Credo’s special #4 – scientists
People with brilliant minds are fascinating, and their ideas are worth spreading. This month we decided to tell you about amazing scientists that everyone should know! Their contributions to the world could not stay unnoticed and they are definitely a part of the history. We hope you can share our interest in these great men!
- Elise: Nikola Tesla
I have a big passion for science and I can be really amazed by discoveries people make. Sometimes this is one big discovery, other times people make discovery after discovery. An example of this last case is Nikola Tesla. Yes, Tesla, the electric car brand was named after this man and there is a good reason for this. Tesla was an electrical engineer and physicist and was (i.a.) the inventor of alternating current, the first hydroelectric station, experienced as one of the first with X-ray and worked together with Thomas Edison. Now, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about these inventions, so I’m not even gonna try to explain them to you. What I find interesting about Nikola Tesla is the way he is described as almost a mythical creature. He was not a very good businessman, since he didn’t make a lot of money with his inventions, but still he played such a big part in our history. To me, this sounds like (and yes I know, this is me romanticizing) a understood what was important in life.
- Inessa: Darwin
It was hard to choose a favorite scientist as frankly I had never thought about it before we came up with this topic. However, after spending several years extensively studying biology, I can say that Charles Darwin definitely deserves attention. By developing his famous evolutionary theory, Darwin blessed the world with a nicely structured idea about species evolution, and also supported it by numerous naturalistic observations. Yes, of course, by today’s standards we would demand something more than just observation, but Darwin’s determination and thorough work still cannot be dismissed. Many people accepted his theory, and his ideas inspired other researchers to propose modern accounts based on it, but yet it is not an axiom and debate is still on. Will we ever know for sure where did humans come from? Well, no matter if Darwin was right or wrong, before accepting or bashing his views, one should first familiarize themselves with the theory. Personally for me, evolutionary theory does make a lot of sense and until now I have not heard a better scientific explanation (but a lot of fascinating cultural ones).
P.S. In addition to his contributions to science, a sad, but at the same time funny, award has been named after Darwin, and it perfectly captures a process of natural selection.
- Laisvyda: Da Vinci
I’m probably not the best person to talk about random scientists, so for now I tried to choose someone that would be not as scientific but still had the title in front of his name.. Here are some interesting and unexpected facts about Da Vinci:
- He could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time;
- He was the first to explain why the sky is blue;
- Contact lenses were first proposed by him in 1508;
- He used to buy caged animals just to set them free!
- Da Vinci designed an armored car, a pile driver, a pulley, a lagoon dredge and a flying ship. There is no evidence that these things were tried to be built back then, but in 2003 the attempt was made and most of these were found to be impractical inventions…
- DiCaprio’s name is Leonardo because his mom was standing in front of Da vinci’s portrait when he first kicked!
And that’s what Leonardo Da Vinci said just before he passed away: ‘I have offended God and mankind. My work did not reach the quality it should have.’
- Lena: Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is one of the few scientists that really got my interest. Not just because of the important scientific views he had, but especially because of his personal life. This man has been sick for years, but the doctors keep him alive because he is such an important man. Isn’t it awesome when you are so important that you are worth thousand of dollars? But besides his illness (I think you probably all know he has ALS), he has done some awesome discoveries about black holes in space. That subject also draws my attention, and to be honest: I wouldn’t even dare to try to think about all the stuff going on in space. It is so mysterious, dangerous and it freaks me out sometimes to think about how big space is and so on. I will not even try to explain what Stephen Hawking discovered, but I highly recommend you to see the movie about Stephen Hawking! It’s a romanticized story but you get to see how his life was and how he discovered the things about black holes. It’s an amazing film, you really should watch it sometimes!
- Mijntje: Alan Turing
When we decided on the topic of favorite scientists for the next Credo’s special I immediately thought about Alan Turing. This is probably because I’m currently working on my bachelor thesis and my subject revolves about artificial intelligence. But apart from this he’s probably one of the most interesting and tragic great scientists.
Alan Turing showed signs of genius from an early age and proved to be especially gifted on the more exact sciences. Later in life he became a computer scientist and a mathematician and is regarded to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. He’s best known for playing a crucial role in cracking the Enigma code: the secret code used by the Nazis in World War II. This helped the UK considerably by giving the government crucial information about big upcoming events planned by Nazi Germany.
A fun-fact is that he almost qualified for the 1948 British Olympic Team as a long-distance runner, but failed due to an injury.
Turing eventually died in 1954, aged 41, presumable due to suicide. This was two years after he was charged for ‘gross indecency’ because of his homosexuality, which was still a crime during that time. He was forced to undergo hormonal treatment to reduce his libido and was put under probation. The British government eventually apologized for this horrible prosecution in 2009.
If you’d like to learn more about Turing’s I’d suggest watching the movie The Imitation Game, though it is a bit over dramatized it still gives a good impression of his life.
- Olivia: Timothy Berners-Lee
Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist best known for the invention of the World Wide Web; an invention that has changed all our lives! He has worked as an independent contracter at CERN in Geneva where he built a prototype based on the concept of hypertext to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. In 1989, CERN was the largest Internet node in Europe, and Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet; and in 1991 CERN was online for the first time! If your interested to seeing the first ever webpage go to: info.cern.ch and have a look around.
Since his world changing creation Berners-Lee has worked on many projects. In June 2009 he began working with the British Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force. Berners-Lee is one of the pioneer voices in favor of net neutrality and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply “connectivity with no strings attached,” and should neither control nor monitor the browsing activities of customers without their expressed consent!
Berners-Lee has also received many awards the coolest of which was that in 2004 he was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth for ‘services to the global development of the internet’ (for which we are all grateful). He has also had a minor planet named after him: 13926 Berners-Lee (very creative name). Finally, the final cherry on top of the cake, as you can see above, he was part of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony!
- Pooja: Nicolas Steno
The reason for writing about Nicolas Steno is because most people never heard of him, yet he can be seen as one of the most groundbreaking scientists in history. Within the field of Geology he did great things, which actually spilled over to other fields as well. Steno or Niels Stensen, was a Danish scientist who lived from January 1st 1638 to November 1686. His childhood wasn’t easy as he lost some school friends who suffered from plague. However he managed to survive and became an anatomist. His career started by dissecting corpses of dead animals and analyzing their internal organs. He discovered a passage in those animal skulls that’s responsible for transporting saliva to the mouth. Another remarkable discovery he did, is that not only humans have a pineal gland. This finding proved Descartes idea wrong about the pineal gland being the seat of the soul. Some say this was the beginning of neurosciences.
A Grand duke wanted Steno to dissect a shark, he then discovered that tong stones were actually shark stones which after *explain theory* led him to the conclusion of the earth being build up in layers. The older the deeper the layer. This formed the basis for stratification.
Eventually he dedicated his life to Christianity and became in bishop in the North of Germany as he was convinced that religion and science could never be united.
If you missed the previous article of this series, here’s the link.