Science is a collective process. It is a “piecemeal” endeavor that never truly ends.
Because of this reality, it is important to give acknowledgments to researchers who have enlightened and inspired.
Unfortunately though, not every one plays nice. Some figures in history who received credit for scientific discovery where intellectual thieves.
Some of them may really surprise you.
Have you ever heard of Nikola Tesla? Chances are you haven't.
Were you told in grade school that Thomas Edison was a revolutionary inventor and scientist who championed mankind into the electronic age?
If so, that was a bold-faced lie, according to several sources.
Edison is also credited with the invention of the light bulb. The truth is that Edison actually improved upon the ideas of 22 other individuals who pioneered the idea before him.
We'll get back to Edison later, lets talk about Tesla.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hanugarian Empire, region of Croatia.
He attended college originally in the fields of physics and mathematics, but became increasingly interested in electricity.
While in Europe, he built a prototype of the induction motor (90% of industrial motors are induction motors), which ran successfully. Unfortunately, no one was really interested in such a radical device.
He left for America, where he was offered a job to work directly under Thomas Edison himself.
Tesla worked for Edison for a sort while, but there relationship quickly fell into disarray.
Edison had a monopoly here in the states on the DC (Direct Current) electrical system.
The issue with DC systems is that they require a power plant every square mile to strengthen the signal. DC systems cannot transmit electricity very far.
Tesla began to work on a different system to deliver electricity called Alternating Current (AC).
This started a feud between Edison and Tesla. Their working relationship fell apart and Tesla went on his way to perfect his design.
Sensing the superior design of Tesla's AC system, Edison stooped to sabotage.
Edison payed local school children a quarter for every live cat and dog they brought to him.
What did Edison do to these animals you ask?
He publicly electrocuted them using Tesla's AC system to somehow convey that it wasn't safe.
What a guy!
Let's look at some of the discovery that Tesla was involved in but never really got credit for:
Radio: Guglielmo Marconi is who most history books put as the inventor of radio. The fact of the matter is, Marconi used a lot of Tesla's designs. After Marconi became world-famous and won the Noble Prize, this was Tesla's response:
“Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents.”
Radar: An English Scientist named Robert A. Watson-Watt was credited with the invention of radar in 1935. Telsa actually came up with the idea in 1917. Tesla pitched the idea to the U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War I but was turned down. Why? Because the head of Research and Development for the Navy convinced them that Radar had no practical application in war. By the way, the head of R & D for the Navy at the time was none other than – Yup, Thomas Edison.
For the interest of time, here are a few more inventions Tesla was involved in:
The Transistor (used in computers!)
An earthquake machine (I'm not making that up either!)
Wireless communications (Yeah, WiFi!)
The list literally goes on and on.
The man was a sheer genius, had a photographic memory, and apparently saw visions of complex machinery in the sky. He was also celibate his entire life and talked to pigeons.
Ok, maybe he was odd, but the man was extremely intelligent and we have a lot to thank him for!
You can celebrate Tesla on Nikola Tesla day which is July 10th!
If you are interested in more on Nikola Tesla, check out these sites:
You have probably heard that the structure of DNA is a double helix or a “twisty ladder.”
Rosalind Franklin was born in London on July 25th, 1920. She excelled in science and knew at the age of 15 that she wanted to be a scientist.
Her father, who didn't think that women belonged in higher education, especially science, told her to be a social worker.
Thank goodness for her sake and ours, she didn't listen.
Franklin received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge University in 1945. She then went on to spend three years (1947-1950) in Paris at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de L'Etat, where she learned X-ray diffraction techniques.
X-ray diffraction is a technique that allows visualization of microscopic molecular structures.
In 1951, she returned to England as a research associate in John Randall's laboratory at King's College London.
This was where Franklin was given the responsibility of the DNA project that no one was really working on.
It was also here that Franklin came into contact with Maurice Wilkins for the first time. Wilkins was a molecular biologist also working at the college.
When Franklin and Wilkins first met, he though she was a research assistant because at the time, women rarely entered the scientific field.
Franklin worked on the DNA project between 1951 and 1953. During this time, she came very close to solving the structural aspects of DNA.
Unfortunately, she was beaten to publication by Watson and Crick after Wilkins showed them a X-ray crystallographic image of DNA made by Franklin without her consent.
Watson and Crick immediately published their findings in Nature and never cited any of Franklin's work nor did her own article appear in the journal issue as a supporting article.
To make matters worse, the dangers of X-ray exposure where not very well known at the time. Years of being around X-ray's took its toll on Franklin's body. She was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer in 1956 and died on April 16th, 1958.
To add insult to injury, Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for “their” work. Unfortunately, noble prizes cannot be awarded posthumously.
Don't get me wrong, Watson and Crick were very intelligent scientists and understood a lot of the theory behind molecular biology, however, they wouldn't have been able to publish without the work of Rosalind Franklin because it answered their final question regarding the structure of DNA.
Looking for information on Rosalind Franklin? Check out these sites:
Well, I hope this article got you thinking.
Never take anything for face value when it comes to discovery. Chances are, there are a lot of other people that deserve recognition that seldom ever do.
If you liked this piece and are interested in more examples like this, tell me in the comments and I will continue to write more like this one!
Thank you, and remember to think about it!