64 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

It seems ball lightning was disbelieved by scientists until around 1960. See Wikipedia . I knew a geologist who told us how his eye-witness account of ball lightning had been ridiculed. He had ...
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
  • 10.3k
56 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

In 1726's Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift mocked the learned scientists of Britain for not having solved the Longitude problem: Figure out a way to keep track of one's east-west location to within ...
Jasper's user avatar
  • 677
53 votes
Accepted

Is it true that Albert Einstein was kicked out of high school due to his "peacefulness"?

The most important resource with regard to Albert Einstein's biography are Princeton University's Collected Papers. Particularly relevant to the question is John Stachel (ed.), The Collected Papers of ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,516
38 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

This isn't a topic I'm familiar with, just something I've read on Quanta, but according to this article, Richard Kershner of Johns Hopkins claimed to have a complete classification of convex pentagon ...
Kevin Long's user avatar
30 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

I think a famous example is the Monty Hall problem about switching doors. The problem was answered correctly by Marilyn vos Savant, but she got baskets of letters from experts that she is wrong.
Karl's user avatar
  • 409
27 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

Take meteorites, for instance. By the end of the XVIIIth century, educated people “knew” that no rock found on Earth could possibly have fallen from the sky, in spite of the evidence (...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
23 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

Just warning not to include pre-1920s medicine (and a lot of medical mantra thru the 20th century), as there was little to no science involved amongst physicians. Just look at how difficult it was ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
23 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

The Wright Brothers, both bicycle mechanics, solved both the control and power problems of heavier-than-air manned flight in 1902, beating the well funded aeronautical academic scientists of the ...
russelld's user avatar
  • 331
23 votes
Accepted

What are some early examples of large international scientific collaborations?

The conversion to the metric system in Continental Europe in the 1870s was a coordinated process, involving scientists and politicians from a multitude of nations. Apart from the processes in the ...
Per Manne's user avatar
  • 559
22 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

I'd be tempted to add Gregor Mendel, whose experiments on plants and his analysis demonstrated how genes work, to that list. It wasn't so much that the 'professional' scientists of the time considered ...
Mac Harwood's user avatar
21 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

Michael Ventris, an amateur philologist, (he was an architect) managed to decipher the Mycenean script known as Linear B, a problem that professional specialists had been trying to solve for decades.
xxavier's user avatar
  • 684
19 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

The Green Flash was described for the first time (at least in the Western literature) by Jules Verne, a science fiction writer. Many scientists did not believe until photographs were taken and ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
17 votes

What are some early examples of large international scientific collaborations?

They didn't all go to the same place, but many, hundreds?, of scientists took part in expeditions all over the world to observe the 1761 and 1769 transits of Venus. Perhaps the most famous of these ...
user15231's user avatar
  • 171
15 votes

Famous scientists in the Nazi party

The most famous mathematicians who were the members of NSDAP are Ludwig Bieberbach and Oswald Teichmüller.
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
14 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

Mathematicians have been looking for amicable numbers for millenia. The smallest pair $(220, 284)$ was known to the Pythagoreans, and several larger pairs and a formula for generating them were found ...
Spencer's user avatar
  • 592
12 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

The Mpemba effect, named after a Tanzanian student who discovered that a hot ice cream mix freezes faster than a cold mix in cookery classes in the early 1960s was initially ridiculed. ...
ZeroTheHero's user avatar
12 votes

What are some early examples of large international scientific collaborations?

Struve Geodetic Arc was a series of geodetic measurements conducted in (according to borders at that time) Russia, Sweden and Norway between 1816 and 1855. The purpose was to more accurately determine ...
jpa's user avatar
  • 243
11 votes

Examples of when the professional scientists or mathematicians were wrong, but the nonprofessionals were right

Rogue/Freak waves. It seems that reports of these were considered myths by science for a long time until they were finally recorded. (However this is not an exact answer to the question - no non-...
Sascha's user avatar
  • 219
9 votes

Why were 20th Century German scientists so impressive?

Given the historical circumstances the German education system might or might not have played a significant role in the formation of these scientists. In his collection of essays entitled "Brocas ...
polymechanos's user avatar
9 votes

Famous scientists in the Nazi party

The mathematician who would have been famous had he not been a member of the SS / Nazi Party and died in a POW camp is, I think, Gerhard Gentzen. He invented/rigourously described natural deduction ...
Willemien's user avatar
  • 303
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
9 votes
Accepted

What is the oldest open question solved in mathematics?

The Delian problem (doubling the cube) and the angle trisection problem are probably the oldest ones, though their exact age is not known. (Same applies to all problems of constructions with ruler and ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
9 votes

What are some early examples of large international scientific collaborations?

Here are two older examples. The first is ancient Mouseion (Musaeum) founded c. 300 BC after the Alexandrian conquests that briefly unified the Hellenistic world, a prototype of modern academies. ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 75.9k
8 votes

Great scientists with chaotic private lives

Kurt Gödel was certainly known as an eccentric in his life. In fact it is said that he starved to death when his wife died as he refused to take meals from anyone but his wife. In the language of ...
Jofiseen's user avatar
7 votes

Great scientists with chaotic private lives

There is nothing special about great scientists, their personal life is in general like the personal life of other people. If you mean by "chaotic personal life" things like "estranged his wife and ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
6 votes

Famous scientists in the Nazi party

After the Second World War, Operation Paperclip was started to bring certain top German scientists to America. Many of these had worked on military applications for the Nazis (developing rockets etc.),...
auden's user avatar
  • 193
5 votes

Great scientists with chaotic private lives

Georg Cantor faced many difficulties and died in a sanatorium. Alan Turing faced persecution and ultimately committed suicide. Both are titans of mathematics.
sfmiller940's user avatar
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
  • 2,177
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

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