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Why aren't there famous chemists/mathematicians in the public?

  1. Jan 11, 2013 #1
    Ok, so everyone in the public knows about albert einstein, stephen hawking, etc. Yet no one knows any chemists or mathematicians. Are they just bad at marketing themselves, or is it just that physics is more interesting to the public at large since it deals with the grandiose of the universe?
     
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  3. Jan 11, 2013 #2

    Evo

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    WHAT?? Take a look at the list of famous chemists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chemists

    Famous mathematicians

    http://math.about.com/od/mathematicians/a/mathies.htm

    I'm sure members will have favorites to add.
     
  4. Jan 11, 2013 #3

    russ_watters

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    Physics and math are so closely related I don't think it it makes sense to separate them in that way. See: Newton.

    Chemistry? How far back are we going, historically (Einstein is dead, of course -- Hawking is not)? Avogadro? Boyle? Curie? Alphabetical list here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chemists

    [edit: damn you, Evo :grumpy: ]
     
  5. Jan 11, 2013 #4

    trollcast

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    I think he means famous chemists / mathematicians that Joe public out on the street would be able to recognise / recall.
     
  6. Jan 11, 2013 #5
    Yes, that is what I said in the OP. Obviously people in science know others, but I was talking about the public
     
  7. Jan 11, 2013 #6

    trollcast

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    I'd say its probably due to the fact that the majority of people get most of their science knowledge from pop-sci or high school courses and, well chemistry doesn't make for good pop-sci in general as its not as "WOW UNIVERSE IS NOT FLAT" type of amazing.
     
  8. Jan 11, 2013 #7

    Drakkith

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    Because people don't care one bit about math or chemical reactions, but they care a great deal (or at least can care) about things like cosmic explosions, other planets, and giant particle colliders that may or may not create a black hole inside the Earth. It's all about how well the subject carries over to the uninformed. Plus, people tend to care more about the fundamental rules of how things work than how you can put them together in a million different ways. That's why shows on QM are fairly popular. That plus they quite literally change your understanding of reality.
     
  9. Jan 11, 2013 #8

    Evo

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    Pasteur, as in anything that is pasteuized, Marie Curie you can't tell me that these names aren't known to every elementary school child.
     
  10. Jan 11, 2013 #9

    russ_watters

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    You've set an impossible bar, since Einstein is probably the most famous recent scientist. Hawking doesn't even come close even though his notoriety is buoyed by the fact that he is still alive and doing guest-spots on TV shows.

    Still, I'd say it isn't so much physics as astronomy/cosmology that interests people because they can see it. See: Carl Sagan.
     
  11. Jan 11, 2013 #10
    I asked about half my calculus physics class if they knew who Feynman was, and not a single one of them knew..
     
  12. Jan 11, 2013 #11
    Haha, you think every elementary school child knows marie curie..lol. Most people learn pasteur in their high school biology with the ''cover meat with plastic and it wont have flies all over it versus the one left out in the open.
     
  13. Jan 11, 2013 #12

    russ_watters

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    Looking around a little more....

    Mr Wizard was an English major.
    Bill Nye the Science Guy is a mechanical engineer. These guys are famous because they were on TV.
     
  14. Jan 11, 2013 #13

    Evo

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    I learned about them in elementary school in our science class. I should say any American child in a public school that paid attention should know.
     
  15. Jan 11, 2013 #14
    Never heard of Mr. Wizard, but no kid knows bill nye as a mechanical engineer, he is known as a scientist (science guy)
     
  16. Jan 11, 2013 #15
    I think they know the name, but if you ask them what Curie did or is known for, I wonder how much they'd know. it is, after all, 2013. how many kids these days actually pay attention to science?
     
  17. Jan 11, 2013 #16

    russ_watters

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    His show went off the air in 1990: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Herbert

    Neo makes reference to him in "The Matrix", and being a 20-something in 1999 would put him at the right age to have watched him as a kid.

    Lets flip this over though: I wonder if non-science people in the general public who know Einstein's name know what he is famous for?
     
  18. Jan 11, 2013 #17
    E = mc^2! And most know about relativity I think, atleast have heard of it
     
  19. Jan 11, 2013 #18
    they might know that he's known for relativity or whatever but not know what relativity is. I did not know what relativity was until college
     
  20. Jan 11, 2013 #19
    I know a homeless guy who can probably name ten important chemists from history in under a minute. However, I don't know one chemist who can name 10 important homeless guys.
     
  21. Jan 11, 2013 #20

    Evo

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    Good point. I'd bet if people said anything other than he was a scientist, they'd probably say the atom bomb. Saw that in a wiki-answers as the first comment.

     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
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