Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coolest Scientist Ever: Final Four

New Voices
Coolest Scientist Ever Tournament
Competitors from the Elite Eight were judged based on the impact of their work on their field(s) of study, their impact on society, and on votes tallied last week. The competition was steep and now it's down to the Final Four! The results are below.
To advance to the championship competition next week, each of the final four competitors will need your votes. They'll also be judged based on their popularity among the American public and their level of coolness.

Stephen Hawking beat Neil Degrasse Tyson by sheer magnitude of scientific work, primarily in the field of cosmology. He is best known for his work regarding black holes and radiation (now dubbed Hawking radiation). He also theorized that there is no boundary line to the universe. His focus on popularization has helped bring science to the masses, in large part through his best-selling books, which include A Brief History of Time. Although it is not his personal scientific work, Hawking's symptoms of ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease) and the "talking computer" with which he communicates have also helped to generate awareness of ALS and health-related technology.

Jane Goodall did her best - and had traditional science on her side - but the fact that we're writing this and you're reading this on a computer with an operating system meant that Bill Gates edged her out in the end. Gates is best known for his positions as a businessman and philanthropist, but we're focusing on his work as a computer scientist. The groundwork for the operating system on many computers today was written by Gates and his team at Microsoft in the late 1970's and early 1980's. User-friendly operating systems were the essential ingredient in the dissemination of computers throughout society, without which many of today's innovations would not be possible. In recent years, Gates has used the fortune he acquired selling his scientific inventions to fund research in other fields, including global health.

Carl Sagan and Benjamin Franklin were well-matched in popularization, but Franklin's influence on fields from optometry to electricity was too much for the creator of Cosmos. When he was not busy as a writer or statesman, Franklin invented many items including the lightening rod, the Franklin stove, and bifocals. Electricity, which is integral to our lives today, was a primary focus of his later work. As a major Enlightenment figure, Ben Franklin was also a strong promoter of scientific discourse and founded the American Philosophical Society as a forum for the discussion of scientific discoveries and theories.

Einstein and Darwin looked like a pretty equal match-up, but only the strongest--Albert Einstein--could survive. Einstein is well-known for his impact on the field of theoretical physics. Although his theories of General Relativity and Special Relativity are best-known, Einstein also committed significant amounts of energy to work on thermodynamics, the properties of light, and other endeavors. His explanation for the photoelectric effect earned him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, ranks Einstein tenth overall and describes him as “the greatest scientist of the twentieth century and one of the supreme intellects of all time.”

Tell us why your favorite is the coolest in the comments and don't forget to vote daily for the coolest scientist ever!

Who is the coolest scientist ever?
Stephen Hawking
Bill Gates
Benjamin Franklin
Albert Einstein
pollcode.com free polls

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