Tag Archives | geniuses

Groundbreaking Geniuses And The Drugs They Say Inspired Them

drugsThis is your brain on drugs, via Alternet:

Sigmund Freud — Cocaine. To Freud, cocaine was more than a personal indulgence; it was a veritable wonder drug, and for many years he was a huge proponent of its use in a wide array of applications. Freud’s paper titled “Uber Coca” in 1884 was one of the first to propose drug substitution as a therapeutic treatment for addiction.

Francis Crick — LSD. Evidently, Crick – of the DNA-structure discovering Watson, Crick, and Franklin – at one point told a close friend that Cambridge University’s researchers often used LSD in small amounts as “a thinking tool” and he had actually “perceived the double-helix shape while on LSD.”

Thomas Edison — Cocaine Elixers. Thomas Edison was one of many people of the period known to regularly consume the cocaine-laced elixir “Vin Mariani,” a Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves.

Steve Jobs — LSD.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Mad Scientist: A History

Movieland_Wax_Museum_Buena_Park_CA_Vincent_Price_House_of_Wax_1962_60618BBeginning with Faustus of Milevis, covering the historical association between genius and mental illness, mad alchemists of the Renaissance, grave robbing and organ snatching, io9 has a rollicking look at the mad scientist in Western culture:

The mad scientist can be usefully defined as an individual who conducts scientific experiments, invents something scientific, or does original scientific research, all while suffering from both psychological and moral insanity.

Historically the mad scientist has fallen into one of two modes. The first, what literary critics have variously labelled as “Promethean” or “utopian,” roughly follows the model of the figure of Prometheus from Greek mythology: the scientist is not inherently evil, and in fact is usually portrayed as either a self-sacrificing idealist or a deluded comic figure. The scientist’s mad science is morally ambivalent and ultimately degrades the moral sensibilities of the humans it comes in contact with. The Promethean/utopian mad scientist has noble goals but fails through human weakness, both his/her own and others’.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Weird And Wonderful Sketchbooks Of Alexander Graham Bell

horsekiteThe Atlantic has scans from the notebooks of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who had an abundance of ideas for serious and non-serious devices. It’s a delight to peruse his sketches, of both nature and such inventions as helicopters, futuristic eyeglasses, playground equipment, the “radiotome”, and (at right) the horse-pulled kite:

It was on March 10, 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. “‘Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you,” he said to his assistant, who was in the next room. Bell recorded those early telephone experiments in his lab notebooks from the time, as he did with countless other experiments and ideas.

The books are a priceless treasure of an incredibly fertile mind working through one of the most exciting periods of technological innovation in the history of the world. The sketches, though, are more than just dry recordings of physical principles. Bell’s drawings are expressive in ways that few technical sketches are.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Russian Math Genius Refuses $1 Million Prize, Quits Mathematics For Ping Pong

Not only is Grigori Perelman turning down a $1 million prize for solving one of the world’s hardest math problems, he is giving up math for a life of table tennis. From the Huffington Post:

Dr Grigori Perelman, a reclusive Russian genius, is refusing to accept the prestigious $1 million “Millennium” mathematics prize awarded by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Perelman was awarded the prize for solving the one-hundred-year-old Poincaré conjecture, one of the most complicated mathematical problems in the world – so complex, in fact, that after Perelman posted his proofs in 2002 it took several years for other experts to confirm he was correct.

Perelman has apparently given up on mathematics, dismayed at the intellectual and moral failings of his peers. Instead, according to reports, he likes to play table tennis against a wall in his apartment. “You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms,” he told a journalist who managed to get in touch with him.

Read the rest
Continue Reading