Tuesday, March 30, 2010
“Ok, then it’s agreed. We can build a rocket and all get the hell out of here before any of the problems start.”
Galileo Galilei – Physicist, Mathematician, Astronomer Extraordinaire, and Champion of the Copernican Theory, through which man gets a clear view of where he or she stands in the universe. Using observations of the moons of Jupiter and phases of Venus, Galileo offered evidence that the Earth revolved around the Sun. He was the first to observe sun spots, the rings of Saturn, and mountains on the moon. Steven Hawking said, "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science." It wasn’t until 1992 that Pope John Paul II admitted that the church’s ruling against Galileo might have been a mistake.
Marie Skłodowska Curie – Physicist, Chemist, she was the first person honored with 2 Nobel Prizes; one for her pioneering work in the field of radioactivity, the other in chemistry. She created the Theory of Radioactivity, developed techniques for isolating isotopes, and discovered two new elements. During WWI Curie developed the innovation of X-rays to help surgeons locate and remove bullets on the battlefield. Even with all those accomplishments it’s hard to find a picture of her smiling.
J. Robert Oppenheimer – Physicist, Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project. Although he is known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” it is important to remember that it was the use of that weapon during WWII which shortened the war by years, saving countless lives in the process. After the war Oppenheimer became an outspoken proponent of nuclear nonproliferation. Because of that his security clearance was revoked and he was blacklisted by the McCarthy crowd.
Sir Isaac Newton - Physicist, considered by many to be one of the most influential people in history, Newton, discovered the Law of Gravity and the Three Laws of Motion. He built the first reflecting telescope, co-developed calculus, and developed a theory of color, based on the observation that white light can be broken down into primary colors. Is that enough!
Louis Pasteur – Chemist and Microbiologist, his work led to breakthroughs in fighting or preventing diseases such as anthrax, chicken cholera, and silkworm diseases. He created the first vaccine for rabies and his experiments supplied observable evidence for Germ Theory. He is regarded as one of the founders of microbiology and his process of Pasteurization gave us all something to wash down our Oreos with.
Stephen Hawking - Theoretical Physicist, he is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, Author of A Brief History of Time and, until 2009, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Hawking calculated that black holes, far from being undetectable, create and emit x-rays, known today as Hawking Radiation, until they exhaust their energy and eventually evaporate. He also did a lot of other quantum physics stuff that is hard to understand. Look it up on Wikipedia.
Albert Einstein – Besides owning a chain of bagel stores, Einstein was a Theoretical Physicist. His contributions include Special Theory of Relativity which proposed that all motion is relative and that there is no absolute state of rest. In addition, he formulated his General Theory of Relativity which described gravity not as a force but as a curvature of space/time. For his many contributions Einstein received a Nobel Prize. His groundbreaking work laid the foundation for modern Quantum Physics and to this day his hair style still sets the standard for all other scientists.
Carl Sagan – Coming in at number two for great hair, Sagan was an Astronomer and Astrochemist. Although his scientific achievements focus on the chemical composition of planets in our solar system he is best known for his popularization of science. He is co-writer of the television series, Cosmos, the most widely watched PBS program in history. His other books include Pale Blue Dot, Contact, and The Demon Haunted World (do yourself a favor and read that one).
Thomas Edison – Inventor, Businessman, and “Wizard of Menlo Park.” He was the first to apply modern production techniques to the process of inventing. With 1,093 patents his inventions include, the phonograph, the motion picture camera, the universal stock ticker, scotch tape, the wireless telegraph for communicating with ships at sea, alkaline batteries, the Dictaphone, and the electric train. Did I leave anything out?
Aristotle – Greek Philosopher, known as the father of science, his writings contain the first known formal study of logic. Unlike his teacher, Plato, Aristotle emphasized the physical world not the heavens. He felt knowledge could be gained by studying the observable universe. His branch of philosophy with its emphasis on examining nature led to the birth of physics, biology, medicine, and nearly all the other natural sciences. HE INVENTED LOGIC FOR GOD’S SAKE.
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson is a bestselling author and great popularizer of science, appearing on scores of TV and radio shows. In 2004 he hosted the miniseries Origins on PBS. He has been awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor a civilian can receive from the agency. He is presently the host of Nova Science Now and is the snappiest dresser of all the scientists depicted here.
Richard Dawkins- Evolutionary Biologist, formally Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, Dawkins popularized and advanced our understanding of evolution though his books The Selfish Gene, and The Extended Phenotype. He is also one of the leading proponents of science and rationalism, and has personally chewed up and spit out creationists and intelligent design proponents through numerous essays, debates and his book The God Delusion.
Charles Darwin – One of the four giants on this page, (the other three being Galileo, Newton and Einstein) Darwin discovered the mechanism by which evolution occurs, namely natural selection. Because of him, we know the fact that all species of life on earth have evolved over time from common ancestors. Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
...And there you have it. Now, considering science usually has to drag religion kicking and screaming into the 21st century what exactly did those guys in that other picture do? Oh yeah, they caused a lot of wars.