Nautilus

Top Ten Unsung Geniuses

It’s easy to name science and math geniuses. I can just flip open my old book from the 1960s, which lists “100 Great Scientists”; it contains all the names you’d find on most popular lists of scientific geniuses: Einstein, Newton, Maxwell, Gauss, Bohr, Archimedes, Darwin, Galileo, and 92 others.

But the geniuses of popular notoriety aren’t the only great minds of scientific history. That book and other such lists overlook many deserving names—the unsung geniuses overshadowed by more publicity-savvy rivals or under-appreciated because of when and where they lived. Presented below are my Top 10 of those insufficiently recognized scientific geniuses of all time, listed in chronological order.

Keep in mind that this is science and math only, so no Shakespeare, no Bobby Fischer, no Lennon and McCartney. Also, nobody still living is eligible—wouldn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.

And remember, for list-making purposes, genius shouldn

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus9 min read
Metaphors Are Us: War, murder, music, art. We would have none without metaphor.
The other day I fixed something—a rarity for me. The flotation device in the toilet water tank was rubbing against the side, getting stuck halfway up so that the tank didn’t fill completely. I own a hammer and know how to operate it. But I couldn’t f
Nautilus15 min read
How American Tycoons Created the Dinosaur: The story of dinosaurs is also the story of capitalism.
The dinosaur is a chimera. Some parts of this complex assemblage are the result of biological evolution. But others are products of human ingenuity, constructed by artists, scientists, and technicians in a laborious process that stretches from the di
Nautilus14 min read
The Strange Persistence of First Languages: After my father died, my journey of rediscovery began with the Czech language.
Several years ago, my father died as he had done most things throughout his life: without preparation and without consulting anyone. He simply went to bed one night, yielded his brain to a monstrous blood clot, and was found the next morning lying am