Top ten scientists who have died and their science is unknown

Do you ever wonder what happens to the science left behind by some scientists we bid farewell to?

As the community of researchers, academics, and scientists mourn for the loss of their colleagues, they also grieve about the unfinished papers or unrecognized studies they penned. 

These geniuses put in hours of hard work and dedication to their discoveries. Sadly, though, their unexpected demise meant halting any progress they were making.

In some cases, the trajectory of their careers was unknown until after their death. Some scientists picked up from what they started or went totally off base from the original idea(s).

In this article, the Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down the top ten scientists who died with their science left unknown.


Scientists whose rejected ideas became popular after their death


1. Alfred Wegener (Continental Drift)

Scientists whose rejected ideas became popular after their death
Image source: https://focusterra.ethz.ch/

It is common to hear stories of revolutionary scientific theories that collected dust on the sidelines before receiving due recognition. The plate tectonics has gone through the same fate as Alfred Wegener initially proposed it, only to be ridiculed for the idea. 

Wegener opened the assumption that the continents on the earth move slowly, which could go a long way after millions of years. To support this theory, he even published a string of evidence supporting his claim. 

In Wegener’s entire lifetime, though, scientists dismissed his theory, the continental drift. The public only accepted it in the 1960s, but he died in 1930 during his Greenland expedition to witness the change of heart.


2. Gregor Mendel (Genetic Inheritance)

Scientists who have died before their Science became known
Image source: https://www.csmonitor.com/

Gregor Mendel, a monk who is a staple name in genetics, was the pioneer to correctly identify the rules of passing on traits among generations of living things.

Though Gregor published his work, the public only paid attention to Mendel’s work 16 years after he died. This private scientist, now referred to as the Father of Genetics, presented his experiment to the Brunn Society for Natural Science. 

Initially, his peers appreciated Mendel’s work because of its thoroughness, but there wasn’t recognition of its importance, as it was too ahead of its time to be understood.

 3. Ignaz Semmelweis (Hand hygiene)

Image source: https://www.bbc.com/

The Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, would’ve saved more lives, especially women and mothers if only doctors had listened to his hand hygiene call before examining patients in labor. 

When Dr. Semmelweis arrived at a maternity clinic in Vienna, he took the opportunity to collect some data. He did so after noticing that more and more women died in their maternity wards due to puerperal fever, which they also refer to as childbed fever. 

During that time, doctors in his hospital would examine diseased corpses then attend to women in childbirth without observing proper hand hygiene. They wouldn’t wash their hands before the procedure, and he believed that this practice was responsible for the deaths of women giving birth. 

The doctor became clinically depressed as he faced rejection for his work. This event led him to behave oddly. They sent him to an insane asylum that buried his proposition to the unknown only later to be proven right. 


4. Rosalind Franklin (Double Helix Structure)

Image source: https://london.ac.uk/

Does the scientific community recognize that Rosalind Franklin discovered the double helix? Unfortunately, the Nobel prize went to James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins in 1962 for the discovery of the DNA structure. 

However, Franklin’s notes showed that she was already working on the molecule with two chains outside phosphate groups. She did not publish her findings but Watson et al. used her X-ray photographs of the DNA in their studies.

She died from ovarian cancer at age 37 in 1958.


5. Ludwig Boltzmann (Properties of Atoms)

Image source: https://vpchothuegoldenking.com/

Boltzmann derived an equation with his foundational knowledge in statistical mechanics that shows the change in the distribution of energy atoms due to atomic collisions. Many from the scientific community did not see the importance of electromagnetic theory, but he was keen on studying it. James Clerk Maxwell initially explored this theory. Later on, more studies on atomic physics eventually surfaced.

He was able to explain and predict how an atom’s mass, charge, and structure determine the properties of matter. With this, he was able to apply statistical mechanics with the second law of thermodynamics.


6. George Zweig (Theory of Quarks)

Image source: Wikepedia

Zweig is a Russian-American physicist under the tutelage of Richard Feynman. He is responsible for proposing the existence of quarks, a fundamental constituent of matter.  This study now serves as the cornerstone for particle physics. 

Unfortunately, the Nobel Prize for physics went to Murray Gell-Man because the quark theory was not fully accepted. Feynman later nominated his mentee for the 1977 Nobel Prize, but he didn’t receive the award.

7. William B. Coley (Coley’s toxins)

Image source: https://www.damninteresting.com/

Coley injected streptococcal organisms to more than 1000 cancer patients in a New York hospital in the 1900s. As expected, many doctors criticized this approach even if the results showed shrinkage of the malignant tumors. That said, “Coley’s Toxins” eventually disappeared as many didn’t want to use his method.

With the evolution of immunology, more and more specialists later embraced the principles of Coley’s approach. The medical community appreciates his work better today in treating soft tissue and bone sarcomas.

8. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (Astronautic Theory)

Image source: https://www.popularmechanics.com/

Tsiolkovsky started studying aerodynamics. However, he later developed more interest in space-related discoveries such as astronautics. 

He studied and wrote his work on flying machines that are lighter than air. This research started his scientific design using metal sheath – a model with an all-metal dirigible. Sadly though, his idea to build an airplane with a metal frame wasn’t popular back then. 

Because of this, he moved on to write and study other things. Later on, however, he still went back to studying theories involving the motion of rocket apparatus. This led him to discover the “formula of aviation” that is foundational in NASA today.

9. Alfred Russel Wallace (Evolution)

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) *after a photograph by Elliott & Fry, 1903 *1923
Image source: https://oxsci.org/

Charles Darwin is the first scientist we think of when we talk about the theory of natural selection and evolution. However, it was co-developed by Wallace, a geographer, socialist, and naturalist. 

He seems to be the forgotten name every time somebody brings up the study of evolution. Often, the study is even called only Darwin’s theory today. Still, Darwin and Wallace collaborated on collecting evidence to support the scientific efforts on the research.


10. Lise Meitner (Nuclear Fission)

Image source: https://medium.com/

She and her nephew, Otto Robert Frish, another physicist, are responsible for discovering nuclear fission. The interaction between thorium and neutrons, which produce isotopes, is called a “splitting process.” The phenomenon was later called “fission” when Frish collaborated with a chemist, Otto Hahn, who gave its official name.

Regrettably, Meitner wasn’t credited with the honor of discovering nuclear fission. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given only to Hahn. Nevertheless, Meitner received other honors and awards in both physics and chemistry.


Famous scientists and their discoveries

There are scientists whose body of work sticks to their names to this day. For example, we know Galileo’s telescope, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, Henry Ford’s car, and so forth. They are some of the more famous names in science and technology.

However, there were others whose fates weren’t the same. The top ten list above is only some of the unlucky scientists whose science died when they did. Or worse, their discoveries were credited to someone else. 

As we know it today, the world wouldn’t be as advanced if not for the scientists’ hard work and dedication. They are considered the true driving force of civilization. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute is one with the world in thanking these geniuses for their inventions and experiments. 

Their contributions transform our way of living and continue to preserve humanity and our environment today. Our lives are more modern and more accessible because of them. Thanks to their research and discoveries, their legacy lives on and truly changes the world. Hats off to our scientists who make human life and existence more meaningful and convenient even for years to come.

Top ten progressive scientists

Top Ten Progressive Scientists

The way we live today is a product of many scientific progress and technological advances from the scientists before us. Thanks to their inventions and discoveries, they help in human’s chances of survival today and in years to come. 

Many of the benefits that we enjoy these days started only from the imagination and aspirations of these progressive scientists. Some went on to do extensive research while others shared their ideas to the rest of the world to pave the way for the next generation to explore. 

For instance, medicines are available today because they have gone through clinical trials and testing. Doctors can prescribe them to the public because they have confidence in their effectiveness. 

Additionally, schools and workplaces now have better access to information with the help of computers and faster internet. We can also see hope in saving our natural resources and seeing more biodiverse marine sanctuaries in the future because scientists pursue preserving them.

In this article, we recognize progressive scientists in various fields of sciences namely biology, physics, engineering, computer science, and chemistry. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute curated the list below to showcase some of the greatest contributions from these living legends.

Famous living scientists

The first five (5) scientists in this list are selected for their life’s work impacting this day and age. These progressive scientists are in the areas of physics, medicine, computer science and engineering, humanities, and biology.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Image source: https://physicsworld.com/

Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein has written a revolutionary book that smoothly integrates almost two far, and incomparable topics – Black-feminism, physics and anti-colonial theory. 

Prescod-Weinstein, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is a core member of the faculty in the University of New Hampshire. Her theoretical physics research explored cosmology, particles and neutron stars way above the standard model. 

This unorthodox scientist may be a theoretical researcher by practice, but she’s also passionate about the intersection of particle physics and astrophysics. The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, is her well-known science book that provides a holistic take on particle physics and cosmology. 

Adi Utarini

Image source: https://www.magzter.com/

The world may have shifted its attention on the Covid-19 pandemic, but Adi Utarini didn’t forget a global issue that has been a problem for the longest time – the dengue fever.

Dubbed as the mosquito commander, Adi is a public-health researcher who piloted the trial of a technology that aims to end dengue fever. 

Together with her team, the scientist and her colleagues devised a plan by modifying and releasing mosquitos that would stop the transmission of the virus. The said experiment resulted in a 77% decrease in the cases of dengue fever in a large city in Indonesia. 

The study was so successful that epidemiologists commended its staggering result – which has been a long overdue win against the virus. This is a relief to lower-income countries like Africa, Asia and South America. 

Timothy Berners-Lee

Image source: https://webfoundation.org/

Nowadays, it seems like we can’t live without the internet and the world wide web. Timothy Berners-Lee is the computer scientist behind the invention of the World Wide Web as we know it. He is the genius who explored the idea to make the Web available, usable, and valuable to all. 

Lee built the first website at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in August, 1991. Heralded as one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th Century’, his visionary and innovative work changed the internet landscape that continues to shape our lives to this day.

Sir Tim Beners-Lee is one of five internet and web pioneers in the world. He is dedicated to protecting the future of the web as a basic right for public good globally. 

When he said one of his quotable tweets, “This is for everyone,” that truly captured his heart and vision. Lee is also an A.M. Turing Award winner and Internet Hall of Famer. 

Jane Goodall

Image source: https://www.kuow.org/

Jane Goodall is a British ethologist who has done exceptional research on the chimpanzees of Tanzania even sans academic training. Her interest in animal behavior started as a kid when she quit school and became a secretary at 18.

Jane stayed in the wild to observe chimpanzees. Her time there allowed her to make notable remarks that challenged conventional scientific theories about the said mammal, especially on their ability to make complex social interactions. 

Goodall’s stint as a film production assistant gave her the passage to Africa, and it became an opportunity for her to assist Louis Leakey, a paleontologist and anthropologist.

As a legendary conservationist, scientist, and humanitarian, Jane has made groundbreaking discoveries that contributed to humankind.  

Elizabeth Blackburn

Image source: https://www.ucsf.edu/

Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn is known for her revolutionary anti-aging research. This molecular biologist discovered how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme that replenishes the structure called telomerase.

She is committed to public service in academic and scientific areas like serving as president of the American Association of Cancer Research. Blackburn also helps in public science policies as a legislature member of the Stem Cell Research Advisory Panel in California.

Blackburn was born to a family of doctors and was always exposed to the sciences. To this day, she continues to serve in prestigious scientific societies namely National Academy of Medicine, Royal Society of London, and National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists during Covid-19

The next five (5) scientists are selected for their scientific research as well as their impact on attending to the urgency of the covid-19 outbreak.

The world has to overcome many impossibilities that, consequently, led to scientific breakthroughs on a global scale. The battle to flatten the curve all over the world is still quite far from sight. However, we can see that many countries have efficient protocols that we can all learn from.

Here’s a list of notable, progressive scientists with groundbreaking contributions today:

Gonzalo Moratorio

Image source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/

Uruguay is one of the few countries in Latin America that records low mortality rate due to covid-19. Gonzalo Moratorio and his team made this possible. They designed a homegrown covid test that helps their national program in flattening the curve in their region.

As a result, people call Moratorio the “coronavirus hunter” due to his evolutionary and molecular virology expertise. He is also one of Nature’s 10 people who helped shape science in 2020

Moratorio is hopeful that the coronavirus outbreak won’t be here forever and things can soon go back to normal. Other countries should also do more evidence-based research as a guide in government responses to stop the rising cases locally.

Kathrin Jansen

Image source: https://www.lohud.com/

Jansen is the head of Pfizer’s vaccine research and development team. She and other progressive scientists toiled on doing the testing and clinical trials in record-breaking speed. Pfizer managed to provide a safe and effective vaccine to make it available in the US and globally.

She is data-driven, diligent, relentless. These extraordinary qualities led to the team’s success in solving logistical problems they encountered along the way. Jansen’s history of defying odds while remaining down to earth makes all her accomplishments even more admirable.

Zhang Yongzhen 

Image source: https://www.bbc.com/

Another virologist, this time from Shanghai, is one of the first few scientists who studied the pathogen sample in January 2020. Zhang’s team identified the genome sequence that many laboratories all over the world later used in developing vaccines. 

Had Zhang decided not to post the genome sequence online, countries would have been more relaxed due to lack of knowledge of the novel virus. Covid-19 would have spread faster and killed more people if that were so.  

With Zhang’s findings, health officials all over the world acted with urgency in placing biosafety protocols in their respective jurisdictions. There is also now a network of laboratories in China, as a result, to monitor emergence of new virus strains. 

Li Lanjuan

Image source: en.people.c

Wuhan shut down at the earliest possible signs of the covid-19 outbreak. This is all thanks to Li Lanjuan, China’s epidemiologist who enforced aggressive protocols to close their borders. She was quick to execute measures in preventing the virus from spreading outside Wuhan.

Lanjuan’s lockdown architect leadership avoided any further economic collapse in the whole country and neighboring regions. This plan didn’t get high praises though as expected. She received a lot of unhappy criticisms due to many residents not getting enough medical care, etc. Yet, she tirelessly worked hard to contain the virus. 

Lanjuan, with support from China’s administration, had to make this tough call. But, in a novel epidemic of this scope, she took bold steps in locking down the city even if it’s the unpopular choice. 

Anthony Fauci

Image source: https://time.com/

Anthony Fauci is an American infectious disease researcher. He became the US government’s advisor and communicator on the national efforts and policies about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Despite his leadership experience in the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), he had conflicts with then President Donald Trump on his recommendations about the outbreak.

Fauci’s determination is to educate the public and officials about the science behind covid-19 according to epidemiologists and health professionals. His unwavering resolve greatly helped to curb rising numbers of positive cases in the country.

However, because elected leaders tend to downplay the severity of the virus, many threatened Fauci’s security. He doesn’t stop in his mission to educate, regardless, to save people’s lives and help lower rates of covid transmission.

Scientists who changed the world

As the world faces new challenges everyday, we also see the rise of new generations of geniuses and leaders in the sciences. 

Still, we are grateful to the likes of Stephen Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, and Thomas Edison. They are the inspiration of many younger, progressive scientists today who are advancing medicine, math, as well as, social sciences.

That said, we can not take science for granted. The conveniences we experience today are often the result of many scientists’ vision for a better world.

Our modes of transportation and communication are better because of many years of hard work from progressive scientists. We have access to electricity and running water, for example, because of research and studies done in laboratories. 

Who are your favorites? Do you know other living scientists who didn’t make the list?

References:
https://thebestschools.org/magazine/most-influential-scientists/
https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/the-10-greatest-scientists-of-all-time
https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/top-ten-greatest-scientists-alive-today
https://www.nature.com/immersive/d41586-020-03435-6/index.html