33 votes

Historical example of research papers being misinterpreted due to poor wording and creating controversy?

Giovanni Schiaparelli ... He wrote in 1877 about his telescopic observations of Mars. He described some features using the Italian word canali. English translation would be channels. But the term ...
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30 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....
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26 votes

Did Galileo Galilei believe in astrology?

Galileo not only believed but taught and actively practiced astrology, like Ptolemy and Kepler before him. His primary source might have been Porphyry’s commentary on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos. In ...
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17 votes

Instances of suppression of scientific ideas

In Soviet Union, in 1948 genetics was officially banned. Researchers in genetics had either co confess publicly that they were doing pseudo-science and switch to another activity, or were dismissed. ...
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16 votes
Accepted

How did "publish or perish" become the scientific priority rule?

The main reason for "publish or perish" is not securing priority. (Newton did not publish much, but was very much concerned about priority. Some such people exist even now). The reason is that "...
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16 votes
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Did Grothendieck really say that he felt "clumsy, even oafish, wandering painfully up an arduous track"?

Yes, the quote is essentially authentic. This is from a typeset version "Récoltes et Semailles", specfically from "2.2 L’importance d’être seul." (To find the document online should be possible ...
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15 votes
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What major areas of mathematics have been abandoned?

I would say that no area of mathematics has ever been completely abandoned. The areas go in and out of fashion, but nothing seems to be completely abandoned. For example, approximately in 1940's most ...
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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 ...
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13 votes

Was Galileo a plagiarizer?

By this standard why single out Galileo? Euclid "plagiarized" Elements, there isn't a single theorem in it that can be reliably attributed to him, and there are entire books that can be attributed to ...
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13 votes
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Was Galileo a plagiarizer?

See Heytesbury and the Physical Sciences and Nicole Oresme for detailed information about the so-called Oxford Calculators and their contribution (mainly) to mathematics. The issue is not so clearly ...
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13 votes
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What are some of the earliest mentions of scientific "cranks"?

There are lots of references to cranks in A Budget of Paradoxes, by Augustus de Morgan (1806–1871), who calls them “paradoxers”. There, he writes […] I say something on my ...
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13 votes
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Did Bacon analogize planets to holes in the head to explain why their number was (believed to be) seven?

This probably refers to the "argument" of the Florentine astronomer Francesco Sizzi against the validity of Galileo's discovery of the moons of Jupiter. His "argument" was ...
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12 votes

How did "royal we" become a standard of scientific writing?

The "we" in the scientific papers does not mean the "royal we". This "we" means "you and I", that is "the author and the reader". For example, in proving something they say "let us consider"... and ...
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12 votes

Examples of papers co-authored by parent/child, or siblings

Check out these mathematicians: A father, and two sons, all of whom co-authored papers in various combinations. David Borwein, father Peter Borwein, son Jonathan Borwein, son Peter's memorial to ...
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12 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 ...
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11 votes
Accepted

What were Hilbert's weekly 1933 lectures on "matters of general intellectual interest" about?

Here is MacLane's sentence about the lectures in its entirety: "Although the leading mathematician, David Hilbert, had retired and came only once a week to lecture on matters of general ...
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10 votes

Conflict between physics and philosophy

The modern conflict is not so much between physics and philosophy, as between physics and "half" of philosophy, the continental philosophy. Scientists, and physicists in particular, see culturally ...
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  • 65.8k
10 votes

When and why were mathematics and magic considered synonymous in England

Surely it was not peculiar to England. Saint Augustine wrote "The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the ...
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  • 1,197
10 votes

Examples of papers co-authored by parent/child, or siblings

Elie and Henri Cartan (father and son) published a paper together, in 1931 (Les transformations des domaines cerclés bornés).
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10 votes
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Where did the term "set-builder notation" come from?

The nickname appears to be a creation of the New Math movement, and spread from the math education literature. The notation itself in its modern form can be traced back to Lefschetz's Algebraic ...
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9 votes

Examples of papers co-authored by parent/child, or siblings

Arthur Leonard Rubin co-authored at least two papers with his mother, Jean Estelle Hirsh Rubin, the first one below when he was 13 years old. Arthur L. Rubin and Jean E. Rubin, Extended operations ...
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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 ...
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9 votes

Did Galileo Galilei believe in astrology?

The Galileo's astrology activities are well summarized in Conifold's answer. But, in relevance to the question at hand (did he believe it worked) I'd like to make a couple of points: The fact that ...
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8 votes

What major areas of mathematics have been abandoned?

Geometry I'm not sure you can really call geometry abandoned, but it certainly was much more popular a few hundred years ago (discovery of spherical geometry and hyperbolical geometry, parallel axiom ...
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  • 2,852
8 votes
Accepted

Did the Soviet Union emphasize nuclear physics over biology?

Your friend told you an anecdote, possibly in jest, because the truth seems comically twisted beyond recognition. Historical events dating back to 1930-1960s did influence the development of Soviet ...
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  • 65.8k
8 votes
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Indiana Pi Bill: Other attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat?

It seems that this attempt made an impression, when one needs to make the point Indiana Pi itself is typically invoked. NMSR Reports modeled their 1998 April Fool's story on it: "NASA engineers and ...
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  • 65.8k
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 ...
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  • 2,809
8 votes
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Has a stereotypical "mad scientist" ever made a significant discovery?

While this might not be a popular view, I think that Newton would fit this criterion. He was extremely isolated and socially alone. He was surrounded by all sorts of crazy ideas and spent more time on ...
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  • 1,001
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 ...
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