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Historical Mad Scientists
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Historical Mad Scientists

Archimedes

Archimedes of Syracuse was such a legendary mad scientist that even now, thousands of years after his death, he is still well known. He was an astronomer, engineer, mathematician, and physicist. He is perhaps best known for leaping out of a bathtub and running naked down the street in an ecstatic fit shouting “Eureka!” when he suddenly figured out a difficult problem he was working on in hydrostatics.

As an engineer he invented many items of construction equipment, such as the blobk and tackle, and also the Archimedes Screw, which was a new kind of pump that revolutionized agriculture and city building. He also designed and built what was at the time the world's largest ship. He also invented the odometer and many other devices that are common to this day.

But what stands out most about him, perhaps, is the weapons he created. He not only improved the crossbows and catapults that were the best weapons of his day, he also invented a death ray and The Claw of Archimedes. The death ray was a type of solar collector that focused sunlight until it was so intense that it could set fire to enemy ships. The Claw was a type of giant crane that could pick enemy ships right up out of the ocean and smash them. Both of these weapons have been built in modern times using only technology available to him at the time, and were shown to work.

Even more amazingly, he also invented a type of astronomical/navigational computer out of clockworks. Remains of such a computer from his time period have even been found by archaeologists.

“Rise above oneself and grasp the world.” -Archimedes


Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was a famous mad scientist of the Renaissance era. Not only was he a pioneering artist, he was also a scientist who advanced the fields of anatomy, optics, hydrodynamics. He was a mathematician and architect as well, but what he is mostly remembered for is his inventions.

He invented a diving suit that modern engineers said would have worked. He invented a working hang glider and the concentrated solar power generator. He made a robotic suit of armor out of clockwork which has been rebuilt in modern times from his plans and been found to be capable of movement. He invented the steam cannon, the tank, and many other bizarre city defenses (one of which involved the speed-flooding of the city to wash away enemy troops). He also invented the helicopter. His designs for that wouldn't have worked, but he got many of the fundamental principles correct. He also created the clockwork calculator, hydraulic pumps, and many more things besides.

Gotz of the Iron Hand (Gotz von Berlichingen)

Called “the German Robin Hood”, Sir Gotz lost his hand in a war. This would have ended the careers of most warrior of the time, but not so for a mind like his. Instead Sir Gotz invented a prosthetic hand, made with springs and catches and straps, that was so sensitive that it could hold reins, weapons, playing cards, and a quill, and could be used for writing. With it he continued to fight, write, and gamble to the ripe old age of 81.

He is also known as the inventor of the phrase “Kiss my ass,” during a war.

Nikola Tesla

Tesla is perhaps the most well-know mad scientist in modern times. Not only did he make many strange inventions, he was incredibly eccentric, dressing in opera clothes at all times. He was prone to powerful visionary states wherein he saw designs of new inventions.

Living around the turn of the twentieth century, he basically invented modern electrical technology. He also invented the radio, the induction motor, the bladeless turbine, spark plugs, and electronic logic gates, but he was much more famous for his more extreme inventions.

He also invented a kind of robot he called a telautomaton, which was a kind of boat driven by a primitive artificial intelligence that prevented it from being hacked. He built a lightning bolt generator and a death ray that some claim was responsible for the Tunguska Blast. During his studies of resonance he built an electro-mechanical resonance machine that started an earthquake in the city around him. When the police arrived to ask him to stop it he had to use a sledgehammer, as it wouldn't stop.

His most ambitious project, however, was to infuse the whole earth and atmosphere with energy, to provide free power for everyone. However, he could find no financial backers for such a project. He also claimed to have discovered a Grand Unified Theory for physics, but died before he could publish it.

"You see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which will do the laborious work of the human race." (Quote upon demonstrating his first telautomatons.)

Head Transplanters

In the last hundred years or so there have been the repeated creation of medical chimeras, which are creatures made up of parts of more than one animal. Two-headed dogs were created by Charles Guthrie in 1908 and Vladimir Demikhov in the 1950’s. The head of one monkey was transplanted onto the body of another by Robert J White in 1963 and again in 2001. Two headed rats were recently created in Japan.

Dr. Ure and Professor Jeffray

These two mad doctors experimented in the nineteenth century in the reanimation of the dead using electricity. In 1818 they used electricity to give the corpse of Matthew Clydesdale, a convicted murderer, animation Galvanically. They did not think the procedure would lead to reanimated consciousness, but believed they had discovered the spark of life. They were part of the basis for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.