The Worst And The Brightest

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He Won for What?
ALBERT EINSTEIN
A befuddled academy honored the physicist in 1921, not for his paradigm-shifting theory of relativity but for lesser work on the photoelectric effect.

C Is for Chemistry
LINUS PAULING
He won the Nobel in Chemistry in 1954. Eight years later, for his role in bringing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the table, he won another for Peace. But his scientific standing took a hit when he began advocating huge doses of Vitamin C to ward off cancer.

Better Late Than Never
SUBRAHMANYAN CHANDRASEKHAR
He fell prey to international ridicule and was dubbed a fool in the early 1930s for postulating the existence of black holes. A half-century later, he got his due: a Nobel in Physics in 1983.

The Oldest Laureate
FRANCIS PEYTON ROUS
In 1966, at a tottering age 87, he finally won the prize in Medicine, no less than 56 years after discovering cancer-causing viruses in chickens.

The Peacemakers
Two American Presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize--Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Two others are still dearly hoping to win: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Four other winners have, over time, been both lauded for their accomplishments and cursed for their failings: Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Yasser Arafat and Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu, whose harrowing tales of suffering have since been called into question.

Prize Racist
WILLIAM SHOCKLEY
A 1956 winner in Physics for his part in inventing the transistor, he went on to espouse white genetic superiority and to donate, at age 70, to a "Nobel" sperm bank.

Nobel Pederast
DANIEL CARLETON GAJDUSEK
In 1976 he won in Medicine for studies in the South Pacific on "slow viruses." Twenty-one years later, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually abusing a teenage boy he brought back from the islands.

He Only Looks Like Kato
KARY MULLIS
After a 1993 win in Chemistry for inventing the PCR gene-copying technique, Mullis became a beach bum, a surfer and nearly a witness for O.J. Simpson. He also took a lot of LSD.

The Founder
ALFRED NOBEL
You'd think a man who loved peace, wrote poetry and invented dynamite would have already left his mark on the world. But then Nobel bequeathed his famous prize and bought himself another century of fame.

A Mad Genius
JOHN FORBES NASH JR.
He won in Economics in 1994, at age 66, more than four decades after his brilliant work in the field of game theory. The academy was reluctant to honor him earlier because he had spent most of those intervening years wandering around the Princeton University campus, a paranoid schizophrenic. He was given the Nobel a few years into his recovery.

Short-Lived Victory
WILLIAM VICKREY
Awarded the prize in Economics for the theory of incentives, the Columbia University professor died in 1996, at age 82, three days after learning he had won.

Young Whippersnapper
CARL DAVID ANDERSON
A native New Yorker, Anderson discovered antimatter and won the prize in Physics in 1936, at a precocious 31.

THREE WHO SHOULD NEVER HAVE WON
Johannes Fibiger, who won in Medicine in 1926 for discovering a parasite that supposedly caused cancer (it didn't); Antonio Moniz, who won a dubious prize in Medicine in 1949 for the invention of the prefrontal lobotomy; Julius Wagner von Jauregg, left, who made it his mission to cure mental disease by inducing fever. He won in Medicine in 1927 for treating dementia by infecting patients with malaria.

FOUR WHO SHOULD HAVE WON BUT WERE OVERLOOKED
Thomas Alva Edison, who was the archetypal all-around American genius (electric light, phonograph, microphone); Jocelyn Bell, who first spotted pulsars but didn't share the prize won by her professor; C.H. Best, who did key work in isolating insulin (the prizewinners, two senior professors, were so shamed that they shared the loot with Best); Nikola Tesla, who discovered the rotating magnetic field.

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