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Who has been the least recognized, most deserving scientist?

  1. Jul 5, 2005 #1
    Who has been the least recognized, most deserving scientist?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2005 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    Philip Anderson. And also Shin-Ichiro Nambu.
     
  4. Jul 6, 2005 #3

    Gokul43201

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    SA, you've given Tomanaga's name to Nambu ! Who did you mean ?

    And let me throw in Faraday and Ne'eman.
     
  5. Jul 7, 2005 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    Stupid mistake. I meantYoishiro Nambu.
     
  6. Jul 9, 2005 #5

    mathwonk

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    the guy or woman who tamed fire? or constructed the wheel? or invented the zipper? or the fork? writing seems useful too. and language.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2005
  7. Jul 10, 2005 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    Seems to me that although we don't know the names of the folks who invented fire and the wheel, they get plenty of kudos from popular culture.

    The invention of the zipper is a complex industrial story from the original loop-and-button technology through a whole lot of detail improvements. It was only by WWII time that zippers got reliable enough to be used in the flies of men's pants. I well remember the transition from buttons around 1946, and being nervoous as to whether they might accidentally gape.

    Here's another scientist: Joseph Henry. Tony Rothman has another of his wonderful science history debunking books out, this one called Everything's Relative., and one of his chapters is "Joseph Henry and the Discovery of (Nearly) Everything". Including much in electromagnetism that is credited to Faraday, Ohm, and others, the key invention for Morse's telegraph (the relay), and, in 1849, spark gap radio waves; detected and explained as waves, decades before Herz.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2005
  8. Jul 10, 2005 #7

    mathwonk

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    when you say the unknown inventor or discoverer of fire got many kudoes, nonetheless they were not bestowed on that person. isn't it a little analogous to someone inventing something for which another party is wrongly feted? i.e. in those unknown cases it is the invention and not the inventor which is recognized.

    i doubt if a person who sees another person wrongly being honored for his own invention feels properly honored. for instance i wonder if arthur brown would feel properly recognized by the fact that his resut is known almosat universally as sard's theorem.

    or if someone says: "here is a wonderful idea that came to light recently", and the idea is yours, but he does not credit you with that idea, do you feel recognized?

    indeed if the definition of unrecognized requires that the work itself be unrecognized, we are going to have trouble naming anyone, or convincing anyone of their importance if we do name them, since even their work is unknown.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2005
  9. Jul 10, 2005 #8

    matt grime

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    have any of you heard of Adam Hart Davis? He isn't a famous scientist, or one desrving of fame but cruelly overlooked. No. He (and Fred Dibnah) are advocates of the engineers and scientists we often forget. There are many cases of misapplied fame: Florence Nightingale over MAry Seacroft. Stephenson being wrongly misrepresented as the inventor of steam power (steam engines were powering the mines for yewars before stephenson thanks to James Watt) or Hippocrates over Galen perhaps. Then there is Rosalind Franklin whose name we forget when thinking about DNA.
     
  10. Jul 10, 2005 #9

    Pyrrhus

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    Marconi over Tesla with respect to the radio.
     
  11. Jul 10, 2005 #10

    selfAdjoint

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    Matt, you really should read that Rothman book Everything's Relative. He discusses the steam engine; did you ever hear of Captain Savary and his Miner's Friend? Then he and Newcomen went together and built a piston type steam engine practically a century before Watt.
     
  12. Jul 11, 2005 #11

    mathwonk

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    reminds me of one afternoon in rome when my children asked me who invented the car and i said something like henry ford.

    so then i looked in the larousse encyclopedia and found that a frenchman had invented it long before. so just to be thorough i looked in the italian encylcopedia and found that galileo had designed (but not built) one much before that!

    or maybe it was the wright brothers and the airplane, anyway, it was enlightening in principle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2005
  13. Jul 11, 2005 #12

    mathwonk

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    proper attribution is difficult, partly from the way our minds work, and partly from self deception. i.e. if i read something and fail to understand it, sometimes, a very long time later it will bubble to the top of my mind as if i had discovered it myself. and i will think that, especially if it suits my desire to be the discoverer.

    reading riemann this summer has caused me to believe he is the source of almost everyu mathematical and physiocal idea i had ever attributed to anyone else, but some of them were done before by euler, or liouville, etc... still he improved them.


    the more i learn about mathematics the more it seems that all significant discoveries build strongly on previous work. i.e. mathematical progress is only incremental, but many writings conceal this, consciously or subconsciously.

    it is not einsteins fault of course but some key ideas i had always attributed to him, and which i recall as attributed to him by others, such as p.w. bridgman in "the logic of modern physics" are already in riemann.

    indeed it is very persuasive to me to believe that einstein read riemann and started his work as a continuation of riemann's essay "on the hypotheses which underlie the foundations of geometry".

    indeed the inductive definition of dimension i wrote of elsewhere here, and attrobuted first to poincare, then found in riemann, already appears essentially in euclid! (and who knows where he got it from?)
     
  14. Jul 11, 2005 #13
    Are you saying Marconi was given credit for inventing radio when Tesla should have been given credit, or vice versa?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2005
  15. Jul 11, 2005 #14
    I don't have time to look up the names right now, but the woman who discovered the structure of DNA first and the 19th Century Englishman who designed the first computer, but couldn't raise the funds to build one.
     
  16. Jul 11, 2005 #15

    matt grime

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    The DNA woman was Rosalind Franklin.
     
  17. Jul 11, 2005 #16

    selfAdjoint

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    Rosalind Franklin took some famous X-ray diffraction photos of DNA molecules, that clearly indicated a helical structure. But everybody* already expected a helix; the point was a DOUBLE helix, the complementarity of the bases, the role of the sugars, and the detail working out of the bonds. That is what solving the structure of the molecule means and that is what Watson and Crick did, and what Franklin didn't do.

    Babbitt was the designer of the mechanical stored-program computer, which never got fully built.

    *Namely Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and their great rival Linus Pauling.
     
  18. Jul 13, 2005 #17

    Pyrrhus

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    Yes, that's what i'm saying (most importantly Marconi won a Nobel Prize for it!).
     
  19. Jul 14, 2005 #18
    The thousands of unamed scientists laboring away in obscurity.
     
  20. Jul 15, 2005 #19

    arildno

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    I must agree with those, like matt grime, who have picked out engineering types, rather than "scientists" (they ARE scientists, but often tends to be forgotten as that in favour of the theoretical physicist working mostly on the blackboard).
    Another group of scientists who deserves more (public) recognition are "experimentalists".

    Of course, no one knowledgeable in science would deny the crucial work of these groups; but they seem to have some difficulties getting into the public image of what a "true scientist" is supposed to be doing.
     
  21. Jul 15, 2005 #20

    mathwonk

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    did you mean babbage? (babbitt was a fictional character created by sinclair lewis.)

    i think all those mathematicians who apparently created the geometry and arithmetic that euclid recorded were pretty amazing. :surprised
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2005
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