Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen by Clifford A. Pickover
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Overview: In this unusual and penetrating work, Clifford Pickoverinternationally recognized science popularizer – takes us on a wild ride through the bizarre lives of brilliant, but eccentric geniuses who made significant contributions to science and philosophy. Unveiling the hidden secrets of a number of the most intelligent and prolific real-life mad scientists, Pickover delights us with unexpected stories of their obsessive personalities and strange phobias. These common threads lead us to wonder if creativity and genius are inextricably linked to madness. A highly entertaining collection of oddity and mischief, this original new work playfully uncovers the scandalous details that lurk behind the unseemly lives of these geniuses. We discover that the “Unabomber, ” Ted Kaczynski, a mathematical whiz with an IQ of 170, was pathologically shy, had an uncontrollable obsession with loud sounds, especially earthy bodily noises, and enjoyed playing practical jokes in high school, such as creating homemade gadgets that would pop loudly and emit a stream of violet smoke amid class – a compulsion that may have turned deadly. Then there was the great inventor Nikola Tesla who had a peculiar love for pigeons, particularly white ones, and was terrified of women’s pearls. Plenty of other surprises abound, including the statistician and world explorer Francis Galton who quantified anything he saw – including the curves of women’s bodies, and then there are others who all lived exceedingly unusual sexual or celibate lives. With Pickover’s unique ability to draw the reader into this marvelous web of madness, he amuses us with remarkably quirky quotations attributed to these geniuses, and enchants us withintriguing yet morbid anecdotes celebrating the wonderfully unconventional childhood and careers of these individuals. Moreover, a fascinating “curiosity smorgasbord” to whet our appetites teases us with provocative questions to ponder along the way, such as: Where is Einstein’s brain?
Genre: Nonfiction > Educational > Science