While journeying through some of the facts that we have rummaged from the excerpts of history, related to the lives of some of the finest minds who made lasting impact on multiple fields, you will unfailingly witness the strength of their nerves, their devotion, their passion, sheer hard work, their ability to transform failures into glorious stories of success,the vastness of their vision enabling them to be their own leaders, their unremitting courage and their fine expertness seasoned with time and determination.
Most people know Bill Gates because of his immense wealth, as the owner of the renowned Microsoft, or as a philanthropist. Gates, a Weezer fan who owns a Porsche collection, got into Harvard scoring a 1590 out of 1600 but he dropped out later.
He had a passion for coding since childhood. As a teen at Lakeside Prep School, Gates wrote his first computer program on a General Electric computer. It was a version of tic-tac-toe where you could play against the machine. Once his school discovered his coding abilities, they let him write the school’s computer program for scheduling students in classes, where he slyly altered the code so that he was placed in classes with a disproportionate number of interesting girls.
Gates is an avid reader and during his teenage years he read the series of “World Book Encyclopedia”. Besides, he reads around 50 books each year.
Despite his immense wealth, Gates says that his kids will inherit only $10 million each, which is just a fraction of his $81.1 billion net worth. “Leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them,” he once said.
He also shared once that one of his biggest regret is that he does not know any foreign languages. Gates once also shared that if Microsoft hadn’t worked out, he probably would have been a researcher for artificial intelligence. However, despite his interest in AI, Gates reflects a concern about super intelligence, like many other notable scientists, including Stephen Hawking.
Jobs’ vision sparked the revolution in technology and made Apple an icon of American business. The adopted son of a Mountain View machinist, Steve Jobs showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry. While in high school, he boldly called Hewlett Packard, co-founder and president William Hewlett to ask for parts for a school project. Impressed by Jobs, Hewlett not only gave him the parts, but also offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard. It was there that Jobs met and befriended Wozinak who was a young engineer with a penchant for tinkering.
After graduating from high school, Jobs enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Ore. but dropped out after one semester. He had become fascinated by Eastern spiritualism and took a part-time job designing video games for Atari in order to finance a trip to India to study Eastern culture and religion. He also dropped out of college because he didn’t want to spend his parents’ money in college. Despite being a drop out, he never let his passion fade away and this also accounts for his entrepreneurial success. He once said, “People with passion can change the world.”
Interestingly, he was one of the youngest people to make into Forbes list. He also possessed some very unique qualities in his personality. He suffered from pancreatic cancer but he used to resist medicines and followed natural remedies for his illness.
Jobs was once fired from Apple because Pepsi Executive John Sculley told the board that he was too young. Jobs then started another project creating the NeXT computer, but its sales were limited because it was too expensive. Apple purchased NeXT stock resulting in Steve returning to Apple. There is a silver lining to this story too; the combination of NeXT hardware with Apple resulted in operating systems like iOS, which is used for the iPhone.
He passed away at the age of 56 due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. Jobs once described himself as a “hopeless romantic” who just wanted to make a difference. Quite appropriately like the archetypal romantic hero who reaches for greatness but fails, only to find wisdom and maturity in exile, an older, wiser Steve Jobs returned triumphant to save his kingdom.
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in Germany on 14th March 1879. It is said that the story of Einstein’s brilliance started when he was just four years old. His father gave him a magnetic pocket compass to play with. He became obsessed with the way the needle seemed to move around as if by magic. It’s believed that was the event from where Einstein’s deep passion for physics originated. Even as an old man, Einstein wrote about the compass, saying “I can still remember…that this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me. Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”
As a child Albert Einstein was a slow learner and spoke very slowly. So much so that his parents actually feared he may have learning difficulties. Thankfully, it turned out, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Einstein became a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences in 1914. However, in 1933 he was visiting America just as Hitler came into power back in Einstein’s home country of Germany. Being born to Jewish parents he rightly thought it would not be a good idea to return to Germany. The Nazis were so offended by Einstein’s intellect that they burned all his books still remaining in Germany and included him on a list of enemies of the Nazi state entitled “not yet hanged” and put a $5,000 bounty on his head. Einstein responded to the Nazis by calling their actions a “spontaneous emotional outburst “and stating that “more than anything else in the world, they fear the influence of men of intellectual independence.” Einstein was granted refugee status and became a citizen of the United States of America, where he stayed for the remainder of his life.
Einstein considered himself to be agnostic, not an atheist. He criticized personal gods, i.e. gods that are believed to resemble a human form. Einstein instead had pantheistic beliefs. Which is the idea that the universe and nature itself, is equal to divinity, as opposed to an anthropomorphic, or human-like, god.
Einstein was well known for his iconic shabby look. Which consisted of wild, uncombed hair and baggy, oversized clothes. Also he never wore socks. He saw socks as unnecessary and got frustrated that whenever he wore socks he got holes in them. He wouldn’t even wear socks or comb his hair when visiting the White House.
It was well known by everyone that knew him that Einstein had an incredibly bad memory. He couldn’t remember most people’s names and couldn’t remember any phone numbers, including his own.
In 1952, after Israel’s first President, Israel Chaim Weizmann, died, Einstein was offered the position of Israel’s presidency, because the Israelis believed him to be the greatest Jew alive. Einstein, then aged 73, politely declined the offer. He said he lacked the “natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people”.
Einstein’s favorite hobbies were sailing and playing the violin. But neither came close to his love for theoretical physics. Einstein would play the violin to himself when he became stuck in the thinking process whilst practicing physics.
The prestigious Nobel Prize was awarded to Albert Einstein in 1921, but not for his work on the theory of relativity. He actually got it for his work on helping to discover the photoelectric effect, which is now a well-known phenomenon.
About a week after Einstein died in 1955 at Princeton, before being cremated, an autopsy was performed on his body and it was eventually discovered that Einstein’s parietal lobes, the parts of the brain responsible for mathematical, visual and spatial cognition, were 15% larger than the average person’s. Einstein’s brain was eventually transferred and put on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.
Einstein’s last words are not known because he said them in German and the only person that heard them was a night nurse who only spoke English. But all these facts pale in comparison to the most amazing fact about Albert Einstein. In whilst working in Bern, Switzerland, Einstein published a paper on his Special Theory of Relativity”. Which challenged the world’s idea of how space and time behaves in the universe and set the tone of theoretical physics for the next century, and counting. The ideas Einstein put forward in this revolutionary paper had enormous consequences that completely changed the way we think about, mass, energy, space and time. His paper on the Special Theory of Relativity also included, what has become the most famous equation in the world, , otherwise known as the mass-energy equivalence. On a very basic level it is the concept that the mass of any object is a measure of how much energy is contained within it. There were actually numerous scientists who all claimed to have discovered the equation around the same time. But it was eventually decided that Albert Einstein should be given the credit for it as he put more efforts into its discovery. This gave rise to the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. Knowing that he was mostly responsible for causing the atomic bomb’s eventual discovery, Einstein slipped into a period of great depression. He believed himself to be a pacifist.
In 1915, Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity, which implied the existence of black holes and gravitational waves and many other things, up until which point had been nothing more than hypotheses. Together with his Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity formed the Theory of Relativity-the cornerstone of modern physics and arguably the most important discovery in physics of the past century. Sure the Theory of Relativity is used every day by physicists in their increasingly complex endeavors. But its effects can be seen in our everyday lives too. None of the following things would be possible without Einstein’s two theories of relativity GPS systems, televisions, nuclear power plants, remote control devices, lasers, DVD-players and many others.
Also known as the genius who lit the world, Serbian born inventor Nikola Tesla is the mastermind behind AC induction motor and the Tesla Coil. He was born in July, 1856, in a family of six. Tesla’s interest in electrical invention and science was spurred by his mother Djuka Mandic who invented small household appliances in her spare time at home.
After studying at the Realschule, Karlstadt; Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague during the 1870s, Tesla moved to Budapest, where he worked at the Central Telephone Exchange. He moved to America, where he was employed by the ever famous scientist Thomas Edison. The two geniuses worked tirelessly day and night, making improvements in Edison’s inventions. However, after a few months, the two brilliant minds parted ways due to a conflicting business scientific relationship.
Tesla’s life was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. Around 1900 Nikola set to work to build a global, wireless communication system—to be transmitted through a large electrical tower—for sharing information and providing free electricity throughout the world. With funding from a group of investors, in 1901 Tesla began work on the project in earnest, designing and building a lab with a power plant and a massive transmission tower on a site in New York. However, doubts arose among his investors and Tesla had no choice but to abandon the project. His staff was laid off in 1906 and by 1915 the site had fallen into foreclosure. Two years later Tesla declared bankruptcy and the tower was dismantled and sold for scrap to help pay the debts he had accrued.
After suffering a nervous breakdown, Tesla still returned to work. But with the passage of time, his ideas became progressively far out and impractical. He grew increasingly eccentric, spending most of his time with the wild pigeons in New York City’s parks. He even drew the attention of the FBI with his controversial claim of building a powerful “death beam,” which had received some interest from the Soviet Union during World War II.
Poor and reclusive, Nikola Tesla died on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86, in New York City.
Some interesting facts about Nikola Tesla are listed below:
- He envisioned the modern day smartphone in 1909.
You can call him black magician or Nostradamus reincarnated, but Nikola Tesla was an absolute genius. Such a visionary, that he predicted cell-phones back in 1909, during a New York Times interview.
- He suffered from oystersaritisphobia – the fear of pearls:
Tesla once sent his secretary home to change after he came to work donning a strand of pearls. Not being able to even stand the sight of pearls, he even refused to speak to women wearing them.
- He had a particular sense of style:
Tesla had a very particular sense of style and aesthetics, and believed that in order to be successful, one needed to look successful. He wore white gloves to dinner every night and prided himself on being a “dapper dresser.” Every photograph of Tesla is very carefully constructed to capture his “good side”.
- He had a photographic memory:
Tesla’s memory was eidetic, which means he could recall entire books and images in great detail. He allegedly used his potent imagination to temper the vivid nightmares he had as a child.
- He was born during a lightning storm:
Nikola Tesla was born around midnight, between July 9 and July 10, 1856 during a fierce lightning storm. According to family legend, midway through the birth, the midwife wrung her hands and declared the lightning a bad omen. This child will be a child of darkness, she said, to which his mother replied: “No. He will be a child of light.”
- He spoke 8 languages:
Tesla was fluent in 8 different languages: Serbo-Croatian, English, Czech, German, French, Hungarian, Italian and Latin. Linguists refer to such a person as a “hyper polyglot”, or someone who can speak more than six languages with great proficiency.
- He invented the first hydroelectric power plant:
In 1895, along with George Westinghouse, Tesla built the first power plant to tap the hydroelectric potential trapped within Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls Power Company marked the final victory of Tesla’s Poly-phase Alternating Current (AC) electricity, which powers the world today.
Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī:
He was born in a Persian family in medieval era. He grew up to pursue his work in Baghdad where he rose to eminent position in the “House of Wisdom”, which was set up by the then Abbasid Caliph to foster advancement in science and to solidify the basis for growth of knowledge in world. Khwarizmi is one of the greatest minds that time has ever witnessed, whose intellect made a profound impact on diverse fields ranging from mathematics, trigonometry, and geometry to astronomy and geography. He not only left indelible mark on the fields that were related to his research work but also reviewed and amended the existing work. Many of us are still unaware of how much we owe to this brilliant man when we are transforming real world problems to mathematical domain, or while applying techniques to solve equations, or when it comes to formulating an algorithm to be used as efficient problem solving tool.
Information regarding his personal life and evidences from his childhood life, relating to the early signs of wisdom manifested by him, are scarce yet one can easily ascertain his traits and his qualities from the magnitude, thoroughness and vastness of his work.
His significant contribution was in genesis of algebra and he is rightly considered as father of algebra. His masterly piece of work “Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing” introduced the world to algebra, coherently explaining systematic solution for linear and quadratic equations which apply indisputably to a wide class of everyday problems. Another of his masterly works is “The Book of Algebra and Almucabola Containing Demonstrations of the Rules of the Equations of Algebra” which is widely hailed. He starts this book with an invocation to Allah, which shows his close and deep association with his religion.
It might be surprising for few that the mathematical concept of Algorithm traces its origin back to the concepts introduced by Khwarizmi for problem solving. And the word ‘algorithm’ is a product of Latinization of his name.
His another notable achievement was treatise on Hindu-Arabic Numerals, where he recognizes the completeness and power of Hindu numeric system and demonstrates basic mathematical operations using these numerals. He delved into existing Indian literature on mathematics and was particularly intrigued by the use of zero. He, therefore, introduced zero which was non-existent in Roman Numerals. This was a huge breakthrough for all the fields that were, in any way, related to mathematics. For him, zero signified nothingness which reaffirmed the fact that God created us out of nothing.
Al-Khwarizmi actively led a team, of 70 geographers, who worked to determine the circumference of Earth in order to draft a map of the then known world for the caliph. This work, majorly, seemed a revision of Ptolemy’s work but it was based on his own original findings. He documented these findings in “Book of the image of Earth” which presents remarkable improvement and refinement of gross estimates given out by Ptolemy. This book shares ancient information about longitudes and latitudes as well as co-ordinates of localities like seas, rivers, mountains, town, cities, etc. Contrary to Ptolemy’s inference, he correctly established Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean as open bodies of water and not as land-locked seas.
Similarly, his contributions in field of trigonometry are invaluable. He skillfully constructed trigonometric tables of sines and cosines. He also shed expansive light on spherical trigonometry. Furthermore, he dealt with fractions in his work. Fibonacci introduced method devised by Al-Khwarizmi to multiply large numbers by forming a lattice.
Al-Khwarizmi played a major role in advancement of theory and construction of sundials. His sundials were overwhelmingly adopted because of their universality. Afterwards, his sundials were installed on mosques to determine time of prayer. He is also accredited for inventing shadow square, which was used to measure height of an object.
This genius Muslim scholar embarked on a magnificent voyage of learning and knowledge to acquaint himself with the true Glory of his Lord. His work produced significant influence on multiple knowledge areas and was, indisputably, a milestone in advancement and revision of knowledge. Momentum in pace of progression of science in medieval era can be rightfully attributed to his intellectual loftiness.
By IEEE Writer’s Board
Zaine Nayab, Muhammad Asad Haider, Fatima Faisal and Zainab Tareen