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“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” - Ellen DeGeneres
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Failure possesses definitive value. Unfortunately, our culture regularly denigrates the mistake, the blemish, and the imperfect. But failure often accompanies our most major breakthroughs, discoveries, and innovations. Just ask Thomas, Albert, or Ellen. J.K. Rowling writes, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time, but it is our ability to use failure that leads to greater success.” This session will explore the utility of failure with science writer and polymath Margaret Wertheim, focusing on her areas of expertise. We will consider how we all might utilize, embrace, and even celebrate those moments when we don’t quite hit the mark. So for this session, let’s start out on the wrong foot and see where it takes us!
Margaret Wertheim, science writer and Director of the Institute for Figuring
Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted science writer and curator whose work focuses on the relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. She is the author of Pythagoras’ Trousers (1997), a history of the relationship between physics and religion; The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet (2000); and Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons and Alternative Theories of Everything (2011). She has written extensively for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian.
A native Australian and true polymath, Wertheim has degrees in physics and mathematics. She has lectured widely at universities and colleges around the world, including Oxford University, Sydney University, University of Cape Town, and Princeton Theological Seminary. She has created a dozen television science programs, including the six-part ABC-Australia series Catalyst, which was aimed at teenage girls.
In her pioneering work in new methods of science communication, she founded the nonprofit Institute For Figuring, through which she organized the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, a touring exhibition at the intersection of science and art. In the 2011-2012 academic year she served as the inaugural Discovery Fellow at U.S.C. Libraries.