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That is the Discover Magazine’s series of articles, which includes:

The 10 Most Influential People in Science

20 Best Brains Under 40

Teen Genius: 5 Promising Scientists Under 20

…and more (the series, as the numbers above do not add up to 50, must still be in progress).

Comments

  1. #1 Jonathan Vos Post
    November 26, 2008

    For the sake of balance, it would be useful to have a follow-up in a decade of how well the under 20 geniuses, and the under-40 geniuses have done.

    For that matter, I’d love to see (modulo the laws of defamation) a list of the 50 most over-rated people in science.

    It would be easy to start with highly touted discoveries which turned out to be nondiscoveries. Lysenko. N-rays. Polywater. Eugenics. Geocentrism. CIA psionics experiments. Young Earth and New Age crackpots. Creationists. Intelligent Design liars (especially those who, for instance, teach at a Medical School). Ruth B. Drown, who sold fake radio-based cancer cures to desperate, dying people for decades. George W. Bush’s political hacks who censor NASA and EPA reports… he’s appointing more such creatures this very week.

    What do you think of this proposal?

  2. #2 Coturnix
    November 26, 2008

    Oh, that would be tough to pull off – lots of insulted people, lawsuits flying ;-)

    But most of your examples are not over-rated scientists, but various pseudoscientists, non-scientists, anti-scientists, denialists, cranks, quacks and moral-less politicians.

  3. #3 Cuttlefish
    November 26, 2008

    They spelled my name wrong.
    It’s “Cuttlefish”, with a C
    And an “uttlefish”.

  4. #4 James F
    November 27, 2008

    Nicole King is the only person I know on the list (in that oblique grad-school way), and I must say it’s a well-deserved honor. She was also named a MacArthur Fellow in ’05.

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    November 27, 2008

    Hands up anyone who seriously thinks that every one of the 10 most influential people in science and 20 best brains under 40 are all in the US. Anyone?

    I can’t see any disclaimer about these just being Americans, so isn’t Discover just being racist?

  6. #6 Bob O'H
    November 27, 2008

    Hands up anyone who seriously thinks that every one of the 10 most influential people in science and 20 best brains under 40 are all in the US. Anyone?

    I can’t see any disclaimer about these just being Americans, so isn’t Discover just being racist?

  7. #7 Bob O'H
    November 27, 2008

    Oops. sorry for the double post.

    If I post it again, does it automatically become true?

  8. #8 MissPrism
    November 27, 2008

    Yes, I noticed that too, Bob. They mention “American science” in the intro to the 50 people, but then their Lifetime Achievers includes Stephen Hawking who’s always worked in the UK.

  9. #9 Coturnix
    November 27, 2008

    I have met Harold Varmus and Ed Boyden from the lists. I also noticed that the lists are restricted to the Anglo-American sphere. Bob – thanks for that link: I was looking for it myself for another post that is brewing in my head.

  10. #10 Jonathan Vos Post
    November 28, 2008

    Re: MissPrism and Coturnix:

    “Stephen Hawking who’s always worked in the UK” and “Anglo-American” — except for his regular stays at Caltech, in Pasadena, California, as guest of Prof. Kip Thorne, and his new appointment to the position of Perimeter Institute Distinguished Research Chair.

    “In announcing that Prof. Hawking will visit PI for extended periods each year [beginning summer 2009], PI Director Neil Turok said, ‘The appointment marks a new phase in our recruitment that will see leading scientists from around the world establish a second ‘research home’ at Perimeter Institute. I am delighted that Stephen has agreed to accept the first of a projected 40 such visiting Chairs. We look forward to hosting Stephen in Waterloo, Ontario, to benefiting from his wise mentorship and guidance which has been so successful in Cambridge, and to the many stimulating scientific collaborations which will undoubtedly emerge.’”

    I’m also wondering if:
    (a) Discover made an intentional editorial decision to restrict themselves to USA/UK/Canada, perhaps as a part of the “American Triumphalism” glaringly obvious in the likes of George W. Bush and Sarah Palin;
    (b) they are preparing a follow-up article on “The 10 Most Influential People outside the Angloamerican hegemony in Science”;
    (c) The skinflint editors wanted to save money on reimbursable phonecalls and snailmails beyond our parochial borders?

    If the next Isaac Newton lived in New Zealand or Africa, would we ever hear about it in the USA?