• Question: who is the worlds most known scientist?

    Asked by kiki to Stewart, Miriam, Marton, Laura, Kathryn, David on 12 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: David Ho

      David Ho answered on 12 Nov 2018:


      It probably depends who you ask! Some of the names that come to my mind are Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Isaac Newton, but then again, I’m a physicist so I’m more likely to think of people who study physics.

      One thing I find sad is that a lot of the people who people first think of when they are asked to name scientists are men. So even though they might not be as well-known at the moment, I’ll name some women scientists who I think people could learn a lot from: if you haven’t heard of them try looking up Rosalind Franklin, Jocelyn Bell Burnell or Ada Lovelace!

    • Photo: Laura Kent

      Laura Kent answered on 12 Nov 2018:


      Id like to add to Davids list of Dorothy Hodgkin who is the only British female to have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (possibly all sciences!) and Lesley Yellowlees who was the first female President of the Royal Society of Chemistry

    • Photo: Stewart Martin-Haugh

      Stewart Martin-Haugh answered on 12 Nov 2018:


      For dead scientists, it’s almost certainly Einstein. He fits a certain stereotype of scientist: untidy hair and appearance, unusual behaviour etc. But this is largely from pictures of him later in life:

      When he was younger (and doing some of his most important work), he looked much tidier:

      Of course, how you look doesn’t affect how good you are at science, and hopefully other people should treat you the same. In practice, this isn’t always true. Scientists are not necessarily more rational than anyone else.

      As David and Laura say, it’s a shame that we tend to think of scientists as male: there are many amazing scientists who were women, many who had to undergo great hardship in their lifetime. One of my heroes is Emmy Noether, who found out that conservation of energy is related to time. But at university she was forbidden from taking courses, and worked for many years as a lecturer WITHOUT PAY. I think I would have given up in her situation: it’s amazing that she persisted.

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