Wackology

tony leather By tony leather, 30th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/16ext4ix/
Posted in Wikinut>Humour>Off Beat

In his secret underground laboratory. He has some sort of odd machine on the bench, cobbled together from any old bits that were to hand, and he seems bent on changing the world.

Wackology



You know the scene from B movies. The wild-eyed figure in the white coat is mixing all sorts of strange looking chemicals in glass jars - some labeled ‘poison’ - in his secret underground laboratory. He has some sort of odd machine on the bench, cobbled together from any old bits that were to hand, and he seems bent on changing the world.

Is this the archetypal mad scientist? Hell no, it’s Thomas Alva Edison at ten years old, at the beginning of a journey of discovery that would end with him having patented over 1,000 new inventions, some of which changed society for ever. He was a workaholic who always looked a mess, but his mind was as sharp as a tack.

Many of the men whose vision brought astounding new discoveries to science could have been said to be a few cents short of being a full dollar. Benjamin Franklin was a great believer in ‘air baths’ and would often walk around naked, as would Charles Richter, who gave his name to the earthquake tremor scale.

Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of gravity, was obsessed with trying to turn base metals into gold. Alexander Graham Bell, American inventor of the telephone, kept his windows blacked out because he feared ‘harmful’ radiation from the moon, and spent years trying to teach his dog to talk.

Wackology Two

Experts believe that 99% of inventors can be described as eccentric in some way, and this begs the question about how fine the psychological line is between genius and insanity. The man who discovered Hydrogen – English physicist Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) – was so afraid of contact with other human beings that he had an elaborate system of stairways in his house, just to avoid the servants.

English geologist William Buckland (1784-1856), who worked how the earth’s crust had evolved, kept a hyena in his nursery and would eat anything. When shown the embalmed heart of French King Louis XIV, he joyfully shouted I have never before feasted on the heart of a king! , grabbing it before anyone could stop him.

Weird or eccentric behaviour usually begins early in life for these gifted people, who possibly view things in a totally different way to the rest of us. These kids, super intelligent, will shut themselves away for hours, poring over books, and this complete self absorption often leads to them being highly reclusive.
Wackology is the name given to the science of the strange, and there are few things odder than the ideas which lead wackologists to making important discoveries. One wacky group in Sweden found that handshakes are a dead giveaway to personality – the colder the hand, the dodgier the person it belongs to – while in 1993, Dr Ellen Kleist of Greenland and Dr Harald Moi of Norway published the shocking report that men could catch the clap from blow-up dolls!

Wackology Three

Not all wacky ideas are so silly. In 1921, physicist Chandrasekhara Raman was en route to India by steamer was standing on deck staring into the ocean. He was pondering why the sea looked blue, and decided it must be something to do with the way the water reflected the light. This led him to winning the 1930 Nobel prize for physics, having invented Raman Spectroscopy, widely used even today in chemical analysis.

Eccentricity and discovery seem to be inseperable bedfellows in some cases. The chemist who won the 1965 Nobel Prize for chemistry – Burns Woodward – was so obsessed with the colour blue that he wouldn’t wear any other colour in clothes, or drive any other coloured car.
Silly hats are also a hallmark of eccentric genius. Isombard Kingdom Brunel wouldn’t be seen in public without a huge top hat, and he kept all his plans stored inside it, while the man who invented synthetic dyes – PeterGreiss – insisted on wearing a wooden top hat at all times.

Dr David Weeks is a neurophysiologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland, and has spent 10 years studying eccentric behaviour. He says that there are more eccentrics in science than in any other walk of life. He says of them – They see themselves as explorers of inner space, and whatever it is that makes them intellectually distinct also makes them socially distinct.

Don’t think though, for a moment, that they always get it right, because they most certainly do not. In the 1970’s, scientists worldwide were saying that the earth was slipping into a new Ice Age, but it hasn’t happened, because the earth is actually getting warmer.

At the end of the 1980’s they were predicting that AIDS would be the next doomsday virus, but again, these predictions have proved untrue. While it is undoubtedly one of the major diseases in the world today, it is by no means as rife as it was expected to be. The predicted ‘population explosion’ has also failed to happen around the world, and indeed the numbers are expected to start falling by the end of the 21st century.
Food production has still not reached a peak, despite the growing amount of land used for housing, because production methods are constantly finding new ways to get more out of the land available. The prediction that sperm counts were falling so much that the fate of humanity was in the balance is also untrue. US research showed recently that it was actually rising in some quarters.
Scientists and their theories can have us shaking our heads in bemused confusion, but perhaps some of their findings are more wacky than others, and certainly more amusing. Did you know that some wackologistsbelieve that positive thinking really can influence the environment?
For 250 years, graduates at Princeton University have graduated during late May or early June, and local folklore says the weather is always good. Sceptic Roger Nelson of Princeton decided to check this out, and researched 36 years worth of weather records. It turns out that the University has a 75% chance of staying dry, compared to only 67% in the surrounding area.
Since records show that, after celebrations end, the University is as subject to rain as everywhere else, does this suggest that positive thinking is making a difference? No one knows, but it gives some food for thought.
Weird science and wacky scientists can often make us laugh with their oddball comments and antics, but still they manage to widen our knowledge. Mankind has come on in leaps and bounds over the past two hundred years, much of it down to these comic characters and their outrageous ideas. May they entertain us for centuries to come

Wackology Four

At the end of the 1980’s they were predicting that AIDS would be the next doomsday virus, but again, these predictions have proved untrue. While it is undoubtedly one of the major diseases in the world today, it is by no means as rife as it was expected to be. The predicted ‘population explosion’ has also failed to happen around the world, and indeed the numbers are expected to start falling by the end of the 21st century.

Food production has still not reached a peak, despite the growing amount of land used for housing, because production methods are constantly finding new ways to get more out of the land available. The prediction that sperm counts were falling so much that the fate of humanity was in the balance is also untrue. US research showed recently that it was actually rising in some quarters.

Scientists and their theories can have us shaking our heads in bemused confusion, but perhaps some of their findings are more wacky than others, and certainly more amusing. Did you know that some wackologistsbelieve that positive thinking really can influence the environment?

For 250 years, graduates at Princeton University have graduated during late May or early June, and local folklore says the weather is always good. Sceptic Roger Nelson of Princeton decided to check this out, and researched 36 years worth of weather records. It turns out that the University has a 75% chance of staying dry, compared to only 67% in the surrounding area.

Since records show that, after celebrations end, the University is as subject to rain as everywhere else, does this suggest that positive thinking is making a difference? No one knows, but it gives some food for thought.

Weird science and wacky scientists can often make us laugh with their oddball comments and antics, but still they manage to widen our knowledge. Mankind has come on in leaps and bounds over the past two hundred years, much of it down to these comic characters and their outrageous ideas. May they entertain us for centuries to come

Tags

Eccentrics, Experiments, Frankenstein, Innovation, Invention, Offbeat, Science

Meet the author

author avatar tony leather
mainly non-fiction articles, though I do write short stories, poetry and descriptive prose as well. Have been writing for over ten years now

Share this page

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know

Comments

author avatar Denise O
4th May 2012 (#)

One day when I get over being occupied by one thing or another and the flippin flu, I need to read some of your work. A very interesting piece, it kept me entertained. The only thing is, you repeated the last part of section 3, in section 4. I have checked out a few of your pages and I have a question, why do you not link back to some of your older articles. You might want to give that a thought. I would hit one of your links, I like your style, as I have stated earlier. Well, nice page. Thank you for sharing.:)
By the way, I was just coming in here to (sadly) delete my messages in my inbox since having the flu, as I am not able to keep up right now but, I had to take a peek at your work. I know, finally.:)

Reply to this comment

author avatar tony leather
4th May 2012 (#)

Very Nice of you to be so complimentary. Thanks

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Username
Can't login?
Password