5 interesting facts that prove that great scientists are people too

1. Isaac Newton was a bad teacher

In 1669, 26-year-old Isaac Newton received the honorary position of Lucasian professor of mathematics at his alma mater, Trinity College, Cambridge University. From that moment on, the scientist had to give lectures at least once a week on a topic of his choice, as well as help students who turned to him.

Trinity College where Newton worked. Photo: Rafa Esteve / Wikimedia Commons

But Newton considered teaching a waste of time and was definitely not a born lecturer. The physicist conducted the classes boringly, explained confusedly and without enthusiasm. As a result, at best, 3-4 students attended his lectures.

Humphrey Newton

Newton’s assistant at the university.

He rarely left his office. Unless when he gave lectures, which students attended so poorly, even less understood that sometimes, due to a lack of listeners, he read for the walls.

It should be noted that the attendance of university classes, as well as the diligence and discipline of students, were then generally low. Nevertheless, Newton’s lectures were especially unpopular. So, only three students remembered their studies with the great physicist – a fact that one can be proud of. And this is for almost 30 years that Newton taught at Cambridge.

However, the scientist himself did not seem to care much. He got a well-paid position and a lot of free time to do science.

2. Nikolai Lobachevsky in his youth did not differ in exemplary behavior

The future creator of non-Euclidean geometry always studied well, but he did not like to observe discipline.

After the gymnasium, in which even letters to relatives were allowed to write only under the supervision of guards, Lobachevsky was able to enjoy the freedom of the university in Kazan. During his studies, the name of the mathematician was mentioned 33 times in a special journal (conduit), where the misconduct of students was recorded.

Although Lobachevsky mostly cursed with teachers and violated discipline, sometimes he committed extravagant antics. So, the students said that Lobachevsky jumped over the obese professor Nikolsky on a dare. The young man allegedly seized a good moment when the teacher slowly descended the stairs.

In 1808, Lobachevsky and a friend launched a rocket in the courtyard of the university. For this act, the negligent student spent three days in a punishment cell, eating bread and water. And in 1810, despite the prohibitions, Lobachevsky went to New Year’s carnivals several times.

The mathematician was even accused of atheism, a serious offense at that time. As it was said in the conduit: “To a large extent, he showed signs of godlessness …”

Lobachevsky tortured everyone so much that they even wanted to expel him from the university and send him to the soldiers. Fortunately, teachers stood up for the young rake – professors Martin Bartels and Franz Broner. As a result, Lobachevsky graduated from Kazan University and stayed to work there: he became a professor, and later a rector.

3. Charles Darwin was afraid of the sight of blood

Charles Darwin’s father Robert was a practicing physician, but he couldn’t stand the sight of blood. This feature was transferred to Charles himself.

Charles Darwin

British biologist and naturalist.

In the last years of his life, even the very thought of an operation disgusted him, and he could hardly bear the sight of a bleeding person; this fear was transmitted to them and to me, and I remember with what horror I read in my school years about how Pliny (I think he) bled to death in a warm bath.

Although Darwin Sr. did not particularly like his profession, he made a lot of money in this business. And so he decided to send his two sons, Erasmus and Charles, to study at the medical faculty. If the first one was even able to get a diploma, then the second one gave up everything. From one look at the blood and mutilation, Charles became ill.

Charles Darwin

British biologist and naturalist.

Twice I also visited the operating room of the hospital in Edinburgh and was present at two very difficult operations, and during one of them a child was operated on, but I escaped without waiting for them to be completed. Never again did I go to surgery, and there would hardly have been a lure so attractive that it could be used to force me to do this.

The great naturalist never overcame this fear, although later he believed that over time he could overcome disgust, and knowledge of anatomy would be useful to him in scientific works.

4. Albert Einstein gave all the Nobel money to his wife and children as alimony.

The creator of the theory of relativity was married twice. While still a student, he met Mileva Marich, a classmate at the Swiss Polytechnic Institute, who was not inferior to Einstein in knowledge and abilities.

Einstein and Marich, 1912 Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, while Albert conquered the physical Olympus, Mileva faced many setbacks. She never received her degree and diploma, gave birth to an illegitimate daughter whose fate is unknown, and resigned herself to the role of a housewife when she and Einstein finally married in 1903.

Already in 1912, Albert began an affair with his cousin and future second wife Elsa Leventhal (nee Einstein). The physicist’s marriage began to fall apart: since 1914, the couple did not live together, and Einstein only sent money to his wife and sons.

During the divorce, Mileva put forward a condition: Einstein must transfer the money that he will receive with the Nobel Prize to the needs of the children. Such are the unusual alimony. Former spouses even signed a special agreement . When Einstein received the award in 1921, he fulfilled his obligation.

Some researchers even believe that such a strange requirement was not accidental. They suggest that Einstein and Marić worked together and wrote papers. In confirmation, the words of acquaintances of the physicist and the results of linguistic analysis are given, but there is no direct evidence of such a creative union.

5. The Bohr brothers were into football.

The interests of the Danish physicist and Nobel laureate Niels Bohr extended far beyond science. For example, he was not indifferent to football and even played a season as a goalkeeper for Akademisk Boldklub, one of the oldest and strongest clubs in Denmark at that time. They even tell how, during one of the matches, Niels thought deeply about some task and missed a long-range shot.

The 1908 Danish Olympic football team. Harald Bohr is second from the left in the top five players. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Niels’ younger brother, the famous mathematician Harald, also played for Akademisk and achieved great success. He made the Danish national team and won the silver medal at the 1908 London Olympics. In the final, the Danes lost to the founders of football – the British.

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