This page was split off from BumblebeeSociety
, where the list first appeared. Its purpose then was as part of an argument against drugs like Ritalin. Its focus has changed.
Some of the people listed below might not belong here, for two reasons. Firstly, their achievements might not have been great enough. Secondly, their great achievements might not indicate genius. Perhaps there should be a list of WorldContributors?
, to include people who changed the course of history whether or not they were geniuses.
Perhaps also to be truthful we should indicate are attributed with personally making the discovery that changed the course of history.
[ long list of things from prehistory that weren't "invented" in the usual sense moved to bottom of page; nobody "invented" fire, for instance, and the needle was part of a gradual evolution of tools over thousands of years (there is an obvious discontinuity between cutting and puncturing, hence the invention), etc. Things should only be at the top of the page if there's a person's name to go with them. ]
Tool use and tool evolution is literally millions of years old.
Political, social and economic innovators and activists
Biologists and medics
- The inventor of the wheel
- The inventor of paper
- The inventor of woven cloth
- The inventor of the windmill
- The inventor of the horse collar
- The "inventor" of England's Agricultural Revolution - JethroTull
- The inventor of MovableType - JohannesGutenberg (movable type was invented in China 400 years before Gutenberg, but Gutenberg's invention was apparently independent and probably more influential. Actually, it was in Korea, which makes sense: movable type's not much of an edge unless you have an alphabet.) (It was in Korea, but your rationale is incorrect. Koreans invented movable type in the 11th century; at the time there was no Korean written language, alphabetic or otherwise. Documents were written (or printed) in Chinese. Han'gul (the Korean phonetic writing system) was not invented until the 15th century.)
- ThomasEdison (most significantly the inventor of the research lab)
- Joseph Whitworth 1804-1887, Engineer and inventor. As the inventor of the standardised nut and bolt, he could be considered to be the Inventor of Modern Engineering (One might consider what the Egyptians were doing before 1000 BC and the Romans later on were doing to be "Engineering") The Library at Alexandria most certainly contained "Engineering Documents").
- DmitriMendeleev? - inventor of the periodic table and Vodka
- who cares about the periodic table, but for Vodka he definitely needs to be on this list.
- Actually Mendeleev is credited for the scientifical justification of the optimal ratio of alcohol of 40%(80 proof) used in Russian vodka.
- MichaelFaraday? also a physicist
- AntoineLavoisier (founder of quantitative chemistry)
People in more than one category
Some Computer Geniuses
- IsaacNewton (belongs under Mathematicians too - Newton clearly invented the calculus as a tool for physics, rather than as a method for solving general problems; it's obvious from the fact that all derivatives are implicitly with respect to time.) Of course, it is *not* clear that he actually invented calculus (Liebnitz at least duplicated the work, in several ways superior). However, Newton would deserve a place for other things.'' (Or what? He stole calculus from Leibnitz? Come on, nobody seriously believes that. The idea that an invention is a unique event specifically tailored to the vagaries of the patent system is preposterous.) It is less obvious that Newton invented the calculus as a physicist and Liebnitz as a mathematician. Newton made observations that were implicitly ordered by the passing of time, so his differentials use time implicitly. Leibnitz was a mathematician seeking to invent a tool of mathematics, therefore his notation assumed a generalized notation.
- He didn't invent anything, just reimplemented existing stuff
- Not to debate if Linus is a genius or not, but isn't the ... just reimplemeted existing stuff ... true for almost anyone on this or any other list of geniuses?
- Same here. He would fit in a category for hoarding cash, though.
- In light of his coming separation from MicroSoft to concentrate on giving his fortune away, hoarding may not be a fit description of what he is doing with cash.
If you think someone in the list above is badly misplaced, move them here and, if you like, explain why you don't think they belong. If you think someone here should be in the list above, explain why.
I would put the whole list here. My entries are the obvious ones under philosophers. If you find my thoughts offensive to the spirit of this page, go ahead and argue by deletion. I promise not to cry. The legion of people without scientific knowledge but with the wisdom to back Marie Curie with blood and sweat, are the real enabling candidates for a page list like this, Without them, a genius is a waste of space.
These physicists are not of the same order as the above
- YogiBerra RestatementSpecialist?
- Pragmatist BillGates Marketing genius perhaps
- SteveWozniak for being an ethically-minded pragmatic nerd
- John Lennon and/or Paul McCartney... Putting these two in the company of Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky is just laughable. 'To you.' To anyone with a modicum of musical knowledge. Of course, all of these categorizations are broken anyway, and the "musician" label is being used more as a "composer" label, but...
Not a genius mathematician
- StephenHawking (and he's still alive! so he'll get stupider in his old age? Or maybe we only idolize corpses?)
- MurrayGellMann? (the Quark, Complexity Theory - he's still alive, too)
Oh please... -- HowardFear
- BenjaminFranklin - Late to adopt the revolution, largely ineffective as ambassador, and no voice at all in the deliberations in which he participated. Might be the inventor of self-promotion.
- AynRand - has about as much in common with philosophy as JackieCollins? has with literature.
- ThomasJefferson (not miscategorized) - great writer but not a particularly interesting political philosopher. Try Locke instead. Or, for Americans, JamesMadison?.
- NoamChomsky (philosophy, linguistics) - rofl
- KarlMarx (the science of economics) (Saying KarlMarx made a science of Economics is like saying that ElvisPresley invented RocknRoll?. Marx was better at promoting himself than coming up with workable and testable theories. Try AdamSmith for the first theories, or AdolpheQuetelet for the math...)(also see CharlesBabbage for his theories on social responsibility)
- MahatmaGandhi (aka MohandasGandhi; "Mahatma" means "Great Soul" and is a title rather than a name) Since when is nationalism a sign of a genius? Is there any early example of someone who demonstrated non-violent resistance, and it actually worked ? Well I added Jesus Christ up above (on this page I mean) in political and social innovators and activists. I know that view of him is not seen as much but that is what he was doing. -- C.P.
- JrrTolkien I know what you mean, god he sucked and his son was worse. 'The eagles are here! Oh glorry and rasberries the eagles are here!' blech.
- CsLewis (or was he put here for his researches into English literature or for his writing?) Well, he did a lot to make theology understandable to the layperson but I wouldn't count him in this list.
- WardCunningham, of course :-)
- JamesWatson? and FrancisCrick? and Rosalind Franklin nothing special here. they were first and rightly get the credit, but that doesn't mean they were good. put another way, if they hadn't figured it out, someone else would have in short order
- You could say the same thing about sports races, such as are going on right now in the 2004 Olympics, and yet strangely enough, in every race someone gets the credit for being first, even though a bunch of other people got to the same spot moments later. Go figure.
- yes, but they aren't called "world geniuses". which is the longer list, "world geniuses" or "Olympic gold medal winners"?
- Oh, I see. Well, is there evidence either for or against the notion that perhaps they were all geniuses? I mean, I don't think it is exactly trivial to reconstruct a 3D molecular shape based on the diffraction pattern its crystal makes, but maybe I'm wrong, and any average grad student of the day could have done it?
- If you're talking about using Fourier transforms to solve the crystal structure from a diffraction pattern, that's not what Watson and Crick did. The key data from Franklin's diffraction pattern was that it was (broadly speaking) X-shaped. It was reasonably well known that this pattern corresponded to a helix. Once they knew the overall structure was a helix, and that the GA content was always equal to the CT content (known for a long time beforehand) along with some other chemical data on DNA that was available, building a model wasn't that difficult. They didn't need Franklin's actual data, just to see the picture of the diffraction pattern. [interesting web site on helical diffraction data at http://www.mpimf-heidelberg.mpg.de/~holmes/fibre/branden.html ] Crick could have been a genius. Watson is not that impressive at all when you hear him speak, more of an ego-freak than anything else. Oh ok, put them back on the full list if you want.
- very cool link, thanks!
I felt there was so much to say about this list that I took the liberty of moving the discussion section of the original page to WorldGeniusesDiscussion
. -- DaveEveritt
This seems to be mostly WesternGeniuses?. Broadening the list to other cultures might make it more of a challenge... Maybe, too, "genius" is a quintessentially Western label.
I'd agree with that. The concept itself may even highlight a flaw in Western thinking.
The flaw is thinking via the "use of labels", or thinking we can classify or label characteristics of achievement?, or something else - I'd like for you to elaborate on the flaw you refer to in "western thinking".
[ Moved from top of page, because although they are undeniably important, still these things were not invented by a single person, quite aside from "lost in the mists of time". ]
Innovators probably lost in the mists of time
- The first stone tool maker there's really no-one to challenge this person for significance, but, here goes...
- The inventor of spoken language, didn't have an inventor in any meaningful sense of the word (yes, an invention without an inventor)
- The inventor of written language (credited to Thoth (heiroglyphics), Prometheus (?) (Greek alphabet), Ogma Sun-Face (Ogham), Odin (runes), and other gods; is Sequoya (Cherokee) the only human ?)
- The first to use/control fire
- The first musician some would place this first
- The first person to plant seeds in the ground instead of eating them (I think this actually beats the stone tool maker) Probably not, as hunting predates farming. True, but best evidence suggests pre-agrarian societies were primarily gatherers, not hunters, contrary to the cartoon representations we give our kids. Of course, stone tools were not merely hunting tools by any stretch of the imagination. It is entirely possible that the first stone tools were not. Evidence also suggests that people discovered things growing where they shit.
- The inventor of string (and other cordage)
- The first knot maker
- The first cook
- The first axe maker
- The inventor of the needle
- The inventor of the bag
- The discoverer of hemp
- Originator of clay and ceramic pottery
- Originator of kiln-fired pottery
- Originator of wheel-thrown pottery
- The inventor of the pocket (I hear that pockets on clothes are really a post-Middle-Ages invention ?)
- The inventor of the button
- The first domesticator of the dog (see SpringPicnic), which would be a dog since wolves domesticated themselves; natural selection evolving a wolf subspecies to fit the human trash niche.
- The inventor of hay <- inventor? Hay is grass stalks processed by air drying, providing year-round fodder for stock, especially an urban draught-horse population
- The first domesticator of grass (Modern wheat arose due to three distinct mutations, bing bing bing, not any sort of continuous process. These three mutations were genuinely freak events, completely unpredictable and impossible to anticipate. IOW, wheat domesticated itself.)
- The first domesticator of horses
- The inventor of beer <- Enkidu (babylonian god)
- The inventor of the hearth
- The inventor of the chimney
- The inventor of wine Dionysus
- The inventor of bread
Can a single person really be credited with such momentous innovations? Has no-one heard of the HundredthMonkeySyndrome
(even if it was the result of sloppy research?)
The sail appears to have been reinvented in many places in many times, mostly in pre-history.
The screw began as a water wheel/pump, actually, before it was used as a fastener, and all three can be lumped together with Hero of Alexandria circa 100 A.D...except that he wasn't truly the first (except for the steam engine, which perhaps he did outright invent). Hmm, this is interesting along these lines: http://www.greece.gr/ENVIRONMENT/ScienceAndTechnology/ancientyetsomodern.stm
- The inventor of the pump
- The inventor of the water wheel
- The inventor of the sail
- The inventor of the screw Wasn't that ArchimedesOfSyracuse?
- If I recall correctly Archimedes invented application of a screw for the purpose of pumping water, but not the actual screw itself.
See also WikiGreatFoobarLists
Actually, I'm starting to think this should go into CategoryJoke