physicist, physician, egyptologist
July 30, 2015 11:26 PM   Subscribe

 
Was Young The Smartest Person Ever?

Of course not. The Smartest Person Ever was a Peruvian girl who died age 6 in 857 BCE. Take my word for it, she was smart.
posted by sukeban at 2:26 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


(In a less sarcastic comment, the inclusion of Athanasius Kircher in the list of polymaths of the Smartest Person Ever link --all European men, of course-- is incredibly funny because he managed to be an utter failure in everything from vulcanology to sinology. There's a great biography titled A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change by John Glassie. It is a great read.)
posted by sukeban at 2:33 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


(And because no I can't leave this alone: isn't it funny why nobody cites women like Émilie du Châtelet or Hildegard of Bingen as polymaths, ever? Clearly you have to have the right genitalia to qualify.)
posted by sukeban at 2:45 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


He developed a fundamental measure of elasticity derived from Hooke's law of stress and strain, ...

Wait, he's the Young of "Young's modulus"?
And he was a physician? And did work in linguistics?

That's ... impressive.
posted by sour cream at 3:30 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


isn't it funny why nobody cites women like Émilie du Châtelet or Hildegard of Bingen as polymaths, ever? Clearly you have to have the right genitalia to qualify.

No it isn't and no you don't.

Actually, the very page on Hildegard of Bingen that you link to states that she was polymath. In the first sentence.
posted by sour cream at 3:35 AM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sure. And none of the lists of polymaths in the links in this post mention her or any other woman. Which was my point.
posted by sukeban at 3:48 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Young did a lot of cool stuff, but he was no Leibniz. Almost nobody compares to the big L, except maybe Euler. That Smartest Person Ever essay mentions Leibniz, but doesn't do him justice. Dude basically invented the modern world

What's fascinating about these late-17th century to mid 19th-century polymaths is how much they accomplished. Like, I know they were gentlemen of significant leisure, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in one's life to do all those things. And without amphetamines no less! And while they had to do other stuff with real responsibilities! Leibniz's collected works would take my whole life to read, and he wrote them. Typically, writing takes a lot longer than reading, you'd think. With a pen! You have to imagine that his pen was moving non-stop for 10 hours a day. Dashing off genius on toilet paper.
posted by dis_integration at 5:55 AM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


What's fascinating about these late-17th century to mid 19th-century polymaths is how much they accomplished. Like, I know they were gentlemen of significant leisure, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in one's life to do all those things.

No TV. No Radio. No Internet. Sometimes slower is faster.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:23 AM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Thomas Young" is a hedge-sparrow name: I wonder if his polymathy would be more celebrated if he'd had more of a peacock moniker?
posted by Segundus at 6:37 AM on July 31, 2015


And Young's double-slit experiment.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:33 AM on July 31, 2015


Thoth is the smartest person of all time.
posted by ArticTusk at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2015


Kirchner did invent PowerPoint though.
posted by PHINC at 11:00 AM on July 31, 2015


Was Young The Smartest Person Ever?


Dunno, but I sure run into a lot of people who think they are.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:53 PM on July 31, 2015


Where's Marilyn vos Savant on this smarty smartpants continuum? She's a woman, innt she?
posted by ostranenie at 11:12 PM on August 1, 2015




This is my surprised face at all the polymaths being again manly men with manly bits, but this bit
Young’s biographer, gives the example of Michael Ventris, who died aged 34, having tried to satisfy both his urge to be an architect and also his fascination with codes. Ventris was the first to make sense of Linear B, an early Greek script, but he could not apply himself as successfully to architecture.

“With Michael Ventris, the polymathy gradually des­troyed him,” Robinson says. “He was famous for cracking Linear B, but I believe he was depressed. Architecture was not enough. He was a logician. Linear B took him over. He couldn’t reach the standard he had set in another field, he couldn’t do justice to his own gifts, he couldn’t let it all go and give it up.”
FUCK YOUUUUUUU
posted by sukeban at 3:39 AM on August 9, 2015


(Also, if you're going to put Young as the decipherer of hieroglyphics instead of Champollion, putting Ventris instead of Kober as the one and only decipherer of Linear B is even more of an infinitely shitty move)
posted by sukeban at 3:42 AM on August 9, 2015


« Older Stars in His Pocket Like Grains of Sand   |   Pair of tits? Check. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments