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Author Topic: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists  (Read 27755 times)

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Offline Tripe

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2012, 05:46:06 AM »
Interesting side note about Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine: There actually were programs written for it. Primarily By Ada Lovelace, after which the Ada programming language (designed, and still used, by the US DoD) is named. She's often referred to as the first computer programmer. I considered adding her, but felt that was a bit too obscure.
Unfortunate.


Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2012, 08:21:26 AM »
38 (tie)


Buckaroo Banzai

35 points - 2 lists - Highest Position: 6 (ScottotD)

Portrayed By: Peter Weller (film)

Short Biography

Buckaroo Banzai is the lead character in the film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He is a top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero, and probably the last hope of the human race. Dissatisfied with a life devoted exclusively to medicine, Buckaroo Banzai perfected a wide range of skills. He designed and drove high-powered automobiles. He studied bujutsu and particle physics. He spoke a dozen languages and wrote songs in all of them. His band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, was one of the most popular, hard-rocking bar bands in east New Jersey, though its members were not professional musicians at all, but rather cartographers and botanists, linguists and propellant engineers, an entomologist and an epidemiologist.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/0gNJ1z-ulB4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/0gNJ1z-ulB4</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jv_jkju_iZg" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/jv_jkju_iZg</a>


Up Next: This scientist rules his own country.
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2012, 08:21:47 AM »
38 (tie)


Doctor Doom

35 points - 2 lists - Highest Position: 5 (Johnny Unusual)

Portrayed By: Julian McMahon (film)

Short Biography

Victor von Doom is a fictional character that appears in the Marvel Universe. Jack Kirby modeled Doom after Death, with the armor standing in for that character's skeleton. His trademark green cloak and metal armour are worn due to an accident he had while constructing a machine intended for use in speaking to the dead. Doom is the arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four, but frequently battle Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Avengers, the X-Men, and others.


Major Discoveries

Throughout most of his publication history, he has been depicted as one of the most intelligent humans in the Marvel Universe. This is shown on many occasions, most famously by actually curing Ben Grimm of his Thing form, which Reed Richards has never repeated. Doom has constructed numerous devices in order to defeat his foes or gain more power, including a time machine, a device to imbue people with superpowers, and numerous robots; Doom's calculating and strategic nature leads him to use "Doombots," exact mechanical replicas of the real Doctor Doom, for many missions, typically those where he fears defeat. The character has also used his scientific talents to steal or replicate the power of other beings such as the Silver Surfer, or in one case the entity Galactus' world-ship.




Up Next: Jackie O's second husband, or, y'know, not.
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2012, 08:22:14 AM »
37


Aristotle

37 points - 4 lists - Highest Position: 10 (anais.butterfly)

Short Biography

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, physicist, mathematician, and biologist. He was a student of Plato (inventor of the plate) and teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon. During that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings: Ptolemy and Cassander.


Major Discovery

Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. Aristotle's writings on science are largely qualitative, as opposed to quantitative. He added a fifth element (aether) to the classical four (earth, wind, fire, and water), through which he thought the heavenly bodies moved. It was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that it was shown that there was no aether. Aristotle also wrote an influential series of lectures on natural philosophy called Physics.


Up Next: The next entry exists in a linear superposition of being on the list and of not being on the list.
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2012, 08:22:39 AM »
34 (tie)


Erwin Schrödinger

39 points - 2 lists - Highest Position: 1 (anais.butterfly)

Short Biography

Scrödinger was an Austrian-born physicist, and one of the founders of quantum mechanics. In 1914 Erwin Schrödinger achieved habilitation (an even higher qualification than a PhD). Between 1914 and 1918 he participated in war work as a commissioned officer in the Austrian fortress artillery. In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazis' anti-semitism. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize together with Paul Dirac. His position at Oxford did not work out; his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women) was not met with acceptance. In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University; he was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have posed a problem.


Major Discovery

Schrödinger's most significant contribution was the development of the Schrödinger equation, which describes the time-evolution of quantum mechanical systems. This equation shows how the Hamiltonian acting on a quantum mechanical state will return the energy of that state. The paper in which he published these findings is (rightfully) regarded as one of the most important papers of the twentieth century. It is for this discovery that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. However, he is best-known to the general public as the originator of Schrödinger's cat, a thought experiment designed to show the absurdity of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. In the thought experiment, a cat is placed in a sealed box, along with a sample of radioactive material, a geiger counter hooked up to a small hammer, and a vial of poison. When the radioactive material decays, the geiger counter will trigger the hammer, smashing the vial, thus poisoning the cat. Unfortunately, due to the statistical nature of radioactive decay, we cannot know when the cat will die. Therefore, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, we must say that the cat exists in both states (alive and dead) at the same time. Of course, this ignores the third possible state: bloody furious.

Edit: On a personal note, my third-year quantum mechanics professor was trying to teach us about the meaning of different operators in Schrödinger's equation and, without realizing, came out with a great one-liner. As some context, the momentum operator is labelled by the letter p, and the wave-function by the greek letter psi.
"When we act on the wave function with p, we get a measure of how much p-ness there is in psi."
He didn't notice anything until the next day, when we'd printed up a sign with the quote on it and hung it at the front of the class.


Up Next: Where do you get those wonderful toys?
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 08:34:21 AM by goflyblind »
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2012, 08:23:06 AM »
34 (tie)


Q

39 points - 3 lists - Highest Position: 9 (Cole Stratton)

Portrayed By: Peter Burton (film), Desmond Llewelyn (film), Geoffrey Bayldon (film), Alec McCowen (film), John Cleese (film), Ben Whishaw (film)

Short Biography

Q is a fictional character in the James Bond novels and films. Q (standing for Quartermaster), like M, is a job title rather than a name. He is the head of Q Branch (or later Q Division), the fictional research and development division of the British Secret Service. We know little about Q other than his opinions towards Bond. However, one line of dialogue in Diamonds Are Forever indicated that he does have children and he uses his technical expertise in order to amuse them. Although primarily seen in his workshop, Q has often ventured out of Britain, normally to deliver some equipment to Bond. He occasionally operates undercover; in particular in Tomorrow Never Dies he poses as a car hire agent.


Major Discovery

Q supplies Bond with all of his gadgets including:
 - a trick briefcase in From Russia with Love
 - an Aston Martin car with the ejector seat in Goldfinger
 - an autogyro 'Little Nellie' in You Only Live Twice
 - a submersible Lotus car ('Wet Nellie') in The Spy Who Loved Me
 - an AcroStar mini-jet in Octopussy
 - a pen grenade in GoldenEye
 - a remote control BMW 7 Series in Tomorrow Never Dies
 - a camouflaged Aston Martin in Die Another Day


Up Next: The nose knows. Also, it's a somewhat longer entry, being my number one and all. :P
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2012, 08:26:29 AM »
34 (tie)


Tycho Brahe

39 points - 3 lists - Highest Position: 1 (goflyblind)

Short Biography

Tycho was a Danish astronomer in the sixteenth century, and had one of the most exciting and bizarre lives ever. As a toddler, he was kidnapped by his uncle. He was raised by his uncle, mostly because his parents didn't care enough to retrieve him. At the age of twenty, he lost most of his nose in a duel. He had false noses made, reputedly of gold and silver, but likely containing copper as well. He earned the patronage of the king of Denmark when Tycho's uncle saved the king from drowning (although the uncle subsequently died of pneumonia). Tycho owned a pet moose, and kept a dwarf (whom he thought was a clairvoyant) at his home to entertain guests. Tycho had a lifelong interest in alchemy, which may have led to his death by mercury poisoning (though some think he may have been deliberately poisoned). This is a more recent supposition, based on samples of moustache hair from his exhumed corpse. The usual story of his death involves a dinner party where he felt it would be impolite to leave the table to pee, and as a result his bladder or kidney ruptured. He was paranoid that someone would steal his data, and so would not allow his assistants to see all of it. Turns out, that paranoia paid off, as after his death Johannes Kepler stole as much as he could carry, did some calculations, and became famous as a result.


Major Discoveries

Tycho's most significant contribution to science is the idea of repeated, regular, and recorded observations, particularly in astronomy. Before him, astronomical observations were done haphazardly. In particular, the astronomical tables that predicted positions of planets, stars, eclipses, and so on, were horribly inaccurate. To remedy this situation, he decided to undertake systematic observations of the night sky. His first chance to do so (in impressive fashion, no less), came when he was walking home, drunk, from the pub. He observed a new star in the sky. Over the ensuing weeks, he made detailed observations of the star, and found that it displayed no parallax (apparent motion against the backdrop of the stars) and determined that it must be further distant than the moon.



Later, on the island of Hven, he established what may have been the world's first research institution. It included two observatories with many new or improved precise astronomical instruments, which allowed him to make even more and better observations. These observations allowed him to reject the Copernican model. Due to Copernicus' poor observation habits, his model contained wildly inaccurate assumptions and needless complications. Tycho then proposed his own model, based on the Ptolemaic model that had been in use for nearly two thousand years by that point. In it, the Earth was at the centre of the Universe being orbited by the moon and the sun, while the other planets orbited the sun. It allowed him to keep circular motion, geocentrism, while disposing of crystalline spheres and explaining retrograde motion--the apparent backwards motion of the planets. Unfortunately, his adherence to geocentrism and his paranoia about his observations being stolen kept him from truly following the data and discovering what Kepler would find decades later.


Up Next (Tomorrow): We can call the next entry "the reduced scientist" if we divide him by two pi.
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Russell

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2012, 04:48:10 PM »
It's Buckaroo Banzai... it's the latest issue!


Johnny Unusual

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #38 on: September 23, 2012, 04:58:24 PM »
Buckaroo Banzai is a movie I REALLY wanted to like, but I just found it too hard to get into and I found the main plot rather uninteresting.  That said, I like the character himself quite a bit, I just wish he was in a better movie for him and the Hong Kong Cavaliers.  Also, I want Peter Weller to be in more things.

Peter Weller update: Peter Weller will be in the next Star Trek movie (Tripe hopes as Trelaine, I'll bet) AND in this:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/oirGw9xeCHQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/oirGw9xeCHQ</a>

BTW, how perfect is that John Carpenter-style synth-soundtrack!


Russell

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #39 on: September 23, 2012, 05:17:43 PM »
I just hope William Birkin doesn't appear on this list. :P


Johnny Unusual

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2012, 07:54:26 PM »
Tycho Brahe is a good choice, but I didn't vote for him largely because I didn't know much about him beyond elements of his reputation for being pants-crapping insane.


Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2012, 02:24:43 PM »
33


Max Planck

40 points - 2 lists - Highest Position: 3 (CJones)

Short Biography

Max Planck was a German theoretical physicist. He achieved habilitation in 1880, and became an unpaid private lecturer in Munich, while working on thermodynamics. His greatest discovery came when he turned to the so-called UV catastrophe. He had been commissioned by electric companies to create maximum light from lightbulbs with minimum energy.


Major Discovery

Planck is the founder of quantum mechanics. He was looking to explain blackbody radiation (light that shines from a perfect emitter), and found that if the energy was emitted in discrete parts, he was able to properly predict the distribution of intensity. It cannot be overstated that this was a monumental discovery. Up until then, it was thought that the energy of a body was a continuous variable. However, Planck himself did not like the idea of discrete values for the energy of a body. He assumed this was some sort of gimmick, an act of desperation, and that a better explanation would come in time. He was wrong in this assumption, however, and his discovery stands at the centre of quantum theory.


Up Next: This next scientist really revs my (electric) engine.
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2012, 02:25:00 PM »
32


Michael Faraday

13 points - 4 lists - Highest Position: 7 (CJones)

Short Biography

Michael Faraday was an English physicist. Although Faraday received little formal education he was one of the most influential scientists in history, and historians of science refer to him as having been the best experimentalist in the history of science. He became strongly interested in science when he attended public lectures by Humphry Davy and John Tatum. During these lectures, he took notes, and bound the notes into a book. Faraday sent this book to Davy, gaining favour with the eminent chemist, who hired him as a secretary. On a lecture tour with Davy, Faraday was so mistreated by Davy's wife that he nearly gave up and went home alone. Thankfully for us, he did not, and was able to meet with the scientific elite of Europe.


Major Discovery

While he began as a chemist (in the American sense, not a pharmacist), Faraday's greatest works were in the field of experimental electromagnetism. However, he did make a few major discoveries in chemistry, such as benzene (which is the simplest petrochemical, and makes up most plastics and a common gasoline additive), the liquefaction of gasses, and even inventing an early form of a bunsen burner.

Faraday first foray into electromagnetism involved building a voltaic pile to decompose epsom salt into its constituents of magnesium, sulphur, and oxygen. On hearing of the discovery uniting electricity with magnetism by Ørsted, Faraday constructed his first electromagnetic motor. Sadly, in his excitement to publish the results, he forgot to acknowledge the work of his mentor, Davy, and as a result was given poor assignments by Davy. However, he continued in his work and discovered experimentally one of Maxwell's equations (called Faraday's law), which states that a changing magnetic field produces an electric field. Faraday also contributed to theoretical electromagnetism by describing electric and magnetic field as having lines of force. This allows physicists to visualize and map out these fields without having to set up complicated experiments to measure them. Finally, he also showed that charge lives on the outside of conductors, giving us the concept of Faraday cages.


Up Next: Who you gonna call? Our next scientist, maybe?
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2012, 02:25:22 PM »
30 (tie)


Peter Venkman

44 points - 2 lists - Highest Position: 3 (Cole Stratton)

Portrayed By: Bill Murray (film), Lorenzo Music (animated series), Dave Coulier (animated series)

Short Biography

Peter Venkman is a fictional character from the Ghostbusters franchise. He is a parapsychologist and member of the Ghostbusters. He holds PhDs in both parapsychology and psychology. Originally his professional interests were focused on paranormal phenomena like ESP; he appeared not to believe in ghosts until he actually saw one. In the movies, he is characterized by his flippant persona, his approach to his profession as a scientific charlatan, and his womanizing demeanor. Venkman serves as the front man for the group. He admitted that even his high school grad class voted him "Most Likely to Become A Game Show Host."

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/j2nYqyfDMnQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/j2nYqyfDMnQ</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/sEbSABWJiJc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/sEbSABWJiJc</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/roiRpwv9zFs" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/roiRpwv9zFs</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/G-b-CfHbPGQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/G-b-CfHbPGQ</a>


Up Next: The next scientist has, I think, the saddest eyes of anyone ever.
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Offline goflyblind

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Re: LoC #64: Top 52 Scientists
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2012, 02:25:46 PM »
30 (tie)


J. Robert Oppenheimer

44 points - 4 lists - Highest Position: 2 (anais.butterfly)

Short Biography

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist. Oppenheimer's greatest achievement was probably as the driving organizing force behind the Manhattan Project, the American effort in World War II to construct an atomic bomb. Sadly, as a convoluted result of this effort, he was persecuted by the American government, who stripped him of all security clearance and made it more difficult for him to do further research. Oppenheimer was seen by most of the scientific community as a martyr to McCarthyism, an intellectual and liberal who was unjustly attacked by warmongering enemies, symbolic of the shift of scientific creativity from academia into the military. Wernher von Braun summed up his opinion about the matter with a quip to a Congressional committee: "In England, Oppenheimer would have been knighted." However, Oppenheimer reacted bitterly to his portrayal a martyr. He said, "The whole damn thing was a farce, and these people are trying to make a tragedy out of it."


Major Discovery

While, arguably, his most important role was as the organizer of the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer contributed significant advances to the fields of astrophysics, general relativity, and quantum mechanics. Working with Tolman and Volkoff, they found an upper limit for the mass of a neutron star of roughly two solar masses, beyond which it must form a black hole (or, possibly, a strange star). Working with Born, they found a way of breaking up the quantum mechanical wave-functions of complicated molecules into electronic and nuclear parts, vastly simplifying the calculations. He also provided early work on cosmic ray showers that would lead to the general description of quantum tunnelling by Born. Further, with one of his doctoral students, he developed a process to artificially create radioactive isotopes by deuteron bombardment. Finally, with Snyder, Oppenheimer showed that the runaway gravitational collapse of a sufficiently massive star must occur when there is no more nuclear fuel, resulting in a black hole.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/l8w3Y-dskeg" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/l8w3Y-dskeg</a>


Up Next: "Yeah, like I'm gonna do science in the five thousand dollar robotic suit. Come on!"
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