I am grateful to many people, organizations and institutions for their help during my researches which culminated in this publication. My profound appreciation goes to the libraries, archives and research centers of the following institutions: University of Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, University of Basel, University of Geneva, École Polytechnique Lausanne, École Polytechnique Palaiseau, École Normale Supérieure Lyon, Pierre & Marie Curie University Paris, University of Milan, Sapienza University Rome, University of Pisa, University of Bologna, Humboldt University Berlin, Goethe University Frankfurt, Georg August University Goettigen, University of Vienna, Charles University Prague, University of Salamanca, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Southern Queensland, National University of Singapore, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Los Angeles, and a host of others. Kindly accept my succinct but heartfelt gratitude in lieu of the several pages which I know would be required to list and thank you all.
SCOPE AND CRITERIA
Ancient sciences were mostly mathematics, astronomy, medicine and metallurgy. Alchemy was an adventurous pseudoscience: pursued in the hope of economic guerdons. Before the 19th century, those core sciences we know now as physics, chemistry and biology were collectively referred to as natural philosophy. Only their applied forms (such as medicine and engineering) were clearly demarcated. This project traversed the entire fields of pure and applied sciences: dating from the Mesopotamian era to the dawn of 21st century AD. In other words, the 5000 years between 3000 BC and 2000 AD. As highlighted in the Introduction, my researches which saw me visiting over 20 countries (and territories) took more than 15 years to conclude. The rankings were based on merit. My criteria are: overall ability, versatility, productivity and developmental influences. These are no doubt ideal. But sieving-out thousands of worthy contenders was, to say the least, onerous. Hence, this compilation (including revisits and reassessments) took me years to finalize. Without bothering you with the dour complexities, I will hint that (based on my experiences) assessments like these are abraded with inherent defects. But at the same time, they evince statistical accuracies which enhance validity by diluting those imperfections. Comparative analyses can be arduous. The difficulties I encountered in the course of this work were immense. Notwithstanding, I did gain insights which thrill me till this day. It was exhilarating to behold several ancient manuscripts whose stories inspired me as a lad. Thus, I have become even more knowledge-thirsty; and would be updating this website if I come across new/vital data. For all intents and purposes, sapaviva.com is an ongoing project with emphasis on accuracy and precision.
In the few instances where capable and promising individuals were systematically hindered: through persecution, discrimination, sabotage, etc., the circumstances of such hindrances were taken into account during my evaluations. Examples of those affected are: Hypatia of Alexandria, Marie Curie, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Galileo Galilei, Georg Cantor, George Washington Carver, Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr., and James Joseph Sylvester. I compensated by prioritizing their unhindered talents, such as ingenuity, perseverance and resourcefulness, over other ranking criteria.
Although I did my best in ranking those scientists (and mathematicians) as they deserved, I admit that it is practically impossible to obtain complete information on their respective lives and works. Therefore, you must condone any shortcoming therein. It is always difficult to comparatively rank people or things; and, I do not claim perfection of any sort. Notwithstanding, I conducted my researches based on the available facts; neither hypes nor myths were allowed any role.
UNSUNG HEROES AND COINCIDENCES
Maths and astronomy are the oldest sciences. Prior to European ascendancy, the ancient empires of Egypt, Babylon, China, India, Japan, Persia, Arabia, Maya, Inca, Aztec, Kush and Western Sudan dominated these sciences. But it is unfortunate that much of the intellectual glory went to their emperors and kings; instead of the geniuses who drove the civilizations. As a result, little is known about them: thereby making it impossible to assess and rank them. Also, I noticed coincidences during my researches, which connected some scientists. For example, the two female pioneers of Radioactive Chemistry and Nuclear Physics, Marie Curie and Lise Meitner, share the November 7th birthday. Claude Bernard, Wilhelm Roentgen and Joseph Lister, all of whom advanced medical science, died on the 10th day of February. Emmy Noether, Wernher von Braun and Pierre-Simon Laplace share the March 23rd birthday. Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrlich share the March 14th birthday. Louis Pasteur and Johannes Kepler share the December 27th birthday; whereas Alessandro Volta and Pierre-Simon Laplace died on the same day: which was on Monday the 5th day of March 1827.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Valentine Oduenyi. I live in Switzerland, and enjoy learning. My four degrees from four universities in three continents are just for official purposes. I consider myself a perpetual student, who will never graduate from learning, until death comes. Being an independent researcher, with the liberty to venture into various fields, is invigorating. Perhaps, that is why studying is a lot more intriguing to me now than when I was at school. As an omnivore, I consume Sciences, Arts, Commerce, and everything in-between. With regards to social media, you can find me only on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/voduenyi. So, be aware that any “Valentine Oduenyi” you see on WhatsApp, Twitter or Snapchat is not me. Nothing against anyone: it’s just that I have no account there, and wish to soothe any snag of mistaken identity. For a glimpse into my perspectives, click on http://www.sapaviva.com/the-150-quotes-of-valentine-oduenyi. Thank you!