I am grateful to many people, organizations and institutions for their help during my research-hauls 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, University of Bern, École Polytechnique Lausanne, École Polytechnique Palaiseau, École Normale Supérieure Lyon, Institut de Hautes Études Scientifiques Bures-sur-Yvette, Pierre & Marie Curie University Paris, University of Milan, Sapienza University of Rome, University of Pisa, University of Bologna, Goethe University Frankfurt, Georg August University Goettigen, Humboldt University Berlin, University of Vienna, Charles University Prague, University of Salamanca, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Southern Queensland, National University of Singapore, South China University of Technology Guangzhou, Wuhan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, University of Mumbai, University of Madras, University of Calcutta, Osaka University, University of Tokyo, Cairo University, Al-Azhar University Cairo, Alexandria University, University of al-Qarawiyyin Fez, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Ghana Accra, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Los Angeles, University of São Paulo, and a host of others. Kindly accept my succinct but heartfelt gratitude, in lieu of the several pages which I know, would be required in order to list and thank you all.
SCOPE AND CRITERIA
Ancient sciences were mostly mathematics, astronomy, medicine and metallurgy. Alchemy was 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 research which saw me visiting over 20 countries (and territories) took more than 15 years to conclude. The rankings were based on merit. My four evaluative criteria (each of which carries 25% of the total assessment points) 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 several revisitations and reassessments) took me years to finalize. Without bothering you with the dour complexities, I will attest 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 each of those defects. Comparative analyses can be arduous. The difficulties I encountered in the course of this work were immense. Notwithstanding, I did gain insights which still thrill me. Apart from visiting so many places, it was exhilarating to behold all those antique manuscripts whose stories inspired me. Thus, I have become even more knowledge-thirsty; and would continue to update both this website and the related pages of wikipedia.org, if I come across new/vital data. For all intents and purposes, sapaviva.com remains an ongoing project: with emphasis on consolidating the contents’ integrity.
Based on the fact that historic injustices permeate our social and professional lives, it was imperative for me to ameliorate their impacts: whenever and wherever possible. Hence, in all instances where capable or promising individuals were systematically hindered: through sabotage, persecution, discrimination, 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, George Washington Carver, Georg Cantor, Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr., and James Joseph Sylvester. I compensated by prioritizing their unhindered talents (such as ingenuity, perseverance, and resourcefulness) over the other ranking criteria which I customarily adhere to.
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. Thus, this website’s contents are presented “as they stand”. 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, my entire research were based on the available (and accessible) 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 glories 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 perceived numerous coincidences during my research, which connected various 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. Two of the world’s most outstanding polymaths, Gottfried von Leibniz and Alhazen Ibn al-Haytham, share the July 1st birthday. Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrlich share the March 14th birthday. Louis Pasteur and Johannes Kepler share the December 27th birthday; whereas Pierre-Simon Laplace and Alessandro Volta died on the same day: which was on Monday the 5th day of March 1827.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION: OPINIONS FROM THE ALL-TIME GREATEST SCIENTISTS
In the course of my research, studies after studies showed that the hackneyed notion that science and religion are in conflict is nonsense. And as I journeyed through the centuries (till today), it became clear that the greatest and the most brilliant scientists were united in their belief in God. Their own emphatic words: starting from the Renaissance era when our modern science began till today, are here to testify. See the facts below: arranged in accordance with the scientific rankings on this website. (Expectedly, all the unranked persons have no web links).
“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors. God created everything by number, weight and measure. I do not define time, space, place, and motion as being well-known to all.” —- ISAAC NEWTON
“Since the fabric of the universe is most perfect and is the work of a most wise God, nothing whatsoever takes place in the universe in which some rules of maxima and minima do not apply.” —- LEONHARD EULER
“Our universe is the best possible one that God could have created. Miracles are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” —- GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ
“There are problems to which I attach greater importance than to those of mathematics; for example, our ethics and relationship to God. Their solution lies beyond the scope of science. I succeeded not because of my own efforts, but by the grace of God.” —- CARL FRIEDRICH GAUSS
“Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it is consistent with the laws of nature. I thank God that I will not rest my dying head upon speculations. Peace is a beautiful gift from God.” —- MICHAEL FARADAY
“Mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe.” —- GALILEO GALILEI
“The gift of mental power comes from God. If we focus our minds on it, we shall be in tune; and thus, benefit from that great gift.” —- NIKOLA TESLA
“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” —- ALBERT EINSTEIN
“Persistence in scientific research leads to what I call instinct for truth. A little bit of science will take you away from God; but more science will bring you back to Him.” —- LOUIS PASTEUR
“I have measured the earth, the skies, and all the planets. Now, let us glorify God through astronomy.” —- JOHANNES KEPLER
“It is not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious. God exists whether we like it or not. Many scientists know this reality. As men who dedicated their lives to science, nobody will mistake us for fantasists.” —- MAX PLANCK
“I am a Christian, which means that I believe in the deity of Christ, like Tycho de Brahe, Copernicus, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Pascal, like all great astronomers and mathematicians.” —- AUGUSTIN-LOUIS CAUCHY
“The only desire which I can have is like David to serve my own generation by the will of God, and then fall asleep.” —- JAMES CLERK MAXWELL
“Of all the created comforts, God is the lender; you are the borrower, not the owner.” —- ERNEST RUTHERFORD
“If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.” —- WILLIAM THOMSON KELVIN
“I believe in God. The question of whether there is a Creator and Ruler of the universe has been affirmatively answered by the highest intellectuals that ever lived.” —- CHARLES DARWIN (The initiator of Evolutionary Theory, who wrote this in his evolutionary biology book titled The Descent of Man)
“God is personal; yet, omnipresent. He is great source of strength: who made an enormous difference to me.” —- CHARLES HARD TOWNES (Provost and Eminent Professor of Quantum Electronics at M.I.T.; Discoverer of Laser Technology; 1964 Nobel Prize winner)
“God is truth. There is no incompatibility between science and religion. Both are seeking the same truth. Science shows that God exists.” —- DEREK BARTON (Regius Professor of Chemistry at Glasgow; 1969 Nobel Prize winner)
“A scientific discovery is a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make.” —- JOSEPH HOOTON TAYLOR Jr. (McDonnell Professor of Physics at Princeton; 1993 Nobel Prize winner)
“God has given us an incredibly fascinating world to live in and explore.” —- WILLIAM DANIEL PHILLIPS (Distinguished Physics Professor at Maryland; 1997 Nobel Prize winner)
“I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene in breaking the laws.” —- STEPHEN HAWKING (Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, whose atheistic antics ceased after he went and received Godly blessings from Pope Benedict XVI)
“We know that nature is described by the best of all possible mathematics because God created it.” —- ALEXANDER MARKOVICH POLYAKOV (Distinguished Physics Professor at Moscow and Princeton)
“The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance, and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws, and responsible for the universe.” —- PAUL DAVIES (Distinguished Physics Professor at London and Cambridge)
“The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory.” —- FRANCIS COLLINS (Eminent Geneticist, Director of USA’s National Institutes of Health, and former atheist)
“Truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose, and it will defend itself.” —- SAINT AUGUSTINE (Bishop of Hippo Regius: i.e. the modern city of Annaba in Algeria, North Africa. He is one of the most brilliant theologians of all time)
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 not graduate from learning, until death comes. Being an independent researcher is my favorite pastime. And the liberty to explore 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, and everything in-between. For a glimpse into my perspectives, click on the following link: https://www.sapaviva.com/the-200-quotes-of-valentine-oduenyi. Thank you for visiting.