• Question: If you could go back in time and meet any famous scientist who would it be and why?

    Asked by emma1997 to David, James, Mike, Suze, Will on 21 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by alamin.
    • Photo: Mike Dodd

      Mike Dodd answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Hey Emma, If I could go back in time, I would love to chat to Charles Darwin after he published “On the Origin of Species”. I would ask him how he coped with being treated like an outcast for his book and theory of evolution? How at the time he could be laughed at for suggesting that humans could have evolved from apes and that we might just be animals. It was a bold theory to make at the time. I would also ask him if he regretted anything about his book? How about you?

    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      Hi Emma!

      I would love to go back in time and meet Galileo. He is often called the ‘father of science’, and it was his incurable curiosity that made him question everything, and find out why things happened. He was the first to propose that the Earth actually went around the Sun, rather than the Universe revolving around Earth, but the Church said that he was speaking against them and their religious beliefs, and so he had a lot against him.

      He had a hand in maths, physics, astronomy, loads of things. I’d love to lie back on a lovely Italian hillside with him, share a bottle of Italian wine, look up at the stars and find out more about his fascination with wanting to find answers to everything. And I guess to let him know that he’s so highly regarded in the modern world.

      I think I’d probably also inform him of his five star appearances in Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen too. There’s surely no higher honour than to have Freddie Mercury scream your name in falsetto during one of the best pieces of music ever written πŸ™‚

    • Photo: David Ingram

      David Ingram answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      Hi Emma,

      I’d like to meet two different people. One because I admire his work and the other for fun, both are Mathematicians.

      For fun I’d like to meet de Cart – the inventor of Cartesian coordinates and the man who said “I Think therefore I am”. He got so fed up with people disturbing him in paris that he moved to a remote part of the Netherlands so he could spend all day in bed thinking! When the disturbances still grew too much he ran off an joined one of the armies in the 30 years war so he could get some peace and quiet!!!

      The Scientist I’d like to meet is Leonhard Euler (pronouced oiler) 1707-1783. Euler was a swiss mathematician and physicist. He worked on fluid mechanics and (in 1757) wrote down what he believed were the equations that describe the exact motion of all fluids (he was wrong because they didn’t know about the internal friction in the fluid we call viscosity – but we didn’t know until the 1890’s). He worked on calculus and graph theory and on mechanics, optics and astronomy.

      Although he was Swiss, Euler spent most of his life in St Petersburg and in Berlin. He was one of the most prolific ever mathematicians (possibly on Gauss did more work) and his collected works extend to more than 60 volumes. Laplace (another great mathematician) said “Read Euler, he is our teacher in all things”.

      He even tried to develop a mathematical theory for the appreciation of music.

      He has appeared on bank notes (like Newton) and has an asteroid named after him!

    • Photo: James Marrow

      James Marrow answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      I’d go for Robert Hooke (http://www.roberthooke.org.uk/)

      Although famous now for one of the most boring equations you’ll meet in physics (Hooke’s law on springs!), he did loads of other stuff and must have had a great imagination. By all accounts he wasn’t always the easiest person to get on with, perhaps he was an earlier version of Sheldon in the Big Bang! πŸ™‚

      By the way, boring though it may seem to be, Hooke’s law is one of the most important equations in engineering

    • Photo: William Eborall

      William Eborall answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hi Emma. I think I’d like to meet Kary Mullis (he’s still alive). This man won a Nobel prize in chemistry for developing a technique called the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This is a technique which allows us to copy a piece of DNA billions of times in the lab in about 2 hours. It is used by thousands of scientists all over the world for lots of different things but one of the most famous uses of it is for forensic DNA fingerprinting. The technology used to sequence the human genome and to identify criminals wouldn’t have been imagined if it weren’t for this man’s works.