How does one become a famous scientist?

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

companion_cube
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby companion_cube » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:31 am UTC

I've already decided to dedicate most of my life to scientific pursuit (namely physics). While I'm doing this for the intellectual satisfaction and to quench my curiosity about the universe, I would like to get famous as well!
And by "famous" I mean being voted the Time Person of The Year, get offered a job as the science adviser to the president, be called the "next Einstein", and make women swoon everywhere I go.
I know that the bulk of accomplishing this will be to produce profound breakthroughs in research. Besides, and maybe even instead of this, what other things should I make sure to do?
Obviously I should become a science popularizer by writing books about general science and perhaps doing a TV show on the Discovery channel. This would require me to have already established my reputation somewhat, however, by doing important research.
I'd like to become famous while still in my 20's or early 30's, so I still look rather young.
Last edited by companion_cube on Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:37 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:37 am UTC

Are you.... uh... is this a serious question or a parody thread, because I really can't tell.
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

SU3SU2U1
Posts: 396
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:15 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby SU3SU2U1 » Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:35 am UTC

Too make any kind of reasonable career in physics, you have to be good at what you do, and you have to get fairly lucky- in my field, the overwhelming majority of phds will be forced out of the field by lack of jobs/opportunities. Tenured professors are to physicists what famous rock stars are to musicians.

To get "famous" as a physicist is practically impossible- the average person on the street probably cannot name more than four or five from all of history.

User avatar
MiB24601
Posts: 714
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:13 pm UTC
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby MiB24601 » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:06 am UTC

companion_cube wrote:And by "famous" I mean being voted the Time Person of The Year, get offered a job as the science adviser to the president, be called the "next Einstein", and make women swoon everywhere I go.


I don't think the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (AKA the Science Advisor) has ever been "famous." While they have all had top-notch credentials, they're never really the household name scientists.

A famous scientist would be someone like Brian Green, Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you want to follow their examples, you need to be extremely well-published, both in scientific journals and the general media and you need to be working on something that is revolutionary. It also seems to help to be so brilliant and talented that you are already being pushed into top programs years ahead of your peers, as was the case with those three.

So, good luck. If you're able to pull it off, be sure to give a shout out to the XKCD forum in your first general audience publication.
"There's no point being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes." - The Fourth Doctor, Doctor Who

Waylah
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 1:01 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Waylah » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:12 am UTC

Hahahha! :D Naw, you trolls. So cute. :wink:

User avatar
mercuryseven
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mercuryseven » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:42 am UTC

companion_cube wrote:And by "famous" I mean being voted the Time Person of The Year, get offered a job as the science adviser to the president, be called the "next Einstein", and make women swoon everywhere I go.


I have some good news (kind of).... In 2006, you have already been voted Time's Person of the Year

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Charlie! » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:11 am UTC

And, of course, if you want to make people swoon at your approach, I suggest you do some famous research on chloroform.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
Dhes
Posts: 125
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:27 am UTC
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Dhes » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:38 am UTC

How many woman “swoon” for scientists?
“Hey baby wane go to my place and play with my Large hadron collider”

Anyway, what you could do is pick something, i.e. sustainable (cold) fusion or an anti-gravitational field that works on 2 AA batteries.

Inventing a Mr. Fusion or a hover boards will give you instant fame, you have 5 years left they need to be done by the end of 2015.
I’m dyslexic, so I tent tot pull things way out of contacts.
Image

SpaceShipRat
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby SpaceShipRat » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:44 pm UTC

Easy: write. Most of the "popular" scientists are those who have written great books that are scientifically relevant yet accessible.

fooliam
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby fooliam » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

Well...Make a bunch of TV shows that explain science in lay terms. Like Michio Kakau (Old gray haired asian guy...you know who i'm talkin about, but I don't know how to spell his name) or that Neil guy that decided Pluto wasn't a planet. Or pull a Carl Sagan and make an awesome television series about something neat. Really, the trick is to be able to explain VERY complex ideas in very simple terms. Practice by being a university professor and teach a lot of undergrad classes.
Image

Bought ME2 based on my totally useful poll :-)

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby idobox » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:12 am UTC

How many evolution specialists can you name?
I can name only one, Dawkins, because he's always arguing with creationists, young earth theorists, and religious people in general.
If you want to get famous, just keep disagreeing with what most people think. It's going to be a bit difficult with physics, since most people don't think about physics, but you can try.
It's much easier with biology. For example:
-cell phones are actually good for your health
-organic food is dangerous for your health and for society in general
-cancerous cells are genetically different, but still human, so they should be given the same rights as embryos.
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

User avatar
Solt
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:08 am UTC
Location: California

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Solt » Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:02 am UTC

Two words my friend: Nobel Prize.

Einstein and Feynman both got it, and they are 2/3 of the famous physicists of the 20th century.

Once you get the prize you have a single moment where everyone cares what you say. If you say something interesting, you become famous!
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,
produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a
most annoying habit of splitting in two."
-J.W. Morris

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:39 am UTC

Fame within your academic circle simply hinges upon your ability to do good research and play the politics well. Ideally, it also involves inciting the jealousy of your peers. If you've ever attended a symposium or conference, you see fame playing itself out all the time as heavy hitters in various fields enjoy their one week a year of imminent respect and admiration.
Fame in real life as a scientist? Be an icon. Stephen Hawking and Einstein are probably the two most prominent pop culture physicists, and both are extremely identifiable not for their research. I doubt any layman would be unable to identify either Hawking of Einstein, but I doubt any layman would actually know what they did.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Velifer
Posts: 1132
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 4:05 pm UTC
Location: 40ºN, 83ºW

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Velifer » Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:55 pm UTC

Come up with some crackpot theory about how something good but somewhat mysterious is linked to something very bad and mysterious that happens to babies. Find parents of these babies who have expensive lawyers and be a professional witness. Work with non-profits full of angry, grief-stricken, and misinformed people to whip up a near-religious furor. Score some celebrities to write books about how correct you are.

Fame and fortune will be yours (dickhead).
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx

RabbitWho
Posts: 284
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 10:16 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby RabbitWho » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:48 pm UTC

I don't think women swoon for famous scientists. Women swoon for web comic creators.

You could write books about how everyone who doesn't agree with you is ignorant and foolish and mislead and stupid like Richard Dawkins does.

User avatar
mercuryseven
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mercuryseven » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:17 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Two words my friend: Nobel Prize.

Einstein and Feynman both got it, and they are 2/3 of the famous physicists of the 20th century.

Once you get the prize you have a single moment where everyone cares what you say. If you say something interesting, you become famous!


Not every moment. There's a physics Nobel Laureate on temporary posting at my university, and that poor fella was eating alone at the canteen, completely ignored by a group of physics students who happened to be seated at the next table.

fooliam
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby fooliam » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:48 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Two words my friend: Nobel Prize.

Einstein and Feynman both got it, and they are 2/3 of the famous physicists of the 20th century.

Once you get the prize you have a single moment where everyone cares what you say. If you say something interesting, you become famous!



Not to mention most people can't name the winner of more than 2 nobel prize winners.
Image

Bought ME2 based on my totally useful poll :-)

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby meatyochre » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:03 pm UTC

fooliam wrote:
Solt wrote:Two words my friend: Nobel Prize.

Einstein and Feynman both got it, and they are 2/3 of the famous physicists of the 20th century.

Once you get the prize you have a single moment where everyone cares what you say. If you say something interesting, you become famous!



Not to mention most people can't name the winner of more than 2 nobel prize winners.

Well Obama is one... shouldn't be TOO hard to get three :P
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

fooliam
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby fooliam » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:
fooliam wrote:
Solt wrote:Two words my friend: Nobel Prize.

Einstein and Feynman both got it, and they are 2/3 of the famous physicists of the 20th century.

Once you get the prize you have a single moment where everyone cares what you say. If you say something interesting, you become famous!



Not to mention most people can't name the winner of more than 2 nobel prize winners.

Well Obama is one... shouldn't be TOO hard to get three :P


I didn't know Feynman was a Nobel Prize winner. I don't even know who Feynman is, and compared to the vast majority of people, I'm pretty up on my historically significant science figures. I can promise you that WAYYY more people are familiar with Carl Segan than Feynman.
Image

Bought ME2 based on my totally useful poll :-)

User avatar
You, sir, name?
Posts: 6983
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:07 am UTC
Location: Chako Paul City
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:43 am UTC

fooliam wrote:I didn't know Feynman was a Nobel Prize winner. I don't even know who Feynman is, and compared to the vast majority of people, I'm pretty up on my historically significant science figures. I can promise you that WAYYY more people are familiar with Carl Segan than Feynman.


If you do not know who Richard Feynman is, you are not as "up on my historically significant science figures" as you think you are. Out of all the famous scientists, Feyman's fame is probably the one most appropriately leveled. Einstein's fame is much bigger than his actual achievements (which were big, but not so big as to merit putting an equal sign between Einstein and genius in public perception), and Schrödinger's fame is disproportionately small (everyone knows about his friend Catherine, but have no idea who he is, what he did, or what the deal about his friend Catherine is).

And wait... Sagan was a scientist? I thought he was a TV presenter or something.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

User avatar
mercuryseven
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mercuryseven » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:04 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
fooliam wrote:I didn't know Feynman was a Nobel Prize winner. I don't even know who Feynman is, and compared to the vast majority of people, I'm pretty up on my historically significant science figures. I can promise you that WAYYY more people are familiar with Carl Segan than Feynman.


If you do not know who Richard Feynman is, you are not as "up on my historically significant science figures" as you think you are. Out of all the famous scientists, Feyman's fame is probably the one most appropriately leveled. Einstein's fame is much bigger than his actual achievements (which were big, but not so big as to merit putting an equal sign between Einstein and genius in public perception), and Schrödinger's fame is disproportionately small (everyone knows about his friend Catherine, but have no idea who he is, what he did, or what the deal about his friend Catherine is).

And wait... Sagan was a scientist? I thought he was a TV presenter or something.


Sagan was a planetary astronomer. If I remember correctly he was among the scientists who discovered the greenhouse effect on Venus, which in those early days, gave the first lessons to humans about the dangers of global warming. He was also involved of the Apollo program.

I guess there's a difference between fame in public and fame in the academic world. Although Einstein was much more publicly known, Feynman is more famous among actual physicists. Probably every (theoretical) physicist secretly wants to be the "next Feynman", rather than the "next Einstein"...

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5384
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Somerville, MA
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby doogly » Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:16 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:If you do not know who Richard Feynman is, you are not as "up on my historically significant science figures" as you think you are.

Seriously. You should also be aware of Tomonaga and Schwinger, and it's worth noting that if the committee weren't limited to picking 3 people Dyson probably would have been on there.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
nash1429
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:06 am UTC
Location: Flatland
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby nash1429 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:52 am UTC

mercuryseven wrote:Probably every (theoretical) physicist secretly wants to be the "next Feynman", rather than the "next Einstein"...


More accurately: every hardcore nerd EVER. If you have never heard of Feynman you are posting on the wrong fora.

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3632
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Mid north coast, NSW, Australia

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:24 am UTC

nash1429 wrote:If you have never heard of Feynman you are posting on the wrong fora.
And clearly, you don't read the comic. But don't worry; all is not lost. Go to your local public library, they are bound to have at least one of his autobiographical books there. Read it, and you, too, can become a Feynman fan. :)

Here's a little snippet to get you started.
Michael Scott wrote:There were 183 of us freshmen, and a bowling ball hanging from the three-story ceiling to just above the floor. Feynman walked in and, without a word, grabbed the ball and backed against the wall with the ball touching his nose. He let go, and the ball swung slowly 60 feet across the room and back — stopping naturally just short of crushing his face. Then he took the ball again, stepped forward, and said: "I wanted to show you that I believe in what I'm going to teach you over the next two years."

User avatar
Solt
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:08 am UTC
Location: California

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Solt » Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:47 pm UTC

fooliam wrote:
I didn't know Feynman was a Nobel Prize winner. I don't even know who Feynman is, and compared to the vast majority of people, I'm pretty up on my historically significant science figures. I can promise you that WAYYY more people are familiar with Carl Segan than Feynman.


Seriously dude, you don't even read the comic of the forum that you are posting on?

http://xkcd.com/397/
http://xkcd.com/182/

If OP can achieve the fame of Feynman, I think he will have achieved his goal.

A Feynman is one in a billion though.
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,

produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

-J.W. Morris

mouseposture
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:42 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mouseposture » Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:41 pm UTC

If you want to become a first-tier famous scientist, then 1) cultivate endearingly humanizing features, such as frizzy hair, playing the bongos, or near-total paralysis. 2) learn to popularize really well, and 3) do better science than most of your colleagues who aren't distracted by #1 & #2.

#3 is a killer, and explains why there aren't many at that level. If you want to be a famous scientist, but not first-tier, consider a career in TV weather forcasting.

User avatar
mercuryseven
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mercuryseven » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:36 am UTC

Check out this Hertzsprung-Russel diagram for media stars. Someone on that blog plotted no. of publications against fame (no. of Google hits)

Spoiler:
20100719_astronomer_HR_diagram.png

User avatar
Steax
SecondTalon's Goon Squad
Posts: 3038
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:18 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Steax » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:11 am UTC

Wear an over-sized lab coat and bow tie, teach science to kids in a lab-like studio and end your shows with pseudo-music videos which are parodies of other songs with science-y lyrics. Don't forget the self-harm jokes and randomness. Cynical deep-voiced narrator recommended.

Key phrases: "Please, consider the following" and "SCIENCE!"
Last edited by Steax on Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:12 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
In Minecraft, I use the username Rirez.

tuseroni
Posts: 124
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:41 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby tuseroni » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:11 am UTC

one does not become a famous scientist...one becomes a scientist and fame either comes or it doesnt.

to be honest i would not aim to be a famous scientist, science isnt about fame and fortune (no...its definitely not about fortune...) its about doing something you love, its about making a difference. the purpose of science is SCIENCE (not to sound too orwellian there) fame and fortune, they are fickle creatures, uncaring of the endeavors of science, they move of their own whims and to try and coheres them simple insures they forever elude you.

its like...you ever try and lead a goat? you pull and pull and pull at its leash but it just digs in deeper and pulls in the other way (even if you are leading it away from a FLOOD) but you let go of the leash and walk away and the goat follows you.

also women dont swoon at scientists, none of them...and if you are looking for a career to get women...you are DEFINITELY looking in the WRONG place.
Image

User avatar
Solt
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:08 am UTC
Location: California

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Solt » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:48 am UTC

tuseroni wrote:to be honest i would not aim to be a famous scientist, science isnt about fame and fortune (no...its definitely not about fortune...) its about doing something you love, its about making a difference.


True that. If you want fame go be a politician or actor or writer.
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,

produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

-J.W. Morris

User avatar
Velifer
Posts: 1132
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 4:05 pm UTC
Location: 40ºN, 83ºW

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Velifer » Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:59 am UTC

Solt wrote:
tuseroni wrote:If you want fame go be a politician or actor or writer.

Even these take hard work, time, and skill. Do something reprehensible. Much easier, and if it's big enough you'll make it onto the national news that very night. Wear a lab coat. The media will turn you into a "famous" "scientist."

Listen to Scott Adams. If you want to be a success, be one of the best at one thing (this is hard), or be pretty good at two or more things. If you want to be famous, one of those things should be marketing yourself.
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx

User avatar
Sockmonkey
Posts: 1214
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:30 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Sockmonkey » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:54 pm UTC

Find a really interesting problem to solve.

Moose Hole
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:34 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby Moose Hole » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:31 pm UTC

Sex scandal.

SpaceShipRat
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby SpaceShipRat » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:51 pm UTC

mercuryseven wrote:Check out this Hertzsprung-Russel diagram for media stars. Someone on that blog plotted no. of publications against fame (no. of Google hits)

Spoiler:
20100719_astronomer_HR_diagram.png

Fantastic!

User avatar
evilbeanfiend
Posts: 2650
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:05 am UTC
Location: the old world

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

SpaceShipRat wrote:
mercuryseven wrote:Check out this Hertzsprung-Russel diagram for media stars. Someone on that blog plotted no. of publications against fame (no. of Google hits)

Spoiler:
20100719_astronomer_HR_diagram.png

Fantastic!


but at the same time depressing! myleene klass is probably going to be a more famous physicist then anyone here :twisted:
in ur beanz makin u eveel

User avatar
You, sir, name?
Posts: 6983
Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:07 am UTC
Location: Chako Paul City
Contact:

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby You, sir, name? » Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:14 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:Sex scandal.


Well, there was that guy who had two wives or something. He was either involved in relativity or early quantum theory. Can't for the life of me remember who it was, though. Which hardly validates your notion.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:Sex scandal.


Well, there was that guy who had two wives or something. He was either involved in relativity or early quantum theory. Can't for the life of me remember who it was, though. Which hardly validates your notion.

He mistakenly applied Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to his relationship, thinking that knowing the position of one wife made determining the velocity of the other impossible, therefore it couldn't be bigamy.

giggity goo!
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

User avatar
PM 2Ring
Posts: 3632
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:19 pm UTC
Location: Mid north coast, NSW, Australia

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby PM 2Ring » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:22 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:Sex scandal.


Well, there was that guy who had two wives or something. He was either involved in relativity or early quantum theory. Can't for the life of me remember who it was, though. Which hardly validates your notion.

Abdus Salam, the first Muslim Nobel laureate, who was involved in electroweak unification, had two wives. But although that caused a bit of a stir in Stockholm, it was hardly a scandal.
A Tribute to Abdus Salam wrote:For example, he exercised his right under traditional Islamic law to take more than one wife. This caused something of a diplomatic crisis at the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm when he arrived with both his wives. That evening was also memorable in that Salam arrived attired in traditional dress: bejewelled turban, baggy pants, scimitar and those wonderful curly shoes that made him appear as though he had just stepped out of the pages of the Arabian Nights. The net result, of course, was that he completely upstaged Glashow and Weinberg (which I suspect may have been the main motive for the get-up)!


But earlier, there was the colourful mathematician, Charles Howard Hinton, who popularized the fourth dimension through his books & popular lectures on. He was a gracious and friendly character, and his talks were very popular with the ladies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Howard_Hinton wrote:Charles Howard Hinton (1853 – 1907) was a British mathematician and writer of science fiction works titled Scientific Romances. He was interested in higher dimensions, particularly the fourth dimension, and is known for coining the word tesseract and for his work on methods of visualising the geometry of higher dimensions. He also had a strong interest in theosophy.

Life

Hinton taught at Cheltenham Ladies College while he studied at Oxford, where he obtained his B.A. in 1877. From 1880 to 1886, he taught at Uppingham School in Rutland, where Howard Candler, a friend of Edwin Abbott Abbott's, also taught.[1] Hinton also received his M.A. from Oxford in 1886.

In an 1880 article entitled "What is the Fourth Dimension?", Hinton suggested that points moving around in three dimensions might be imagined as successive cross-sections of a static four-dimensional arrangement of lines passing through a three-dimensional plane, an idea that anticipated the notion of world lines, and of time as a fourth dimension (although Hinton did not propose this explicitly, and the article was mainly concerned with the possibility of a fourth spatial dimension), in Einstein's theory of relativity. Hinton later introduced a system of coloured cubes by the study of which, he claimed, it was possible to learn to visualise four-dimensional space (Casting out the Self, 1904). Rumours subsequently arose that these cubes had driven more than one hopeful person insane.

[...]

Hinton was convicted of bigamy for marrying both Mary Ellen (daughter of Mary Everest Boole and George Boole, the founder of mathematical logic) and Maud Wheldon. He served a single day in prison sentence, then moved with Mary Ellen first to Japan (1886) and later to Princeton University in 1893 as an instructor in mathematics.

Hinton had been happily living with these two women for about a decade before his arrest; his neighbours had assumed that Maud was Mary's sister, and didn't think anything unusual was going on.

Hinton's works are fun to read (apart from the material describing the Hinton Cubes, which gets a bit tedious). I love his somewhat flowery writing style, and unlike Abbott's Flatland, he has no political axe to grind. Hinton had a more positive outlook for a future where people are more educated in the sciences & have their minds expanded by contemplating higher dimensions, etc, rather than focusing on petty squabbles.

I guess there is a mystical component to some of his work, but hey, that was part of the zeitgeist, and Hinton's attitude seems to me to be more pragmatic & scientific than many writers of the period who were interested in such topics. Explaining "spiritual" phenomena via the 4th dimension was quite popular at that time, and quite a few respectable scientists got caught up in that craze.

User avatar
mercuryseven
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby mercuryseven » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:10 pm UTC

Speaking of scientists and their sex scandals, here's 6 Famous Geniuses You didn't Know are Perverts.

fooliam
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Re: How does one become a famous scientist?

Postby fooliam » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
fooliam wrote:I didn't know Feynman was a Nobel Prize winner. I don't even know who Feynman is, and compared to the vast majority of people, I'm pretty up on my historically significant science figures. I can promise you that WAYYY more people are familiar with Carl Segan than Feynman.


If you do not know who Richard Feynman is, you are not as "up on my historically significant science figures" as you think you are. Out of all the famous scientists, Feyman's fame is probably the one most appropriately leveled. Einstein's fame is much bigger than his actual achievements (which were big, but not so big as to merit putting an equal sign between Einstein and genius in public perception), and Schrödinger's fame is disproportionately small (everyone knows about his friend Catherine, but have no idea who he is, what he did, or what the deal about his friend Catherine is).


Compared to the true science nerds, I probably am not as up. Compared to society at large, then absolutely I am. You can't judge the general public by a select group. More people know Einstein than Feynman is. Just how it is...rarely is fame proportionate to merit.
Image

Bought ME2 based on my totally useful poll :-)


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests