Category: Famous Scientists

John Skoyles

John Skoyles, neuroscientist

You exist because your big brain was “hot” as a child. Simply, your 20W adult brain used 30W of energy between four and nine years of age. This is due to SPEND (Synaptic Prolonged Expensive Neurodevelopment). Paleoanthropologists ignore this neuroscience, and its key role in making us smart. Here the jig-saw puzzle of your origins is explained.

Even though his brain was hot as a child, John Skoyles received a cold reception at school.

I went to school with a machine gun in my brain. I hated teachers. I was dyslexic. I pissed my pants and wetted the floor. When primary school year two came—they would not let me go up. Not ready, they said—“Mentally retarded”. Somehow my curiosity survived. I had to learn to break the rules. Spit out the educational crap. Keep the howitzers of my imagination ready.

Today he has found a way to harness his “brain guns” into some of the most amazing ideas on psychological evolution ever written.

I go on ten day retreats three times a year. Ten days of no words… In that stillness awareness opens. You—whatever that it is, if it is—does not have to be important or unimportant—all things are precious and just dust in the air. Nothing has a name.  Nothing needs to be said.

So I am moving on.  Decommissioning the machine gun in my brain.  Making safe my howitzers.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin: English naturalist

Born: February 12, 1809

Died: April 19, 1882

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

And Charles Darwin knew what it was like to improvise.  Never a good student, he bounced from one school, and later university, to another.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Overtime, Darwin changed and matured.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives – of approving of some and disapproving of others.

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

Eventually he became fascinated by the world of science, and then more specifically, the question of origins.  He is now famous for his theories on natural selection.

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.
My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich: environmental researcher.

Born:  May 29, 1932

Though Paul Ehrlich was not a good student, that never stopped him from dreaming big.  And his big dream was to do something that would, literally change the world.

I was always interested in nature and evolution, and decided I’d rather starve as a college professor and have fun doing research all the time than make money and only do research on short vacations. When I first arrived at Stanford, I taught an evolution course where in the first nine weeks I told students where we’d come from and in the last week told them where we were heading. The last week’s lectures attracted the attention of alumni and I began to get invitations to talk to them. That led to a speech in 1967 to the Commonwealth Club, whose talks are always broadcast on the radio. That led to more media appearances, eventually to approximately 20 times on the Johnny Carson show, and I was on the downhill slope as a public scientist.

Today he devotes his time and intellect to lecturing and writing on the effects of population growth on the environment.

Dr. James Lovelock

Dr. James Lovelock: environmental scientist.

Born July 26, 1919

His friends at school called him “The Mad Scientist” but little Jimmy Lovelock cared more about spending time with his father than he did about being with them anyway.

I learnt from him a respect for living things.  He had the mind of an ecologist and recognized the interconnection between the plants and insects.

Because of financial constraints, he was forced to work as a chemist’s apprentice instead of going to college.

The hands-on experience I gathered as an apprentice was a priceless gift that has served throughout my life as a scientist. I grew to regard accuracy in measurement as almost sacred.

Eventually he got a scholarship that allowed him to study at a university.  There he encountered an unusual problem:  he was falsely accused of cheating.

‘Look at the results of your gravimetric analyses. You have reported exactly the concentrations of bromide ion in the two solutions you analyzed. You may not know it, but students almost never get the right answer to gravimetric analyses, and certainly never twice running…. It took nearly 30 minutes to convince him that I was, after two years’ apprenticeship, a professional at this analysis. It was for me a routine task and one I expected to get right. The exchange left us both wondering what university training was really about.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci: the original “Renaissance man.”
Born: April 15, 1452
Died: May 2, 1519

People may well ask how we even know that da Vinci was dyslexic. Most modern scholars see da Vinci’s mirror writing as an indication of dyslexia. However, it is unlikely that anyone as creative as da Vinci would not be dyslexic. His ability to design in 3 dimensions and to visualize things that had never been created are clear indications that he had the gift of dyslexia.
Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.
And he also knew how to inspire others to greatness.
I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton: considered to be the greatest physicist of all time.
Born : December 25, 1642
Died: March 20, 1727

Perhaps it was the fact that as a child he learned so differently than others that kept Newton so modest about his achievements. For the discoverer of the theory of gravity, whose Laws are standard material for every student in the world, it was what lay undiscovered that was really interesting.

I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.

To me there has never been a higher source of earthly honor or distinction than that connected with advances in science.

Still, throughout his life he remained something of an outsider, never quite fitting in with those around him.

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.

In the end, however, his greatest genius, his most valuable contribution to mankind may not have been his Laws but instead his outlook.

We build too many walls and not enough bridges.

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