Alfred Russel Wallace was this amature scientist from Wales of all places, who is probably one of the chillest people is science history. Born in 1823 to some not so wealthy parents, he had very limited education. In fact he only went to school until the age of 14, before his father went broke and sent Alfred off to the countryside with his brother. Here is where he would become interested in science and meet his partner in crime, Henry Walter Bates, another naturalist. Together they would end up heading over to Brazil to study plants and bugs.
While in Brazil Wallace and Bates ended up splitting up and Wallace got his first taste of what jungle life was like. Basically backpacking through the unexplored jungle, collecting more and more specimens to study back in the UK. He spent about six years doing this before he decided to call it a day and return to England. Unfortunately on the way back Wallace’s ship caught on fire, sending all of Wallace’s specimens and notes up in flames.
If all of my six straight years of work just went up in smoke like his did I probably would’ve called it a day and found a new career. Wallace did not do that, instead he decided he was going to travel over to the East Indies. Now, when Wallace first thought of the Theory of Evolution, he was not in the best state of mind. While there he had contracted multiple cases of Malaria. It was in the middle of a hallucinogenic episode when Wallace figured out the Theory of Evolution.
RIght after he discovered it there wrote a letter to a much more critically acclaimed scientist who he had heard was interested in the same thing. Enter Charles Darwin, our more mainstream sophisticated scientist. While Alfred Russel Wallace was trekking through the jungle Darwin was sitting at home, not wanting to commit social suicide over his controversial ideas. It was not until Wallace sent him the letter in which Darwin was brave enough to start to put these ideas of evolution out there.
In the paper that Darwin wrote to these high power scientists, Wallace is actually mentioned, given it’s not a lot but it is still there. But now, when asked who discovered the Theory of Evolution everyone’s mind (even mine) goes straight to Charles Darwin. This is because Wallace was so chill that he let Darwin do that. The two scientist actually ended up working together, bouncing ideas off each other and so on. Given that Darwin was more educated and more of a socialite than Wallace, Wallace gave Darwin permission to write The Origin of Species using his work that he had gathered.
Wallace, in my opinion, is one of the coolest scientist there is. He did not have the best education.He spend so much time out in the jungle, just doing his own thing. Even when everything went up in flames, literally, he still continued to search for the truth on evolution. He fought multiple cases of Malaria, and came up with the basis for the Theory of Evolution while hallucinating. Then he let a more experienced scientist write his ideas in a paper to get it out to the world, and he was like totally cool about it and didn’t make a big deal when he was only mentioned a few times in Darwin’s book.