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Tay Writes Sometimes

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#28 Scientists in an Adventure with Life

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It's Splash Time


This is something I've been considering writing for a while. Science is that magical realm that enthralls everyone, even those that don't recognize it as such. Pretty colours, fire and explosions, what's not to like? The past of this obscure subject shows the true magic is itself. Forget wands and spells, magic was and is a kind of natural philosophy called Science.

Where does this obsession stem from? Ancient Greek philosophers, loathing change, sought to bring meaning to the bleak world by finding a "theory of everything", a theory even today is hidden if it truly can exist. The trouble, for them, was the way they thought, some out-right denying change could exist, others desperately trying to account for all types of change possible. Some ideas were accepted widely, others were not. Copernicus, the first to believe the Earth went around the sun, had his book banned from the church. His ideas seemed to say the heavens were not, as the church would say, perfect and unchanging. Many, many scientists, whether well-known or not, were not truly appreciated for their efforts until after their death.

That is not the only problem standing in the way of these great people. The number of scientists that have had mental illnesses or have committed suicide from the thought of their efforts never succeeding is amazing, but horrifying. Possibly the worst story of this sorts is of Turing, the man responsible for breaking the Enigma Code, who was convicted of "acts of gross indecency" i.e. having sex with another man. His punishment was chemical castration, the humiliation of which drove him to eat an apple laced with cyanide. Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio, was so convinced his plan would fail he jumped from the 13th floor of his apartment. Ludwig Boltzmann, contributed much to the fields of thermodynamics and atomic theory but took his own life, most likely suffering from bipolar disorder. Viktor Meyer was a highly gifted chemist that had a series of mental breakdowns before finally killing himself with cyanide.

Nikola Tesla, the man who invented AC current along with various others, was an unusual man to say the least. It is likely he had OCD, becoming obsessed with the number three. He never married, kept to himself even though women wanted his affections. He was claimed to have never slept for more than two hours at a time and had a photographic memory. He had a specific routine for each day and stuck to it. For example, he would refuse to be served by any other than the head waiter in the specific hotel/restaurant he was at, and had to have the dinner ready by ten to eight in the evening.

What am I trying to say by all this? I'm not sure. Maybe we should stick through life, remembering the great people before us who can now be remembered and think of how people will remember you.

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