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Insane physicists and mathematicians

  1. Jan 19, 2004 #1
    Anyone heard any stories of great mathematicians and physics going crazy? I always find those stories entertaining.
    Physics question: Do you think it is theoretically possible to accelerate mass beyond the speed of light? How certain are we of Einstein's prediction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2004 #2
    define "crazy" in this particular context.
  4. Jan 19, 2004 #3
    Well, if you had to deal with abstract Maths, which are virtual descriptions of our Realictic world, then it is enough to test the greatest minds. Of course just contemplating Time within in Nature is enough to make the most craziest? or sane? person undistinguishable!

    Of course there is the route wherby one can just label certain theories and their functions as Fantasy, stringtheory and Quantum Mechanics rely on this very notion, wether this is just a vail for the sane outsiders,is open to question.

    Yes it is possible to accelerate mass beyond the speed of light, ask any Fantacist!
  5. Jan 19, 2004 #4
    I don't know the entire background to this but there is the story of George Ellery Hale. He was one of the founding fathers of CalTech and was the main fundraiser for Mount Palomar. He had some serious psychological problems. It is said that he had an imaginary elf who acted as his advisor. Whether he went crazy or he was always like that I don't know.

    For more on Hale see
    No. The faster the particle moves the larger its mass becomes and approaches infinity as v -> c. Thus it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an elecrtron to the speed of light.
  6. Jan 19, 2004 #5
    I don't know about the neccesary conditions. How about a sufficient one? Anyone who has an imaginary elf as an advisor is a sufficient reason to refer to them as "crazy."
  7. Jan 19, 2004 #6
    Does John Nash qualify as "crazy"?
    Is he just eccentric?
    Or maybe, just very imaginative?

    I think (as passe and cliche as it sounds) that the line between brilliant and crazy is very thin.
    The closer you get to it (from either side) the closer you get to crossing it.
    I am not sure, however, who is really qualified to say which side of the line someone may live on.
  8. Jan 19, 2004 #7


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    There are a small number of mathematicians, especially who had mental problems. John Nash has been mentioned. Kurt Goedel suffered from clinical paranoia at the end of his life.

    But I don't think the rate of mental problems in the "great scientist" category is any higher than in the general population. Einstein was as stable as they come, Feynmann too. All the founders of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory and string physics had/have their wits about them.
  9. Jan 19, 2004 #8
    Stable in what sense? It's pretty well known that Einstein had some serious marital problems early in his life. I recall someone once saying I'd love to buy Einstein a beer but I wouldn't introduce him to my sister.

    It's also be speculated that he was perhaps dyslexic. Highly intelligent people tend to be.
  10. Jan 19, 2004 #9
    Yea John Nash was crazy, he started seing people, that must be reason enough to be classified as crazy.

    I reckons Tesla was Crazy aswell, but not so sure.
  11. Jan 19, 2004 #10
    Theodore Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) .
    A Harvard graduate, former math professor at Berkeley, and a murderer - he was as unstable as they come, passing judgement on who should live or die (i.e. the socially elite)

    On a minor note he was a plagiarist.
  12. Jan 19, 2004 #11
    Just as a clarification, I'm pretty sure John Nash didn't see people, he only heard voices. Still qualifies as crazy though.
  13. Jan 19, 2004 #12
    Ah well, in the film he was seeing people, damned hollywood if you cant trust them then who can you trust!
  14. Jan 19, 2004 #13
    There is always( I think it is correct to state this), some sort of traumatic event?.. that tips people from a balanced footing to one that is deemed 'unstable'by those people around the victim who are not experiencing the Trauma?

    I have heard it said also that many top?..students get pushed closer to the 'edge'? as so much is expected from them?

    The expression 'Close to the Edge' can relay much about a person, but without actually giving any insights to what this person is experiencing, even machines can go 'Ballistic'


    Also it is one of my favorite music Albums of all time:http://yescography.tripod.com/closetot.htm

    Album-Song-Close to the Edge, Lyric snippit:The time between the notes relates the color to the scenes.
    A constant vogue of triumphs dislocate man, it seems.
    And space between the focus shape ascend knowledge of love.
    As song and chance develop time, lost social temp'rance rules above.
    Ah, ah.

    Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space,
    He turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race.
    I shook my head and smiled a whisper, knowing all about the place.
    On the hill we viewed the silence of the valley,
    Called to witness cycles only of the past.
    And we reach all this with movements in between the said remark.

    Close to the edge, down by the river.
    Down at the end, round by the corner.
    Seasons will pass you by,
    Now that it's all over and done,
    Called to the seed, right to the sun.
    Now that you find, now that you're whole.
    Seasons will pass you by,
    I get up, I get down.
    I get up, I get down.
    I get up, I get down.
    I get up.

    And a collarge of colors(my interpretation/doodles for fun?)

    http://groups.msn.com/Youcanseehomefromhere/tempusfugititalsodrags.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=8 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  15. Jan 19, 2004 #14


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    Ranyart, both are beautiful. Too bad that the flash from the camera washed out the bottom of the picture. You did that picture? I am very impressed.
  16. Jan 19, 2004 #15
    Thanks Evo!

    Well the truth is that it was intentional(second try-first was to faint), I was reaching for..well a Jungian conscious image! with a Unrugh Radiation, coupled mode of transportation.

    Spelling mistakes aside, the picture answers the question?..without actually having a question in the first place, its meant to be viewed, and I assume the veiwer will ask:Whats it all about?

    The title gives the answer! a pre-determined perspective?..who knows:wink:
  17. Jan 20, 2004 #16


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    What's the significance of the Dark Side of the Moon triangle/rainbow at the top of the image?
  18. Jan 20, 2004 #17
    If you take a close look from the WhiteHole light source at the right>through the Blackhole Prism(connecting space), the rainbow has a definate border, cutoff point?..follow it through to the left Low energy Gas cloud?

    There is a 'Hologram impression' The rest may be up to you, as I'm not saying to much!
  19. Jan 20, 2004 #18
    It's interesting how modern medicine has so greatly expounded what consitutes mental illness. If a child wishes to pursue an interest fervently in isolation he must then be anti-social; indeed, he must suffer from social anxiety disorder, so let's get him medicated! I think an Einstein quote best exemplifies this:

    Indeed, it can be, and it is my opinion that many Einstein'esque minds were lost due to parental ambitions to prevent such solitude. The solitude that the likes of Newton and Einstein enjoyed in the creation of their magnum opus' would most certainly be considered a fit of mental illness by today's standards. I've even read reports by psychologists who indicated that Newton suffered from manic-depressive disorder.

    If they had the menagerie of medication available for such ostensible mental dysfunction as we do today, would we still have the Principia? Would Isaac Newton on Prozac be the Isaac Newton? Why is there such a need to render such scintillating intellects quiescent? I understand there are legitimate illnesses that require attention, but it seems we are all too quick to medicate our children at the slightest abberation from the socio-norm.
  20. Jan 20, 2004 #19
    And how many Einstein'esque minds were lost due to parents ignoring their solitude?

    Arguments involving peoples children becoming the next Einstein generally don't have much merit. They're generally based on speculation, not really solid facts.

    Of course, I'm not saying that children aren't overmedicated. I think too much emphasis is put on being "normal", whatever that's supposed to mean. But this just isn't a very good argument.
  21. Jan 20, 2004 #20
    Later in life, Faraday suffered from debilitating depression.

    Tesla suffered his whole life from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was compelled to perform lengthy, pointless tasks before allowing himself to do something he needed or wanted to do, fearing that if he didn't there would be dire consequences. He could not eat, for instance, unless he first calculated the volume of the bowl or dish holding his food.
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