Why No Famous Scientists or Engineers?

(Bill Gurstelle is guest blogging here on Boing Boing. He is the author of several books including Backyard Ballistics, and the recently published Absinthe and Flamethrowers. Twitter: @wmgurst)

In the blog Notes from the Technology Underground, I present reasons for the relative paucity of famous engineers and scientists.

Back in the 1970's, there were not many famous scientists or engineers, and now, there are almost none. If you disagree, try and name one, right now. Go ahead, try it. Who did you come up with? Carl Sagan? No he's dead. Try again. Stehpen Jay Gould, the Harvard dinosaur guy? No, he's dead too. Hawking? Sure, Stephen Hawking is alive, but he's far more well known for overcoming his disabilities to do great scientific stuff, than for his scientific stuff itself (does anybody really understand "A Brief History of Time?). Perhaps, on odd occasion a autograph seeker stalks MIT's Old Main in hopes of obtaining Marvin Minsky's or Noam Chomsky's signature, but really, very few scientists need bodyguards to keep away the star struck rabble.

On the "Q-Scale" of modern fame where Albert Einstein stars with a 54 and George Takai rates a 1, no living scientist or engineer even makes a blip on the Sulu's radar screen. It's pitiful, but the truth is that no technology related individual, with the exception of Bill Gates, pulls a higher Q score higher than Count Chocula.

The point is there are many, many excellent engineers although the majority of them are not well known outside of their own companies. In fact, the term "famous engineer" is an oxymoron on par with "nondairy creamer", "dry martini", or "jumbo . . . . (continues here.)

sulu lee.jpg

By what percentage do you think Sulu is more well known than the other guy?