History’s Dinner Party

I wrote this post in 2016, but it got buried in my folder of planned posts. I honestly don’t even remember where I got the idea. I think it was a writing prompt in a group I attended at the time. Anyway, I’ve cleaned it up and updated it to put it up now.

Prompt: If you could invite any four people, living or dead, to dinner, who would you invite?

To start off, there are two people I think I would definitely invite to my dinner party.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/M_Faraday_Th_Phillips_oil_1842.jpg

Number 1: Michael Faraday. Possibly the greatest experimental scientist of all time, Faraday discovered the principles underlying most of our modern electrified society, including advancing the electric motor, inventing the electric generator, a bunch of discoveries in chemistry and optics, and helping to discover the laws of electromagnetism, all without the benefit of a math degree. He’s my favorite scientist because of all these achievements and because of his devout faith.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Elon_Musk_Royal_Society.jpg

Number 2: Elon Musk. Musk was more on top of his game in 2016 than he is now, but I still think he’d be worth talking to. After all, even with his current troubles, he’s basically the real-life Tony Stark. He has rockets, electric cars, solar panels, batteries, and the Hyperloop (as skeptical as I am about that). That’s just plain cool.

After those first two, it gets a bit harder. I could pick more scientists. Nikola Tesla would be just plain cool. Richard Feynman or Neil deGrasse Tyson (the latter of whom I’ve had the privilege to meet in person) would both be the life of the party, I’m sure, but I’ve already got Faraday for a famous scientist, and I feel like I should consider other options before committing to more.

Jesus or any number of other Biblical or religious figures in history would certainly be good choices, but they’re not exactly my go-to dinner guests. I’d be much more interested in having a long conversation with one of them one on one.

I should probably address the fact that most of my possible picks are likely to be white men, and I might want to branch out from that, but for a party this small (and with what will ultimately become a definite theme), it’s hard to make that the primary factor. It’s an unfortunate fact of history that the large majority of (for example) major scientific discoveries were made by white men. If I were inviting ten people, I would absolutely write a more diverse guest list, but with only four, I’m focusing mainly on putting together an interesting cast of personalities who would work well together, and I have a different direction in mind for that.

Another category I haven’t mentioned is important political or historical figures. Ordinarily, I might pick James Madison or Abraham Lincoln from that group, but since I’ve already got two scientists/inventors, I think there’s a better option who would be a good fit with them—would mesh with the interesting personalities.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Duplessis_1778.jpg

Number 3: Benjamin Franklin. Founding father, inventor, early abolitionist, newsman, and more. And if his reputation is anything to go by, he would probably be the life of the party, too.

For the last one, I have all the same considerations as before, and the choice isn’t any easier, but this time, I want to go in a different direction. One thing I’ve imagined along these lines is bringing someone from the ancient world to the present. I think that would work with the people I’ve already picked, but I need to choose the right one. They would need to be someone we could dazzle with our modern science and technology, but I also want them to be someone who would have a chance at actually understanding it. And I think there’s only one choice for that.

https://www.thoughtco.com/thmb/WPajLW1cvUPAl4FhqQB07ZrfsgQ=/768x0/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/archimides-57ee40053df78c690f9b47a4.jpg

Number 4: Archimedes of Syracuse. Greek mathematician, inventor, and designer of advanced weaponry. (Plus we could settle once and for all whether or not his Death Ray really worked.)

So, that’s my historical dinner party. It did wind up being four famous scientists and inventors, but I think it would be a very interesting combination. What are your choices? Leave a comment if you have your own opinions.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
This entry was posted in History, Writing Prompts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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