-0

Some (Dennis Holding) have attributed the above game to Albert Einstein’s son, Hans Albert (1904-1969), and played at Berkeley in 1945 where Hans taught. But Hans Albert did not play chess. There is no indication that Oppenheimer was in Berkeley in 1945. He was either at Los Alamos, New Mexico or Princeton, New Jersey in 1945. He was at Berkeley from 1929 to 1933.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/siliconvalley/lab/7378/einstein.htm

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