Scientists and Thinkers

These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century; nevertheless they often had to face huge obstacles, the ridicule of their peers, and the animosity of society.

Charles Darwin: In his early years, Darwin avoided a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too ‘dreamy’. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.” Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well known for his revolutionary scientific studies.

Albert Einstein: Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but Einstein eventually began to redefine the way we see the world- winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

Robert Goddard: Goddard today is hailed for his research and experimentation with liquid-fueled rockets, but during his lifetime his ideas were often rejected and mocked by his scientific peers who thought they were outrageous and impossible. Today rockets and space travel don’t seem far-fetched at all, due largely in part to the work of this scientist who worked against the notions of his era.

Isaac Newton: Newton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably. So poorly, in fact, that an uncle took charge and shipped him off to Cambridge University to limit his damage. It is there where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.

Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called “an immoral corrupter of youth” and was sentenced to death. Socrates dismissed his critics and continued to teach his ideas, until he was forced to poison himself.

Robert Sternberg: This stalwart in the field of psychology received a “C” in his first college introductory psychology class when his teacher told him that, “There was already a famous Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be another.” Sternberg answered that criticism, graduating from Stanford with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. He eventually became the President of the American Psychological Association. This should inspire students to always strive to succeed, no matter what anyone says along the way.

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