- Plasma Physics
The idea of
parallel electric fields was proposed over 50 years ago by Nobel laureate, of Sweden. Although ridiculed at the time as electric fields
directed this way were believed to "short out" when oriented along the
highly conducting magnetic field lines, observations gathered in space, such as
those from the FAST satellite, as well as recent theoretical advances, have
clearly shown that such processes produce the aurora and may indeed be
widespread in nature. [Source: UC Berkely]
Arrhenius - Ion Chemistry
His idea that electrolytes are full of charged atoms was
considered crazy. The atomic theory was new at the time, and everyone
"knew" that atoms were indivisible (and hence they could not
"lose" or "gain" any electric charge.) Because of his
heretical idea, he only received his university degree by a very narrow margin.
The value of Arrhenius' work was not well understood because the idea of a
connection between electricity and chemical affinity, once advocated by
Berzelius, had vanished from the general consciousness of scientists in his
university at Uppsalla but attention from a couple of established scientists in
Stockholm helped him to get recognition for his work. Arrhenius was awarded the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903.
- Television camera
When the first television system was demonstrated to the
Royal Society (British scientists,) they scoffed and ridiculed it. His work a
crucial break-through in [...]
technology. Today, 95% of modern TV is pre-recorded, an approach recommended by
Baird. A large amount of contemporary TV utilizes the film scanning system of
Rank-Cintel, which absorbed Baird's Cinema .
Baird's single electronic gun CRT development work in 1945 was eventually
followed in the design of the Sony Trinitron tube. In a manner that today seems
commonplace, his initial mechanical solution was quickly supplanted by newer
technology, but his inventive work continued and his legacy continues. Baird
succeeded in perfecting visual transmission systems others had long abandoned.
His single-minded tenacity proves that most obstacles are no greater than the
limits of the imagination.
- Fast, warm-blooded dinosaurs
T. Bakker is far and wide paleontology's greatest and most well known character.
You probably know Bakker as the man who hypothesized that dinosaurs may have
been warmblooded, or the scientist who believed that diseases caused the demise
of the terrible lizards, or the author who wrote the book the Dinosaur Heresies.
But, there is much more to the career of Dr. Robert Bakker. [...]
- Black holes
Chandrasekhar presented on white
dwarfs and their size limits at the Royal Astronomical Society in January 1935,
but the most famous astronomer at that time, Arthur Eddington, ridiculed his
ideas. Chandra went to several famous physicists and asked them to check his
calculations. All of them agreed that there was no mistake, but it still took
decades before the Chandrasekhar Limit was accepted by all astrophysicists.
Eventually his idea became the foundation for the theory of black holes.
Because he didn't find acceptance by
astronomers in England, and political fighting and favoritism blocked his
chances for a good job in India, Chandra came to the United States.
Eventually, Eddington admitted that Chandra's theory was right, and they made
peace. Forty years after he first announced his theory, Chandra was awarded the
1983 Nobel Prize in physics.
Ernst Chladni - Meteorites
Florens Friedrich Chladni was a Russian of German origin who was a member of
the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1794 he published a book in
which he argued that meteorites were in fact rocks that had fallen from the
sky. He came to that conclusion after comparing the Krasnojarsk
pallasite and an iron found in Otumpa between Paraguay and Argentina. He
noted their exotic make up. He also pointed out that not only was the
metal in the two rocks identical, there were no rocks even remotely near
where they were found that were similar. He correctly stated that they
had in fact fallen from the sky due to the effects of earth’s gravity and
further that these rocks formed fireballs when they passed through the
atmosphere. This work was not well
received by the leading scientists of the day because at the time meteorites
were believed to be “thunder stones” formed in storms by earth rocks
being sucked up in a vacuum and being struck by lightning.
Another reason was that most meteorites were stones and not irons.
Almost to mock his critics on December 13, 1795 under a clear blue
sky a 25 kilo meterorite fell on Wold Cottage in Yorkshire.
Analysis of this stone found iron that matched the iron in the
meteorites discussed in Chladni’s book.
- Doppler effect
Proposed a theory of the optical Doppler Effect in 1842,
but was bitterly opposed for two decades because it did not fit with the
accepted physics of the time (the Ether theory.) He was finally proven right in
1868 when W. Huggins observed red shifts and blue shifts in stellar spectra.
Unfortunately this was fifteen years after he had died.
Galileo Galilei - Heliocentric Universe (Copernican
ideas about the universe at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution were
first dismissed as being impossible. Upon review, however, the priests and
aristocrats feared the worldview that Galileo’s universe was beginning to
force upon them. Galileo was placed under house arrest until the end of his
life, he received a formal apology from the Catholic Church only in the past
decade, hundreds of years after his death. [The
- Mathematics Prodigy; Group Theory
terse style, uncompromising personality and the sheer originality of his ideas
contributed to the delay in the publication of his papers and failure to get
appropriate recognition for his work. There was also a certain amount of bad
luck. One manuscript was lost when the reviewer died. Throughout his short life
his mathematical insights were poorly understood. He was killed in a duel when
he was just 21. Galois' brother and his friend Chevalier copied his math papers
and sent them to mathematicians including Gauss and Jacobi. Galois had wished
that Gauss and Jacobi would review his work, but no record of any comments
exists. The mathematician Liouville did review his work and announced to the
Academy that he had found in Galois' papers a concise solution
...as correct as it is deep of this
lovely problem: Given an irreducible equation of prime
degree, decide whether or not it is soluble by radicals.
Galois' papers in his journal in 1846. The theory that Galois outlined in these
papers is now called Galois theory.
Luigi Galvani - bioelectricity
experiments were ridiculed because they countered established views. According
to Galvani, "They call me the frogs' dance instructor." His
innovative experiments helped to establish the basis for
the biological study of neurophysiology. The paradigm shifted from the view of
Descartes and his contemporaries. Nerves were not water pipes or channels, as
had been thought, but electrical conductors. Information within the nervous
system was carried by electricity generated directly by the organic tissue.
William Harvey - circulation of blood
annouced his discovery that blood circulated around the body in 1616 causing the scientific
community of the time to ostracize him. He had challenged Galen's view, popular
for 1400 years, that blood was continually being made and used up. Harvey's
theory was met with much resistance because by implication it threw doubt
on the value of blood letting, a very popular treatment of the day.
Hans Adolf Krebs
- ATP energy, Krebs cycle
displayed great flexibility in following surprising results. A humble and
occasionally sardonic man, Krebs suggested to a meeting of the American
Philosophical Society in 1970 that the way to impress upon governments the value
of scientific exploration would be to do away with the vast amount of wasteful
and gratuitous research he described as ”occupation therapy for the university
staff.” Krebs received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physiology.
Karl F. Gauss
- nonEuclidean geometery
Kept secret his discovery of non-Euclidean geometry for
thirty years because of fear of ridicule. Lobachevsky later published similar
work and WAS ridiculed. After Gauss' death his work was finally published, but
even then it took decades for Noneuclidean Geometery to win acceptance among the
Binning/Roher/Gimzewski - Scanning-tunneling
Invented in 1982, surface scientists refused to believe
that atom-scale resolution was possible, and demonstrations of the STM in 1985
were still met by hostility, shouts, and laughter from the specialists in the
microscopy field. It's discoverers won the Nobel prize in 1986, which went far
in forcing an unusually rapid change in the attitude of colleagues.
- Rocket-powered space ships
first obtained public notoriety in 1907 when he fired a powder rocket in the
basement of the physics building at WPI. School officials then took an immediate
interest in Goddard's work and, to their credit, did not expel him for the
incident. In this 1920 publication, Goddard outlined the possibility of a rocket
reaching the moon and exploding a load of flash powder on its surface to mark
the rocket's arrival. The bulk of his scientific report to the Smithsonian was a
dry explanation of how he used the $5000 grant in his research. The press picked
up Goddard' s proposal about a rocket flight to the moon and sparked a
journalistic controversy concerning the feasibility of such a concept. Goddard
was widely ridiculed, causing him to deeply resent the press corps, a view that
he held for the rest of his life.
- Land color theory
- Deep non-biological petroleum deposits; deep mine microbes
- Endosymbiotic organelles
In 1970 Margulis was not only denied funding but subjected
to intense scorn by reviewers at the NSF. "I was flatly turned down,"
Margulis said, and the grants officers added "that I should never apply
again." Textbooks today quote her discovery as a plausible theory; that plant and animal
cells are really communities of cooperating bacteria.
Julius R. Mayer - The Law of Conservation of
Mayer's original paper was contemptuously rejected by the
leading physics journals of the time.
B. Marshall - ulcers caused by bacteria, helicobacter
Stomach ulcers are caused by acid. All physicians knew
this. Marshall needed about ?? years to convince the medical establishment to
change their beliefs and accept that ulcers are a bacterial disease.
- Mobile genetic elements, "jumping genes", transposons
J. Newlands - pre-Mendeleev periodic table
George S. Ohm
- Ohm's Law
Ohm's initial publication was met with ridicule and
dismissal. His work was called "a tissue of naked fantasy." Approx.
ten years passed before scientists began to recognize its great importance.
- Regenerating neurons
After twenty years as a ridiculed minority, Nottebohm's
work with songbird brains was finally taken seriously, and the biologists of
today now recognize that the age-old dogma was wrong: brains DO regenerate
neurons after all.
- Germ theory of disease
Stanford R. Ovshinsky - amorphous semiconductor
Physicists "knew" that chips and transistors
could only be made of expensive slices of single-crystal silicon. Ovshinsky's
breakthrough invention of glasslike semiconductors was attacked by physicists
and then ignored for more than a decade. Ovshinsky was bankrupt and destitute
when finally the Japanese took interest and funded his work. The result: the new
science of amorphous semiconductor physics, as well as inexpensive thin-film
semiconductor technology (in particular the amorphous solar cell, photocopier
components, and writeable CDROMS sold by Sharp Inc. and other Japanese
- Surgical cleanliness, puerperal fever
intuits that germs are leading to infections and death in surgical settings. He
studies the phenomena and makes dramatic improvements in patient care that save
thousands of lives. Instead of accolades, he is seen as bringing criticism on
the medical establishment. He is demoted and ridiculed. In 1865 he suffers a
mental breakdown and is committed to a mental institution. There, at age 47, he
cuts his finger. Ironically, he dies of puerperal fever a few days later.
- Earth electrical resonance, now called "Schumann"
resonance; brushless AC motor
An AC motor which lacks brushes was thought to be an
instance of a Perpetual Motion Machine.
- Viral cause of cancer
F. Sherwood Rowland
first warned that chemicals called cholorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were
destroying the ozone layer. They were ridiculed for their work for years
before being vindicated by the discovery of a massive hole in the ozone
layer over Antarctic. Rowland,
along with Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen, won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for
James Sidis - Prodigy
prodigy that was widely regarded as a dysfunctional failure because he collected
subway transfers. Sidis published a number of thought-provoking and scholarly
works and, in spite of myths to the contrary, seems to have been well-adjusted.
Warren S. Warren - Anomolies in MRI theory
Warren and his team at Princeton tracked down a Magnetic
Resonance anomaly and found a new facet to MRI theory: spin interactions between
distant molecules, including deterministic Chaos effects. Colleagues knew he was
wrong, and warned him that his crazy results were endangering his career.
Princeton held a "roast", a mean-spirited bogus presentation mocking
his work. Warren then began encountering funding cancellations. After approx.
seven years, the tide of ridicule turned and Warren was vindicated. His
discoveries are even leading to new MRI techniques. See: SCIENCE NEWS, Jan 20
2001, V159 N3,
Alfred Wegener - Continental drift
Wilbur and Orville Wright - Flying machines
After their Kitty Hawk success, The Wrights
flew their machine in open fields next to a busy rail line in Dayton Ohio for
almost an entire year. American authorities refused to come to the demos, and
Scientific American Magazine published stories about "The Lying
Brothers." Even the local Dayton newspapers never sent a reporter (but
they did complain about all the letters they were receiving from local
"crazies" who reported the many flights.) Finally the Wrights packed
up and moved to Europe, where they caused an overnight sensation and sold
aircraft contracts to France, Germany, Britain, etc.
- Quark theory
Zweig published quark theory at CERN in 1964 (calling them
'aces'), but everyone knows that no particle can have 1/3 electric charge.
Rather than receiving recognition, he encountered stiff barriers and was accused
of being a charlatan.
Genius, Creativity and the Mainstream
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