1. Joined
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    31 Jul '08 14:49
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
  2. Joined
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    31 Jul '08 15:13
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
    Isaac Newton would certainly be very high on the list of "most influential scientists of all time". He was the forerunner of theoretical physics, and his laws of motion were used as the basis for a very, very, large proportion of physics that we still use today! For example, the classical kinetic theory of gases is entirely based on considering particles as solid object that obey Newton's laws.

    Newton was largely responsible for developing the scientific method, in an age when superstition and tradition ruled he did very well.

    As for his views on Alchemy, we must consider them in context. He lived in the 1600 - 1700 hundreds, over 300 years ago! At this time there was no formal science at all, no chemistry, no understanding of how particles interact or even that particles were made of atoms. So viewed in context of the almost total lack of understanding, Alchemy did not seem silly or illogical at all, infact it would have seemed very interesting to someone of Newton's vast intelligence.

    Another point is that it wasn't until the mid 1900's that any amendments were made to his laws of motion - thats 300 years! Plus he had to practically "invent" calculus to get his laws.

    HOWEVER, I dont think there can be any single person deemed the most influential scientist. As all science is based on what has come before it. Even Newton's laws were based on the work of Kepler.

    I think it would be better to have a "group of scientists responsible for increasing our understanding of the universe".

    Saying that, Newton is a very good candidate for "best scientist" simply because he was so much ahead of his time. The other "great scientists" most people can think of (Einstein, Lorentz, Plank, Boltzman,Maxwell,Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac, Fermi to name just a few) all lived HUNDREDS of years after Newton. Newton really was a blazing light in the deep ignorance of the distant past (distant in terms of scientific understanding that is).
  3. Joined
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    31 Jul '08 15:21
    Originally posted by MattP
    Isaac Newton would certainly be very high on the list of "most influential scientists of all time". He was the forerunner of theoretical physics, and his laws of motion were used as the basis for a very, very, large proportion of physics that we still use today! For example, the classical kinetic theory of gases is entirely based on considering particles as ...[text shortened]... rance of the distant past (distant in terms of scientific understanding that is).
    A head of his time? Both he and Leibniz invented the calculus simultaneously...
  4. Joined
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    31 Jul '08 15:25
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
    I vote for Newton too.

    Carl von Linneus had the same idea that Darwin had, but before him. When he was cataloguing plants and animals he was struck by the linearity of his specimens. He could order from less developed to more developed. He had teh idea that things evolved into things better off with its environment. But he decided to lay low for the sake of the church. Darwin didn't, even if he hesitated a lot.

    Newton, on the other hand, found out things that was not at all obvious, sometimes counter-intuitive. He was also an all-round genius. Darwin was more limited.

    I vote for Newton of these two.
  5. Joined
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    31 Jul '08 18:59
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
    I don't think Dawkins would qualify myself.

    I would think Galileo, Copernicus or Kepler would be up there, but Newton definitely is a big one.

    Einstein would be up there too.

    Part of the problem with deciding this is that, to paraphrase Newton, they have all seen further by standing on the shoulders of giants.

    Science is advanced by each discovery standing upon the other. Newton couldn't have made his discoveries without the discoveries of those that came before him.. and so on.
  6. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    31 Jul '08 19:471 edit
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
    What actual original science has Dawkins done? I'm not sure he even counts as a scientist.

    Is this about Darwin or Dawkins?
  7. weedhopper
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    31 Jul '08 20:01
    I saw a program that aired in 2000 called "the most influential people of the last millenium, and I believe Darwin finished higher than Einstein and Newton. They were all in the top 10 though, and the list encompassed all fields, not just science.
  8. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    31 Jul '08 20:10
    Originally posted by PinkFloyd
    I saw a program that aired in 2000 called "the most influential people of the last millenium, and I believe Darwin finished higher than Einstein and Newton. They were all in the top 10 though, and the list encompassed all fields, not just science.
    Darwin may have been influential politically and socially, but Newton got man on the moon.
  9. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    31 Jul '08 20:26
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Darwin may have been influential politically and socially, but Newton got man on the moon.
    He also reformed the British Mint, helping the British Empire become more efficient at what it did.
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    31 Jul '08 21:12
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    What actual original science has Dawkins done? I'm not sure he even counts as a scientist.

    Is this about Darwin or Dawkins?
    Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and definitely trained as a scientist. I don't think he actively does research though.

    He is now a professor of the public understanding of science (or something like that) so he's only a scientist in that he is very knowledgable about it.

    I would bet he does keep up on current research, etc.. but his primary function is to teach I believe.
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    31 Jul '08 21:18
    Originally posted by PsychoPawn
    Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and definitely trained as a scientist. I don't think he actively does research though.

    He is now a professor of the public understanding of science (or something like that) so he's only a scientist in that he is very knowledgable about it.

    I would bet he does keep up on current research, etc.. but his primary function is to teach I believe.
    I don't see him as particular influential. Certainly not "most influential scientist of all time".
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    31 Jul '08 21:23
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    I don't see him as particular influential. Certainly not "most influential scientist of all time".
    I completely agree.

    I think his main strength is that he is eloquent in many ways and could do very well in getting people to understand science better and hence increase the scientific literacy in the world.

    He definitely hasn't reached a point where I'd say he's gotten all that influential though. In order to come close he'd have to cause some sort of revolution of the attitudes towards science or something like that.
  13. Subscribersonhouse
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    31 Jul '08 22:432 edits
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    I saw an advert for a TV program the other day. In this advert it claimed that Dawkins was the "most influential scientist of all time". I immediately started to wonder. Personally, I think this is completely wrong. Probably Newton should takethis crown. But then, he was interested in alchemy...

    So, does anyone else have any opinions?
    Did you mean Darwin? Dawkins is certainly a scientist but best known for his nickname 'Darwin's Rottweiler' for his staunch defense of Darwin.
    I think maybe you just typed Dawkins instead of Darwin. Freudian slip, looks like to me.
    Darwin would be on the top ten list mainly because of the all the Christians he shook up and still shakes up.
    When you make top ten lists you have to look at the variety of the scientific achievements of the individual in question.
    So there were genius types all around, like Archimedes who revolutionized so many fields in mathematics and engineering. It is said the Antikathera mechanism was designed by Archimedes or one of his students.
    Then even before him was Imotep If I spelled that right. He single-handedly started the ideas of modern medicine and research, making notes as to the effectiveness of medicines he used and following through with his reports. That was something like 3 thousand years ago in ancient Egypt.
    Then you have people like Young, Sir Wheatstone, Maxwell, Bohr or Michelangelo who was hundreds of years ahead of his time.
    Then of course there is Newton, who co-invented calculus and made groundbreaking discoveries in optics, the newtonian telescope for instance. He also discovered infrared energy by putting a thermometer out in the end of light spread out by a prism. Any one of those things would have put any scientist on the map but when you have books like Principia, which modern day mathemeticians have tried to reproduce and failed to duplicate as eloquently. His law of gravitation was a stunner at the time, not being even modified for 300 years and even today can be used to guide spacecraft to the planets without recourse to Einstein. Big Al as I call him, made major contributions not only to relativity but to proving atoms had to exist analyzing the brownian movement of pollen in water, and predicted the photoelectric effect and designed a lot of machinery on the side like the magnetic refrigerator.
    Its funny that his theory of relativity did not win him his Nobel prize but his work on the photoelectric effect.
  14. Standard memberadam warlock
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    01 Aug '08 08:38
    Originally posted by Swlabr
    A head of his time? Both he and Leibniz invented the calculus simultaneously...
    Leibniz had a better notation but Newton certainlyknew how to use calculus much better than Leibniz. He solved harder and deeper problems with it.
  15. Subscribersonhouse
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    01 Aug '08 09:07
    Originally posted by adam warlock
    Leibniz had a better notation but Newton certainlyknew how to use calculus much better than Leibniz. He solved harder and deeper problems with it.
    Harder! Deeper! YEESS!
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