Modern einsteins

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

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Antimony-120
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Antimony-120 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:19 pm UTC

MadRocketSci2 wrote:The other weird thing I've noticed about a lot of the "great names" in math and science history is that to a very large extent they weren't unknown to each other. If you look up the academic geneologies of the big names in mathematics back in the 1700s, a lot of them were doctoral advisors to each other, students of each other, went to alma-maters in the same country. It's almost as if getting a "critical mass" of them together and talking (and teaching each other - otherwise it doesn't sustain) tends to produce the revolutions we are interested in.


That would be an effect of there being very few of them in general. If you have only 50 people involved in a subject world-wide, the odds of any two of them knowing eachother are rather high.

Imagine all of science as taking place within one high school. You'd be somewhat surprised if the two brightest students DIDN'T know eachother.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby dg61 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:49 pm UTC

If we're talking about historical figures with debatable claims to being scientists, I'll nominate three men who were not scientists by any plausible measure(an architect, an artist, and a general renaissance man)-Filippo Brunelleschi, Massacio, and Leon Battista Alberti. They were some of the first western artists to apply mathematics to perspective. Now this may not seem to have much significance for science but the implications are truly staggering:
1. The visible world is governed by a rational order comprehensible to the human mind.
2. We can use mathematics to help us understand that order.
While it's true that technical advances can be made without those insights, the Western model of experimental science could not exist without said insights. Look at mechanical laws-once people were looking for them, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with them. But people had to be looking for them in the first place.
Come to think of it, perhaps we could have "non-scientists who made the biggest contributions to science" thread.

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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:32 am UTC

MadRocketSci2 wrote:It would seem, if you assume the probability of getting an "Einstein", or an Edison, ect for that matter, is proportional to the population we have, that there would be more Einstein-types alive today than there were in his era.

The most depressing thought I've had in months was watching Slumdog Millionaire, thinking that there were probably quite a few Einstein-level intellects in those slums.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Cobramaster » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:54 am UTC

Cheer up this day and age gives the poor genius, and I use both terms literally the best chance in history at being noticed and able to accomplish something great.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

Cobramaster wrote:Cheer up this day and age gives the poor genius, and I use both terms literally the best chance in history at being noticed and able to accomplish something great.

Oh, yeah, I'm generally pretty up on the modern world. I realize that. Still, it gave me a pretty big "man, that kinda sucks" feeling, even if it used to be worse.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Lycur » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:12 pm UTC

I'm surprised noone has yet mentioned John Bell. His theorems restricting the behaviour of so-called hidden variable models of Quantum Mechanics tell us something fundamental and astonishing about our universe as a whole; very much in the spirit of Einstein's best known work.

But honestly, noone in the modern age really compares to Einstein. That's not a criticism of modern scienctists so much as it's a statement about the sheer brilliance and productivity of Einstein.

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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Pineapple_Sorbet » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:43 am UTC

Well, I think it's a little unfair to say that Einstein came up with all his ideas completely from scratch - to my understanding, Riemann essentially generalised the idea for non-euclidean geometry a long time before Einstein and had the idea that forces could be described as disturbances in space. What he lacked were the physics side of things; he didn't know the laws that would govern such a representation of the Universe, which is what Einstein so miraculously conjured up. So going by that sort of argument, Richard Feynman (amongst others) creating Quantum Electrodynamics was pretty spectacularly brilliant, even though the idea of the Quantum Particle was reasonably developed well before QED - joint developement of the path integral method for Quantum Mechanics in general, refining the Feynman Diagram (actually originally made by Ernst Stueckelburg, but not quite as useful, or something >.<), ect.
Who's the dude who showed that the 5 different formulations of String Theory were really just one theory on Membranes? (ie M Theory)

Aha, more controverscially, what about Burkard Heim?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heim_theory

Surely with the evidence so far existing, ie the highly accurate mass, lifetime and resonance predictions of the elementary particles as given by Heim Theory, one would have to conceed to him having essentially done what Einstein tried so hard to do in the latter parts of his life... unify QM with Gravity?

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BlackSails
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby BlackSails » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:24 am UTC

Einstein did alot more than relativity. He also helped start quantum mechanics, by showing that his unit of quantization was the same as the unit that planck had, for a completely different problem. He also demonstrated that matter really is made of tiny particles, and did a ton of other stuff.

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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby hawkmp4 » Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Galileo deserves to be above Aristotle. Aristotle wasn't into experiment, so he doesn't count.

Neither was Einstein...
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:06 am UTC

How so? If he didn't perform some of his experiments directly, he relied on them to prove the validity of his theories. He subjected general relativity to the test of gravitational lensing of light, for example. The greeks were into pure reason. My impression of Einstein and the physicists he associated with, was that they did check often against the world to decide the applicability of their theories.

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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:13 am UTC

hawkmp4 wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:Galileo deserves to be above Aristotle. Aristotle wasn't into experiment, so he doesn't count.

Neither was Einstein...

Einstein wasn't an experimentalist, but Aristotle didn't even consider experiment a necessary part of the picture.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby hawkmp4 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:47 am UTC

Well, you said it yourself- Einstein wasn't an experimentalist. I wasn't sure what you were meaning by the comment about Aristotle so I said that in the hopes that you'd clarify- you did. I have to admit I don't think I've read any of Aristotle's work other than a small amount of his philosophy writings so I'll take your word for it.
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Re: Modern einsteins

Postby Cobramaster » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:51 pm UTC

Einstein considered experiment vital but he had other people do the experimenting for him. And most of his theories have been proven though there are a couple that we are years from being able to properly test.
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