Thursday, December 11, 2008


Seeing as how well last week's Newton blog went down with everybody, here's another science based one.

Isaac Newton 1643-1727

Why he was a genius:
When he was a student he became frustrated by the limitations of mathematics so set about inventing calculus. He invented calculus... Later he laid the foundations for spectroscopy, proposed the four laws for scientific reasoning, then proceeded to describe gravity in his spare time (the apple did not hit him on the head btw) thus making sense of the way the universe works and the relationships between every physical entity. From artillery shell trajectory to the tides of the sea his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica explained everything and instantly became, and remains to this day, regarded as the most important scientific work ever. Without him, modern engineering would most likely be...well your car would probably only have one BHP - because it would be a horse.

Ah, but:
Newton would often be found immobile in his bed having forgotten to get out as he was too busy having "thoughts". Granted I could also be said to suffer from this malady although Newton was unravelling the secrets of the universe and I'm more likely to be thinking about f#cking your mum. I won't be immobile either. And to be honest it was probably safer for him to keep horizontal, once out and about he displayed a curiosity bordering on suicidal. He once stuck a large needle "betwixt my eye and the bone as near to the back side of my eye as I could" and on another occasion he stared at the sun for "as long as I could bear." The stated scientific explanation for these experiments was "too see what would happen." Newton also managed to fit his world shaping discoveries in around his real passions, which were trying to turn lead into gold and writing long treatises on the loony religious sects he was a member of. He was also famously aloof and capricious; although he developed calculus his didn't bother to share it with anyone for 30 years because he intensely disliked "intellectual matters" and went into a major strop when someone disputed his interpretation of the inverse square law, and promptly refused to release the final volume of his Principia until everyone agreed that he was undeniably right and that the other guy was a wank. During 4 years of being in the British parliament the only recorded thing he said was that there was a draft and could someone close the window. Genius? Yes. Mental egomaniac masochist? F#ck aye.

Henry Cavendish 1731 - 1810

Why he was a genius:
Cavendish was probably the most gifted scientist of his day, most famously measuring the weight of the Earth with uncanny accuracy despite working with equipment which consisted of a needle tied to the end of some string. A small needle. His experiments with electricity were decades if not a century ahead of their time, he did the groundwork for the discovery of the "noble gases" (the last of which wasn't discovered until 1962), predicted, described or discovered...deep breath...Ohm's Law, Dalton's Law of Partial Pressure, Richter's Law of Reciprocal Motion, the principals of electronic conductivity, Charles Law of Gases and quite probably much, much more.

Ah, but:
The reason all those laws that were just listed aren't called the Cavendish Law of whatever is because he suffered from "shyness to a degree bordering on disease." So bad, in fact, he didn't bother mentioning any of these discoveries to anyone. He had secret staircases added to his home so as to avoid his housekeeper because being in the company of a woman caused him "extreme distress". She communicated with him by letter. An admirer arrived at his door and caught him by surprise, the unwelcome visitor was able to heap one sentence worth of praise and exultation on to the great man before Cavendish let out a strangled scream and fled into some nearby woods to hide. It was several hours before he could be coaxed back to his home. The rare times he ventured out in to society people were advised "to speak as if it were into a vacancy, do not look directly in his eyes nor address him by name". Despite his work having the potential to advance human knowledge by over a hundred years in some fields, he was usually too busy hiding under tables when the milkman came round. It could be said that he was the first true nerd. But to do so would do him a disservice, he was a bona fide genius with crippling social anxiety. Knowing HTML and having a level 80 WOW character isn't in the same league you unwashed virgin pricks.

Carl Linnaeus 1707 - 1778

Why he was a genius:
Describing the multitude of species before Linnaeus developed his system of binomial nomenclature was, in short, a f#cking nightmare. The same species of plant or cat or bacteria could have up to 30 different names due to the variety of competing naming conventions. Some of these conventions would result in animals being categorised by how noble they looked or how nice they were to eat...seriously. By reducing names down to genus and species he simplified taxonomy and allowed a far better understanding of the natural world than could previously be imagined. He also had an uncanny knack for arranging species correctly despite Darwin's opus being over 100 years away. He correctly indentified whales and cows as belonging to the same family for example.

Ah, but:
Scientists at the time were hopeful that the new system of classification would eliminate the crude terms popular among the commoners at the time for fauna, such as Mare's Fart, Open Arse and Bum-Towel. Unfortunately Linnaeus was a raging pervert. He was particularly keen on naming flowers and clams after ladies genitals. He was apparently struck by their he duly named some clams as Vulva, Labia, Anus, Hymen and Pubes and flowers got labelled with "Promiscuous Intercourse", "Barren Concubines", and "Parted Legs". It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to surmise that he at least masturbated into a Venus Fly trap at some point. At least masturbated...When it came to classifying animals he made room for Dragons (probably naming them "Flying Fire-Breathing Tw#t Lips) yetis, four-footed humanlike things, and whatever other crazy sh#t he heard while he was trying to nail a sexy looking geranium. He also lacked any form of modesty; he frequently described his work as "the greatest achievement in the realm of science" and demanded that his tombstone should read "Prince of Botanists". It doesn't. But it is frequently covered in fresh flowers.

Original here

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