A Brief History of Mad Scientists
June 8, 2011 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Jess Nevins, author and librarian presents a History of Mad Scientists (both real and literary) in two parts: Alchemists, Astronomers, and Wild Men (part 1), and Organ Theft and the Insanity of Geniuses (part 2: the Industrial Age).

They are posted on io9, which is still subject to the Gawker & Co redesign, so I linked to the mobile versions. The original versions can be seen by removing the m. in front of those links, or clicking on the following links: part one, part two.
posted by filthy light thief (20 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

I have more rocket scientist friends then you, crustation.
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2011

I am so going to read these.
posted by oddman at 11:45 AM on June 8, 2011

Alchemists sure, but are there any shit wizards?
posted by stinkycheese at 12:07 PM on June 8, 2011

Jervis On Coroners

from Brown and Tullets' Bernard Spilsbury.

“Among the original functions of the coroner, as custos placitorium coronæ, or keeper of the Kings Pleas, was the collection of certain chance revenues due to the Crown, such as “chattels of felons, deodands, wrecks, royal fish and treasure trove””.
posted by clavdivs at 12:08 PM on June 8, 2011

My favourite thing by Jess Nevins was the guides to Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes 1 & 2. His now defunct - Geocities Guide to Victoriana was pretty damned amazing as well. That man's knowledge is encyclopedic.
posted by longbaugh at 12:11 PM on June 8, 2011

but are there any shit wizards?

Well, there are the Laputan scientists who were "reducing human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off the saliva'"...

That sounds like shit wizardry to me.
posted by hippybear at 12:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Related reading: Screams Of Reason: Mad Science And Modern Culture.
posted by ovvl at 12:52 PM on June 8, 2011

That man's knowledge is encyclopedic.

Especially since he wrote the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.

Jess is a friend of mine from the Usenet days. Good to see him on the blue.
posted by cereselle at 1:14 PM on June 8, 2011

Forgot to say, he's also one of the people who made me become a librarian.
posted by cereselle at 1:14 PM on June 8, 2011

Pfft, if he thinks Agatha Heterodyne (of Girl Genius) isnt a Mad Scientist, he hasnt been paying attention to the comic. Today's for example.

Also, what about real historical figures like, say John Dee or Count Saint-Germaine. Scientists, scholars, alchemists, magicians, musicians, these two, for example, were the 17th and 18th Centuries example of real mad scientists, trying to combine magic with the burgeoning discipline of science. They maybe didn't create a Frankenstein monster, but they were alternately admired and reviled.
posted by elendil71 at 1:17 PM on June 8, 2011

Jess is a friend of mine from the Usenet days. Good to see him on the blue.

I was thinking exactly the same thing.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2011

Mad scientists? More like terrorists!
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on June 8, 2011

I knew Jess in college and he's not only one of the smartest and funniest men you will ever meet, he can run an RPG campaign like no other. His books are fantastic and he himself is as fine a human being as ever I've met. Hurray for his work getting additional attention!
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:08 PM on June 8, 2011

They'll take away my liver of sulfur when they pry it from my cold dead hands!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:18 AM on June 9, 2011

Jess is like the Chuck Norris of librarians.
He once entertained my then toddler son by zooming him around Simmons in his stroller so I could get some much needed schoolwork done on a Saturday.
He photocopied all the notes from Alan Smith's Reference class and drove to my house in RI to help me study for the exam.
He came to my wedding and brought said son a vintage Star Wars lunchbox to distract him from all the boring grownup stuff.
Whenever I see his name pop up in my twitter or Facebook feeds I smile in anticipation.
Yay, Jess!
posted by Biblio at 5:58 AM on June 9, 2011

This is fantastic, thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 8:15 AM on June 9, 2011

I missed this post when it happened and only noticed it on a backscroll through the front page. Jess is a cool guy and I'll nth the sentiment that it's great to see him getting some love here.
posted by immlass at 5:40 PM on June 12, 2011

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