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31 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

I would say that Henry Cavendish (1731–1810) fits this description. A hugely rich man (at the time of his death he was the largest depositor in the Bank of England) he was also a loner in a huge scale....
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
19 votes

Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

According to this, it's a modern fabrication: Although Einstein’s initial application for a doctorate at the University of Bern (he had previously been awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich in ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 5,371
19 votes
Accepted

Who is the lady on the image?

This is a stylized picture of a generic pretty lady of the mid 1700's, created in the mid 1800's to illustrate a sentimental poem in a book collection of such for the amusement of genteel young ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 2,555
14 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

The most commonly mentioned name in this context is Nicola Tesla, he is even featured as such in some fiction (e.g. Tomorrowland). He was brilliant, eccentric, kept to himself, and had some wacky ...
Conifold's user avatar
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13 votes
Accepted

Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

http://www.uniaktuell.unibe.ch/2016/die_einstein_faelschung/index_eng.html This is the official link from The University of Bern itself which declares it as a fraud.
Soham's user avatar
  • 911
13 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

André Bloch is an extreme case: He murdered three of his family members. Being institutionalised for the rest of his life, he wrote influential mathematical papers (on complex analysis). Quote from ...
Torsten Schoeneberg's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Is the anecdote about Niels Bohr keeping a horseshoe on his door true?

One can spot a fabricated story by a number of tells: absence of the original citation, shifty dates (in Heisenberg's version, Bohr was telling it in 1927), proliferation of mutually exclusive details ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.6k
12 votes

Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

Its far more obvious than all of your assumptions, the supposed author of the letter was dead for more than 25 years by 1907. Case closed
Theo's user avatar
  • 129
10 votes

Day-to-day tasks of human computers, à la Hidden Figures movie

If you are interested in descriptions of “everyday life” of human computers, here is an excerpt from Stan Ulam’s autobiography, Adventures of a Mathematician (University of California Press, 1991) ...
Margaret Friedland's user avatar
9 votes

Question related to the legitimacy of a certain portrait of Christian Goldbach

Our recent edition of Christian Goldbach's correspondence with Leonhard Euler (Leonhardi Euleri Opera Omnia, series IVA, vol.4, Springer: Basel, 2015) has a short biography of Goldbach (Introduction 1....
Martin Mattmüller's user avatar
9 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

Besides the other excellent answers, maybe Georg Cantor could fit your description, with some serious caveats. Although the details of his life have been extremely romanticized (e.g. the widespread ...
Easymode44's user avatar
9 votes

Scientists who made a mark in the world despite their disabilities

Leonard Euler, whom many consider the greatest mathematician of all times, and also the most prolific one, was partially or completely blind during most of his career. His sight began to deteriorate ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

I think Paul Dirac would have certain characteristics which fit this category. Often called as "theorist's theorist", Dirac was science's archetypal loners,taciturn and devoid of empathy. He has an ...
Vatsal Limbachia's user avatar
8 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

I almost hesitate to offer this answer, because I don't want to suggest in any way that its subject was really a 'mad scientist' at all. But he did show a few of the other characteristics suggested in ...
terry-s's user avatar
  • 4,590
7 votes

Who was this man (who is not Bruno Pontecorvo)?

I confirm that it is definitely not Bruno Pontecorvo on the first picture (and on the Wikipedia English article at the moment). I knew Bruno Pontecorvo well for a long time beginning in early 60's, I ...
Guenakh Mitselmakher's user avatar
6 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

Kari Mullis, inventor/discoverer of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for fast analysis of DNA samples, was into wild LSD rides and espoused near-Scientology-level beliefs in supernatural goings-on. ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
6 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

Kurt Gödel achieved some of the most important breakthroughs in logic in the 20th century. As far as mental instability is concerned, quote from Wikipedia: Later in his life, Gödel suffered ...
Torsten Schoeneberg's user avatar
6 votes

Do you know about this anecdote or its source where the mother reads out the letter to Gauss and made him Gauss, the mathematician?

The following is taken from the book Walter K. Buhler, "Gauss: a biographical study." Springer Verlag, 1981. Only a very few characteristic and interesting facts are known from the childhood ...
Moishe Kohan's user avatar
  • 1,746
5 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

Sophus Lie probably qualifies, being both a great mathematician and a patient of mental institutions. According his Wiki, he largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the ...
akhmeteli's user avatar
  • 961
5 votes

Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

Georg Cantor is well known as someone who was admitted to a mental asylum several times in his lifetime, mainly it seems because of the opposition to his ideas on the characterising mathematical ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
5 votes

Best books/papers on Newton and his mathematical physics

The standard book about Newton's life is Never at Rest by Richard Westfall. On my opinion it is a very good book, it covers his life in great detail, and gives a general overview of his activities (...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
5 votes

Looking for a specific story about young Stephen Hawking

This story has been depicted in The Theory of Everything, a 2014 biographical romantic drama film directed by James Marsh detailing the life of the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. In an early ...
Big Brother's user avatar
  • 2,187
5 votes

Is there any scientist whose work was not recognised during his/her lifetime and was underestimated?

Julius Robert Mayer is now known for enunciating in 1841 one of the original statements of the conservation of energy (First Law of Thermodynamics). But his achievements were overlooked, and priority ...
Big Brother's user avatar
  • 2,187
5 votes

Is there any scientist whose work was not recognised during his/her lifetime and was underestimated?

George Green springs to mind. Whilst he had a very interesting, and not unsuccessful life, it was only after his death and Lord Kelvin looking through his works on mathematical physics that he was ...
NickM's user avatar
  • 77
5 votes

Do you know about this anecdote or its source where the mother reads out the letter to Gauss and made him Gauss, the mathematician?

This story has often been associated with Thomas Edison but is, in fact, a made-up anecdote. The origin of this story is because of the fact that Edison spent only a few months in a formal classroom ...
Big Brother's user avatar
  • 2,187
5 votes

Who is the lady on the image?

Possibly Émilie du Châtelet who was certainly of the right historical period (1706-1740, compared with Louis XV's reign of 1715-1774). Her best remembered achievement was a translation of Newton's ...
alephzero's user avatar
  • 159
4 votes

Day-to-day tasks of human computers, à la Hidden Figures movie

The first memo, on orbit determination, that Katherine Johnson did with a co-worker is The Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite over a Selected Earth Position 1960. T.H. ...
nealmcb's user avatar
  • 221
4 votes

What was Pauling's claim about vitamin C?

Among other things (I was present at one of Pauling's lectures), Pauling used examples of Vitamin C levels in various mammals as evidence that humans should use more. FWIW, it was the opinion of most ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
4 votes

How did USA become world leader in STEM?

interesting question for historians, a bit like "why did Rome fall?" my guess: public money. for many years the us govt has funded scientific research to the tune of many billions of dollars per ...
mobileink's user avatar
  • 291

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