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(Popular Science)   Five beloved scientists who were really dicks   (popsci.com) divider line 37
    More: Amusing, Mr. Thomas Alva Edison, Alternating Current, direct currents, scientists, Nobel Prize in Physics, Origin of Species, Army Air Corps, Isaac Newton  
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6517 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 Aug 2013 at 9:00 AM (47 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



37 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-08-23 08:37:16 AM
Anyone who is remotely familiar with Edison's legacy realizes he was a dick.  That was a major part of his character.
 
2013-08-23 08:41:52 AM
he and his cohorts began publicly electrocuting animals- and cats,, and even, notoriously, "Topsy" the elephant.

Poor Topsy...

1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-08-23 09:07:20 AM
Wow - the article links to a TIME magazine video that includes footage of an elephant being electrocuted.
 
2013-08-23 09:09:06 AM

I_Am_Weasel: he and his cohorts began publicly electrocuting animals- and cats,, and even, notoriously, "Topsy" the elephant.

Poor Topsy...

[1.bp.blogspot.com image 400x225]


Came for "Electric Love," leaving satisfied
 
2013-08-23 09:16:50 AM
Edison was a dick?   you don't say!
 
2013-08-23 09:22:31 AM
Edison, Newton, who else?

<off to RTFA>

Okay, should've remembered Shockley, but it feels kind of nice that I'd already forgotten him. The other two seem like they're lost in the noise -- once you're a Big Name, it can be pretty hard to control the ego.
 
2013-08-23 09:22:56 AM

I_Am_Weasel: he and his cohorts began publicly electrocuting animals- and cats,, and even, notoriously, "Topsy" the elephant.

Poor Topsy...

[1.bp.blogspot.com image 400x225]



Love that episode.
 
2013-08-23 09:24:13 AM
It's good to see Shockley getting a historic rep as an ass.

But remember the Feynman had the biggest penis in physics. He spent a year in a Brazilian hotel with stewardesses for farks sake.
 
2013-08-23 09:49:03 AM
I love a good story as much as the next guy... tell me about infidelity, about how Einstein married is cousin and cheated on her.  Good stuff... allows people to be people, without the deification that occurs.

The most interesting question is why do we idolize PEOPLE?   We know that they have faults, like us, or anyone else... yet we attempt to make them PERFECT.

This same thing happens with celebrities.  Michael Jackson or Woody Allen or Michael Jordan.  I say, LET PEOPLE BE PEOPLE!

They are GOOD at their JOB... being a scientist... or a basketball player... or a musician...  THEY ARE NOT FAULTLESS GODS!

Who are these weak minded people who need to idolize others, to such a Disney extent, that once they find out their faults, the whole image of the person is broken.
Why do we do this as a society?
Why can't we accept that smart / talented people are PEOPLE with FAULTS... they are NOT heroes, idols, or role-models of perfection.
 
2013-08-23 10:07:31 AM
No mention of BHA?
 
2013-08-23 10:13:15 AM
List fails without Tycho Brahe. When you go through life with a metal nose because your natural one was cut off in duel with your third cousin over an academic disagreement, you might have an attitude problem.
 
2013-08-23 10:17:55 AM
Othniel Charles Marsh was an even bigger dickhead than Richard Owen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_Wars
 
2013-08-23 10:19:40 AM
Edison?

(click)

Yep...
 
2013-08-23 10:24:38 AM
And yet I'd be trapped in a lifeboat with anyone if the alternative was Simon Cowell or any of the Kardashians.
 
2013-08-23 10:24:53 AM
Wasn't Edison more of a businessman than a scientist?
 
2013-08-23 10:25:25 AM
Oops..."any one of them"...
 
2013-08-23 10:28:56 AM
I'm surprised they left off Watson and Crick for failing to recognize the woman who did a lot of the ground work on the discovery of DNA.
 
2013-08-23 10:51:05 AM
Huh, no Edward Teller for his backstabbing screwjob against Oppenheimer?
 
2013-08-23 11:00:59 AM

EngineerAU: List fails without Tycho Brahe. When you go through life with a metal nose because your natural one was cut off in duel with your third cousin over an academic disagreement, you might have an attitude problem.


Tycho Brahe also died of a burst bladder.  Because he didn't want to be seen having bad manners.  And that definitely isn't a nice way of dying.
 
2013-08-23 11:10:59 AM

Copperbelly watersnake: I'm surprised they left off Watson and Crick for failing to recognize the woman who did a lot of the ground work on the discovery of DNA.


This.
 
2013-08-23 11:19:26 AM
An Israeli scientist who suffered years of ridicule and even lost a research post for claiming to have found an entirely new class of solid material was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals.

Three decades after Daniel Shechtman looked with an electron microscope at a metal alloy and saw a pattern familiar in Islamic art but then unknown at a molecular level, those non-stick, rust-free, heat-resistant quasicrystals are finding their way into tools from LEDs to engines and frying pans.

Shechtman, 70, from Israel's Technion institute in Haifa, was working in the United States in 1982 when he observed atoms in a crystal he had made form a five-sided pattern that did not repeat itself, defying received wisdom that they must create repetitious patterns, like triangles, squares or hexagons.

"People just laughed at me," Shechtman recalled in an interview this year with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noting how Linus Pauling, a colossus of science and double Nobel laureate, mounted a frightening "crusade" against him, saying: "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."

"His discovery was extremely controversial," said the Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which granted him the 10-million crown ($1.5-million) award.

"Daniel Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science ... His battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.

"In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves."

"He dealt with the skepticism in a very scientific and gentlemanly manner and answered his critics as every scientist should -- through science," Ron Lifshiatz, a physics professor at Tel Aviv University, told Reuters. "There were also personal slurs but those did not warrant a response ... He believed in his own work and carried on with determination."

He "trusted in his science," however, and came to see the criticism by the late Pauling, which Shechtman has described as "almost theological," as a positive source of strength:

"When you're a young scientist, and you're faced with perhaps the top international scientist, Professor Linus Pauling ... and he argues with you as an equal, and you know that he is wrong - that's not really such a bad feeling."


Pauling was a dick.
 
2013-08-23 11:23:52 AM
Good no Carl Sagan. I would have to go all Jihad if they had Carl Sagan.

I miss you CS.
I hope you're doing advanced mathematics with Jesus.
 
2013-08-23 11:31:11 AM

idsfa: No mention of BHA?


Much like Edison, it will be decades until the scientific dicks of our time are unmasked and ridiculed.

/and aspartame is easily the most insidious scientific fraud of our time
 
2013-08-23 12:04:12 PM
A compelling case can be made that Newton's increasingly erratic and belligerent behavior later in life was attributable to an accumulated dosage of mercury, which he used in his alchemical work. After his exhumation, testing revealed massive amounts of mercury in his body.
 
2013-08-23 12:53:27 PM
Copperbelly watersnake:
I'm surprised they left off Watson and Crick for failing to recognize the woman who did a lot of the ground work on the discovery of DNA.

Watson is not exactly "beloved".  Apparently he's been the biggest farking pig in biology for decades, you can't invite the guy to speak at a conference without him showing up and saying something horribly sexist, racist or otherwise inappropriate.

(The same Wikipedia section suggests Franklin did not harbour obvious ill-will against Watson, but she may have not realized she was being screwed out of a Nobel Prize, not cared as long as she got to Do Science, or simply decided to be the bigger (wo)man...)
 
2013-08-23 12:54:38 PM

Amish Tech Support: Good no Carl Sagan. I would have to go all Jihad if they had Carl Sagan.


If you read his biography, he was more than a bit of a dick in certain situations.  And he definitely didn't treat his first wife well at all (something he realized himself by the end of his life).

Likewise, Stephen Hawking gets dick points for dumping his wife of decades, who helped him through all his important theoretical work as he got sicker and sicker, for a much younger post-grad student.
 
2013-08-23 01:44:05 PM

J. Frank Parnell: idsfa: No mention of BHA?

Much like Edison, it will be decades until the scientific dicks of our time are unmasked and ridiculed.

/and aspartame is easily the most insidious scientific fraud of our time


Entertaining side note:  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener when a chemist working on an ulcer medication licked his fingers to grab a piece of paper and noticed how sweet it was.

Also saccharin and sucralose also came from poor laboratory safety.
 
2013-08-23 01:53:48 PM

J. Frank Parnell: idsfa: No mention of BHA?

Much like Edison, it will be decades until the scientific dicks of our time are unmasked and ridiculed.

/and aspartame is easily the most insidious scientific fraud of our time


Actually, I meant "Butt Head Astronomer" aka Carl Sagan.  It's since been covered.
 
2013-08-23 01:56:01 PM

palan: J. Frank Parnell: idsfa: No mention of BHA?

Much like Edison, it will be decades until the scientific dicks of our time are unmasked and ridiculed.

/and aspartame is easily the most insidious scientific fraud of our time

Entertaining side note:  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener when a chemist working on an ulcer medication licked his fingers to grab a piece of paper and noticed how sweet it was.

Also saccharin and sucralose also came from poor laboratory safety.


Dr Albert Hoffman had similar issues with LSD; he didn't know it was absorbed through the skin or even what the chemical might do, so he ended up taking the first trip during his bicycle ride home from the lab.
 
2013-08-23 02:52:49 PM

You Are All Sheep: Wasn't Edison more of a businessman than a scientist?


Not according to all of our Elementary School teachers... Hell, they even call him an "inventor" in nearly everything about him, when really all he was was a a businessman, like you said. He hired people and then stole their ideas, and history gives HIM the credit for inventing them.

Sure, some have pointed out that this is becoming well known, but it's still important to let people know about this as often as possible, until history accurately portrays the slimeball...
 
2013-08-23 03:15:26 PM
All scientists are bullies.
To the Christians who dare dispute the religion of science.
 
2013-08-23 03:42:02 PM
Shockley was one of my dad's college professors. From what I hear, his reputation was well deserved.
 
2013-08-23 04:13:04 PM
images.wikia.com
 
2013-08-23 05:19:54 PM

NostroZ: The most interesting question is why do we idolize PEOPLE?   We know that they have faults, like us, or anyone else... yet we attempt to make them PERFECT.


That Jimmy Savile was a saint. A SAINT, I tell you.
 
2013-08-23 08:27:55 PM

Mikey1969: Not according to all of our Elementary School teachers... Hell, they even call him an "inventor" in nearly everything about him, when really all he was was a a businessman, like you said. He hired people and then stole their ideas, and history gives HIM the credit for inventing them.


The real reassessment of Edison started in the 1970s.  When I was in elementary school, we were given the standard rags-to-riches story; by the time I got to high school Edison was being portrayed as a showman and self-promoter who knew how to hire the right people and to throw money at it.

When I went to his lab in East Orange as a kid, about 1990, the Park guides were clear that Edison didn't invent the phonograph (the one invention attributed as being solely his own work).  Back in the 1970s, a historian had found that a Frenchman had discovered how to transcribe sound waves onto a paper or glass disc.  His article on the subject was published in an obscure French journal, so most Edison supporters claimed he could never have seen it.

Until the Park Service inventoried Edison's library in the 1980s and found... a full run of that obscure French journal. Edison had once again found someone else's idea and improved on it.
 
2013-08-23 08:41:50 PM

Dwight_Yeast: Mikey1969: Not according to all of our Elementary School teachers... Hell, they even call him an "inventor" in nearly everything about him, when really all he was was a a businessman, like you said. He hired people and then stole their ideas, and history gives HIM the credit for inventing them.

The real reassessment of Edison started in the 1970s.  When I was in elementary school, we were given the standard rags-to-riches story; by the time I got to high school Edison was being portrayed as a showman and self-promoter who knew how to hire the right people and to throw money at it.

When I went to his lab in East Orange as a kid, about 1990, the Park guides were clear that Edison didn't invent the phonograph (the one invention attributed as being solely his own work).  Back in the 1970s, a historian had found that a Frenchman had discovered how to transcribe sound waves onto a paper or glass disc.  His article on the subject was published in an obscure French journal, so most Edison supporters claimed he could never have seen it.

Until the Park Service inventoried Edison's library in the 1980s and found... a full run of that obscure French journal. Edison had once again found someone else's idea and improved on it.


It was when I was at college in '01 that I really heard about Edison for the first time. Interesting that it dovetails so nicely with everyone finally being aware of Tesla and insisting that he get the recognition he deserves...

Even though the Supremes gave him his patent rights in the 40's,they were still teaching that Marconi invented the radio in the late '70s/early 80's when I was in school...

It's amazing how bad our science textbooks are. I was still being taught that the phases of the moon were caused by the Earth's shadow, that it didn't rotate at all, and that the change in seasons was due to the difference in distance from the Earth tilting towards or away from the Sun.

God, and they tell us that it's the history textbooks that we need to watch out for.
 
2013-08-24 12:32:15 PM
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