50 Brilliant Minds of the Last 100 Years
Identifying the Mystery of Genius
We sometimes meet people who possess an exceptional brain that is outstanding in its penetration and imagination – a brilliant mind that is completely out of the ordinary. We know these people are exceptional, but most of us would find it hard to explain exactly why. Genius is a thing of great mystery. We call it a gift, yet it is difficult to identify the giver. It is unquantifiable yet the evidence surrounds us. We witness it every day in the books we read, in the museums and art galleries we visit and in the computer technology that has changed all our lives. Change is inevitable, but it does not just happen – it is driven.
The 50 brilliant minds selected for inclusion in this book have all driven change. They are people who have transformed the way we think and have taken the human race a step forward. Many have made breathtaking discoveries. Some have searched long and hard before finding their Eureka! moment. All have done amazing things that have never been done before. Together these 50 people create an explosive and often controversial combination – a gathering of geniuses, each of them representing a very special achievement. But who among them has made the most impact on the world – whose achievement is the greatest of all?
How do we identify a brilliant mind? Einstein, is said to have had an IQ lower than 160, which would exclude him from some lists of geniuses. But a high IQ is not enough on its own. A genius has exceptional intellectual ability, creativity and originality. But he or she must also take determined and persistent action to achieve results. The acid-test has to be achievement.
Selected from the last 100 years, all 50 brilliant minds in this book have brought about change through their great achievements. They represent a wide range of disciplines from literature, architecture and art to astrophysics, mathematics and computers. Many are well-established brilliant minds such as Einstein and Freud, while other minds have been almost overlooked and deserve wider recognition, like Nikola Tesla and Alan Turing. Many have fought adversity, discrimination and disability. Some younger minds included are more unorthodox 21st century choices – Mark Zuckerberg and Nathaniel Dominy represent the changing of the guard.
It has often been assumed that geniuses are a race apart from the rest of us, but, curiously enough, people with brilliant minds are in many ways just like us. The range of human failings that geniuses display may even inspire us ordinary people to try harder. If geniuses, with all their flaws, problems and setbacks, are able to achieve great things, then maybe we too, in our own small way, can aspire to achieve something great.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell • Irving Berlin • Tim Berners-Lee • Niels Bohr • Jorge Luis Borges • Noam Chomsky • Joseph Conrad • Francis Crick • Marie Curie • Miles Davis • Walt Disney • Nathaniel Dominy • Thomas Edison • Albert Einstein • Enrico Fermi • Sigmund Freud • John Kenneth Galbraith • Mohandas Gandhi • Bill Gates • Robert H. Goddard • Stephen Hawking • Martin Heidegger • Grace Hopper • Edwin Hubble • Ali Javan • Steve Jobs • James Joyce • Percy Julian • Carl Jung • John Maynard Keynes • D. H. Lawrence • Le Corbusier • James Lovelock • Nelson Mandela • Henri Matisse • Roger Penrose • Pablo Picasso • Max Planck • Jackson Pollock • Bertrand Russell • Jean-Paul Sartre • Arnold Schoenberg • Igor Stravinsky • Nikola Tesla • Alan Turing • Andy Warhol • Ludwig Wittgenstein • Flossie Wong-Staal • Frank Lloyd Wright • Mark Zuckerberg