35 Unknown Facts about Scientists – Part 2

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1 Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Alan Turing once bought 150lbs of silver but didn’t trust banks so he buried it in the woods instead. After the price of silver had almost doubled, he went to dig it up, but could no longer find it.

2. Max Planck’s life was filled with tragedy. His wife died early, his oldest son died in World War 1, his two twin daughters both died while giving birth, and lastly, his second son was executed by Nazi Germany because of his participation in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.

3. Heinrich Hertz, upon proving the existence of radio waves, stated that “It’s of no use whatsoever.” When asked about the applications of his discovery, he said, “Nothing, I guess.”

4. Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell his telephone patent to Western Union for $100,000 in 1876. The committee appointed to investigate the offer concluded the telephone was “hardly more than a toy” and “inherently of no use to us.”

5. There was a rumor that Stephen Hawking would deliberately run over the toes of people he didn’t like. He denied this rumor by stating it was “A Malicious rumor” and “I’ll run over anyone who repeats it.”

6 James Watson

James Watson

Famed molecular biologist James Watson put his Nobel Prize up for auction in 2014 due to financial hardships. It sold for $4.1 million and was promptly returned to him by the buyer.

7. Michael Faraday, one of the foremost experimenters of his time, declined a knighthood, believing that it was against the word of the Bible to pursue worldly reward. He stated that he preferred to remain “plain Mr. Faraday to the end.”

8. J.C. Maxwell, the inventor of color photography and founder of the theory of electromagnetism, killed a lot of cats by throwing them out of windows to find the precise height from where the cat couldn’t land on its feet anymore.

9. Famous chemist and lifelong bachelor Robert Bunsen once proposed to a girl who said yes, but he then lost himself in his work for a few weeks. When he finally emerged from his lab, he couldn’t remember if he ever proposed or not, so he did it again, only to have her turn him down.

10. Charles Darwin ate every animal he ever discovered. He sought out “birds and beasts which were unknown to the human palate.”

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11 Emilie du Châtelet

Emilie du Châtelet

Emilie du Châtelet was a female scientist who in 1749 feared that bearing a child at the age of 42 would be the last thing she did. She worked furiously on a magnum opus that would eventually change the world of physics. Within days of completing her work, she gave birth to a daughter and died soon after.

12. As a teenager, Neil Degrasse Tyson walked people’s dogs and earned 50 cents per dog, per walk, two or three times a day. He saved up $200 and bought his first serious telescope at the age of 14.

13. Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the odor of farts smell good so that farting in public will become socially acceptable. He wanted flatulence to be “as agreeable as perfumes.”

14. Rosalind Franklin is the unsung hero of DNA research. Her X-ray Crystallography allowed her colleagues Watson and Crick to accurately characterize the double helix. Many believe she should’ve shared in their Nobel prize.

15. Looking for publicity for his television, John Logie Baird went to the Daily Express to promote it. The editor was so terrified by his invention he said, “Get rid of a lunatic who’s down there. He says he’s got a machine for seeing by wireless! Watch him — he may have a razor on him.”

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16 Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was involved in a sex scandal when a newspaper published love letters between her and a former student of her deceased husband. Her lover later challenged the newspaper’s editors to a dual to defend Marie’s honor.

17. Stephen Hawking once dined in the company of Edward Teller, pioneer of the hydrogen bomb, and typed “He is Stupid” in his speech synthesizer without bothering to lower the volume.

18. Robert Hooke, despite pioneering the experimental method and discovering many elements of gravitational theory first, was almost entirely erased from history by Sir Isaac Newton because they did not like each other, and Newton lived 25 years longer, allowing him to edit history to his favor.

19. Anders Celsius originally created the temperature scale with 100 degrees as freezing and 0 degrees as boiling. Carl Linnaeus, another scientist, waited until he died to change the scale to what it is today.

20. Benjamin Franklin used chess as a means of learning Italian. He would play games with a friend who was also studying the language. The winner of their match assigned a task to the loser; such as making them learn some Italian grammar, which had to be performed before their next match.

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21 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was voluntarily chaste, despite numerous women “vying for his affections… some even madly in love with him”, because he believed sex inhibited his abilities to think in a scientific manner.

22. Isaac Newton once tried looking at the sun in a mirror, essentially blinding himself for 3 days and experiencing afterimages for months.

23. Thomas Edison abandoned his research into x-rays when he damaged his eyesight, and his assistant had his arms amputated from repeated exposure. “Don’t talk to me about X-rays,” he said. “I am afraid of them.”

24. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule and Nobel prize laureate, sent a letter accompanied by a cheque for 10 guineas to Winston Churchill, saying that the money should be used for the establishment of a brothel at the Cambridge University, instead of a chapel.

25. Charles Darwin married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood, before having 10 children, three of which died before the age of 11. This lead him to wonder whether close genetic matches had an impact on health, adding to his theory of evolution and the passing of traits to offspring.

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