I was at a birthday party and slipped into conversation about cooking with one of the guests. She is quite elderly and her 90-year-old husband passed away this year, but she still enjoys the physical contact of chopping onions and such, though she only cooks for herself now. She was delighted when an old friend recently phoned her as she had just prepared a solitary dinner and was able to join her to talk about old times. They had both worked all their lives in the science field.
My fellow interlocutor told me that her impromptu dinner guest had earned a Ph.D. at age 21 and had worked under Rosie Franklin. "Do you know who Rosie Franklin is?" Mrs. Peck asked me. "No, I'm sorry," I said. "Of course you don't," she said. "Rosie Franklin discovered the double-helix shape of the DNA molecule, but her research was stolen off her desk by Watson and Crick."
I nodded at the familiarity of those two names, a pairing every schoolchild knows. Perhaps if history had gone differently, the name Rosiland Franklin would have been the household name, rather than James Watson and Francis Crick.
Ever heard of Joseph Swan? Probably not, but you have heard of Thomas Edison. Yet it seems that the British Mr. Swan came up with the carbon filament light bulb across the great pond at least a year before our Mr. Edison.
In heaven all the records will be set straight (if anyone still cares who discovered the spiral staircase structure of the DNA, or the little glass wonder that illuminates our houses). Some names that are famous now will be nobodies in the new world that is coming. (Already my son's middle school Sunday school kids have never heard of Liz Taylor, though her stardom spanned decades.)
The Apostle Paul describes some of the sufferings of those who "count their lives worth nothing to themselves" (Acts 20:24) in order to spend it serving God:
"… through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise … as imposters, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known …" (2 Corinthians 6:8-9).
Someday we will all know what really happened down here. And a time is coming when "many who are first will be last, and the last first" (Matthew 19:30).