Can you name someone that pulled off a certain impossible feat academically?

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Could be someone you know, or someone you heard/read about.

By "certain impossible feat academically?" I mean someone who achieved something that is really, really impressive and must be a combination of individual merit, endeavor, talent and of course, luck. Someone for example won the Draper Prize then went on to get a Nobel Prize. Someone attained 4 degrees or more including say a doctorate.

I don't know any but I sure'd like to read up on them on wikepedia!

Edit: please, no jokes.

I actually looked up and found one: Emily Calandarelli. 4 STEM degrees including 2 M.A. from MIT. Impressive to say the least.
 
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  • #2
.Scott
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Dr. Sheldon Cooper probably qualifies for many academic "impossible feats"
 
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  • #3
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I was in high school with a guy that got 800 / 800 SAT scores. In the early 1970's you could not score higher than that. Not sure how they score them now.

Perfect scoring in both math and verbal must be pretty unusual. Saying that, now I'm expecting a bunch of PF'rs "oh, me too" ha ha.
 
  • #4
.Scott
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Perhaps you would settle for half a "me too". I scored in the high 600's on the verbal, but aced the Math in both my Junior and Senior years. I also took the Math II achievement and aced that one as well. I graduated High School in 1971.
 
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On the entrance exams to Princeton for graduate school, Richard Feynman aced the physics portion and had an outstanding score on the mathematics section. He did bad on the history and English sections, however.
 
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Emmy Noether
 
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  • #7
phinds
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My best bud in high school got 800 on the advanced math test and to all our amazement he decided to take it again the following year. He did and got another 800. I had a piddling 780 and no way was *I* going to take it again.
 
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Ygggdrasil
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Frank Ryan, earned a PhD in mathematics and worked as a math professor, all while playing quarterback in the NFL. Indeed, he led the Browns to a NFL Championship in 1964, then earned his PhD from Rice in 1965.

(In more modern times, John Urschel played in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens while he was a PhD student in math at MIT)
 
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Frank Ryan, earned a PhD in mathematics and worked as a math professor, all while playing quarterback in the NFL. Indeed, he led the Browns to a NFL Championship in 1964, then earned his PhD from Rice in 1965.

(In more modern times, John Urschel played in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens while he was a PhD student in math at MIT)

Holy. These dudes are wild!
 
  • #10
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Emily Calandarelli. 4 STEM degrees including 2 M.A. from MIT. Impressive to say the least.
Two masters is not an "impossible feat". It's much less work than a single PhD, which requires an original contribution to human knowledge.
 
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  • #12
phinds
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BTW, if "impossible" feats are accomplished, then they are not impossible; challenging perhaps, but not impossible.
Exactly. The title of this thread annoys me greatly. What's worse is that he as decided that now HE gets to define what impossible means and it doesn't mean what the rest of us think it means.
By "certain impossible feat academically?" I mean ...
 
  • #13
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Two masters? I bet there must be a million people who have done that.
 
  • #14
Ygggdrasil
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Here's another example of someone who combines academic achievement with high levels of talent in another field: Igor Lovchinsky, who was trained as a classical pianist with a Bachelor's degree from Julliard and later went on to get a PhD in Physics from Harvard.
 
  • #15
George Jones
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Two masters? I bet there must be a million people who have done that.
My wife being one of them.

Someone attained 4 degrees or more
My wife has four degrees, each from a different Canadian university,

including say a doctorate.
She does not have a Ph.D., and she has four degrees only because of changing career goals, physics -> engineering-> teaching. She has a B.Sc. in Physics (York), an M.Sc. in Physics (Windsor), and M.A.Sc. in Material Science Engineering (Toronto), and a B.Ed. (New Brunswick). She is now a high school teacher.

British physicist Chris Isham did some amazing things as a Ph.D. student. Fom ""Group Theory for the Standard Model of Particle Physics and Beyond" by Ken Barnes

Isham.jpg
 
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Two masters is not an "impossible feat". It's much less work than a single PhD, which requires an original contribution to human knowledge.
But she's got like, 4 degrees. That's still something.
 
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BTW, if "impossible" feats are accomplished, then they are not impossible; challenging perhaps, but not impossible.
Metaphorically, not literally.

Never mind...
 
  • #18
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Exactly. The title of this thread annoys me greatly. What's worse is that he as decided that now HE gets to define what impossible means and it doesn't mean what the rest of us think it means.
Doesn't "impossible" means "incredible" and "unbelievable" a lot of the times?

E.g. "Your hang-up on semantics and the literal definition of terms are impossibly stubborn"
 
  • #19
phinds
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Doesn't "impossible" means "incredible" and "unbelievable" a lot of the times?

E.g. "Your hang-up on semantics and the literal definition of terms are impossibly stubborn"
Well, this is a science forum and hard definitions and precised usage are more readily accepted than loose ones such as the ones you point out, which are sloppy causal useage that are obviously not technically true. Yes, people DO say things like that but I don't think that, for example, "impossibly stubborn" could even HAVE a solid definition, it's just a causal every-day careless language usage.

The most widely accepted casual usage is something like "impossible to deal with", which in some cases may actually be literally true although more likely it just means "incredibly hard to deal with", NOT actually impossible.

You might want to reflect on the fact that I'm not the only one in the thread who commented on your usage.
 
  • #20
Office_Shredder
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My wife got two masters degrees for free as part of the PhD she is doing, if you want to find the minimal effort required to get such a combination of degrees.


In general, degree programs are designed to be passed. Even getting like, two phds is interesting and required a lot of effort, but I don't think any special skill necessarily. Most people don't get two phds because they're busy applying the knowledge they got from the first one. Tv is probably to blame for this misconception.
 
  • #21
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But she's got like, 4 degrees. That's still something.
So we have moved from "impossible" to "still something".

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
I suspect you will find that people quickly tire of this game.
 
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  • #22
Astronuc
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Metaphorically, not literally.

Never mind...
Seemingly impossible would have been a better way to phrase the question.
 
  • #23
.Scott
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Once he edited the OP to exclude fictional characters, a literal interpretation for "impossible" was excluded.
 
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I suggested Emmy Noether, but didn't explain why or what her feats were.

She was one of the most brilliant and influential mathematician/physicists of all time, but there are a lot of others you could name. The reason I singled out Noether is that she defied the rules, and did something which was intended to be literally impossible: be a woman and teach mathematics and advise students at Göttingen.

She also was very hard working, humble, and extremely successful; even while being denied the title and pay she deserved. But the "impossible" achievement was really just being there when she officially wasn't allowed to be.
 
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Hardly an impossible feat but interesting anyway. Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years was actually a good mathematician, being one of the co-authors of the Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem:
https://terrytao.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/math-doesnt-suck-and-the-chayes-mckellar-winn-theorem/

Oh - I forgot to mention she did it as an undergraduate. She did not do a PhD after immediately after graduating instead pursuing her acting career etc, but returned later and completed one.

Thanks
Bill
 
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