2632: Greatest Scientist
Title text: "Ow! One of the petri dishes I left on the tower railing fell and hit me on the head. Hey, that gives me an idea..."
This comic takes the feats of seven of history's most acclaimed scientists and combines them into one fictional act, claiming that this person was the greatest scientist in history. The joke is that pulling off a combination of all of these would be rather impressive from a technical standpoint, but would have little value as a scientific experiment; almost none of the things being tested are directly related to each other.
The ground is noticeably curved in this comic, because the curvature of the Earth is mentioned and measured.
Humorously combining multiple science experiments into one was also a punchline in 1584: Moments of Inspiration. Curved floors to represent Earths curvature were mentioned in 2412: 1/100,000th Scale World.
Table of Experiments
|Experiment in comic||Experiment in reality||Meaning||Scientist|
|Measuring the shadow of a tall building||Tradition holds that Thales of Miletus measured the shadow of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and used geometry he had recently proven to calculate its height.||Thales was the first known person to actually prove mathematical fact rather than simply notice it, and as such he is considered the father of both math and science. His development of the theory of similar triangles in particular paved the way for many later discoveries, such as the Pythagorean theorem and Eratosthenes' measurement of the earth.||Thales of Miletus|
|The Leaning Tower of Pisa||Galileo conducted an experiment at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where he dropped two objects to measure whether the rate at which objects fall is dependent on weight or is constant.||Galileo found that objects with different weights fall at the same rate, disproving Aristotle's statement which purported the opposite. Galileo was not the first scientist to run such an experiment (and there is some debate whether he ran the experiment himself or not) but Galileo's version is notable for furthering the idea of experimentation in science, in opposition to the then-prevailing view that knowledge is learned by studying the writings of the ancients.||Galileo Galilei|
|Flying a kite into a thunderstorm with lightning||In June 1752, Benjamin Franklin performed his famous kite experiment in which he attached a conductive wire to a kite and flew it near a thunderstorm. Attached to the kite was a key, which was further attached to a Leyden jar.||While the kite was not hit by lightning, "Franklin did notice that loose threads of the kite string were repelling each other and deduced that the Leyden jar was being charged." This is sometimes considered the discovery of the fact that lightning contains/is electricity.||Benjamin Franklin|
|Two moldy petri dishes||In August 1928, Alexander Fleming put Staphylococcus aureus into multiple petri dishes and then left to go on holiday/vacation. On September 3, he returned and found that one plate had mold on it. The moldy plate was the only one that no longer had S. aureus bacteria in it. He later repeated this experiment and the result was confirmed.||The mold that Fleming had discovered produced penicillin, an antibiotic. This was the first time that a substance had been discovered that could reliably treat bacterial infections, having a huge impact on medicine across the world.||Sir Alexander Fleming|
|Salivating dog located next to a bell||In 1902 Ivan Pavlov conducted a study on dog reflexes by giving dogs food and simultaneously ringing a bell. When the dog smelled and saw the food, it started salivating. Eventually, simply ringing the bell made the dog salivate, as the dog had associated the bell ringing with food. Pavlov also performed other, less humane experiments on other dogs.||This was the discovery of classical conditioning, where a stimulus is paired with an unrelated other thing through repeated exposure. The subject will eventually react to the unrelated thing in the absence of the stimulus. This is an example of taught reflexes, where a subconsious reaction like a reflex or instinct is taught.||Ivan Pavlov|
|The shadow angle of the dog determining the circumference of the Earth||In the 200s BCE, the Greek philosopher Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth. While his exact method has been lost to time, a simplified version remains: At high noon on the summer solstice in Syene, Egypt, the sun was almost directly overhead. This was confirmed with a sundial. 5,000 stadia away in Alexandria, at the same time, the angle of the sun was measured with another sundial and converted into a fraction of the Earth's circumference. Some simple multiplication could then yield the circumference of the Earth.||The distance Eratosthenes calculated for the circumference of Earth was 250,000 stadia. This estimate was either 2.4% low or 0.8% high compared to modern knowledge, depending on whether he used Greek or Egyptian stadia - a remarkably accurate estimate for the time.||Eratosthenes|
|(Title text) A petri dish falling on the scientist's head, leading to a new discovery||Sir Isaac Newton, an inventor of calculus and discoverer of his famous Laws of Motion, also determined the basic mechanics of gravity. Newton apparently told acquaintances that his inquiries into gravity were "occasion'd by the fall of an apple", and this is often embellished into a story where Newton came up with the notion of gravity when an apple fell from a tree and hit him on the head. Regardless of what the apple really landed on, this purportedly led Newton to consider the question of what exactly caused the apple to fall straight to the ground.||This line of thinking ultimately let him to deduce the Law of Universal Gravitation, which is fundamental to understanding celestial mechanics.||Sir Isaac Newton|
- [A segment of the Earth is shown where the ground is noticeably curved, low at the edges and highest in the middle. On the left of the panel, there are one tall, but leaning tower, three smaller buildings, two trees and a small plant representing Pisa, Italy. The tower represents the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Cueball is standing in front of the left most building. The height of the tower is labeled h1 against a locally non-leaning dotted line, the length of its shadow upon the grounds is marked L1, the angle from ground at the end of the shadow to the tip of the tower is labelled θ1. Attached to the top of the tower, there is a kite string which goes in a upward sloping curve to a kite. The kite is in the top right corner with it's tail pointing away from the kite to the right. Just above and to the left of the kite there is a cloud with a lightning bolt coming out beneath it. Beneath the kite there is a string down to a rectangular device, that seems to have two arms beneath it. These seems to have dropped two items, as indicated with dotted lines going down towards the ground in two parallel and straight lines. It turns out to be two disks that fell from the kite, and just above the ground they hit a bell supported on curved pin. As they hit the bell is makes two sounds. Next to the bell is a small dog with it's tongue hanging out. A horizontal line above the dog and its shadow is labeled (and possibly broken up by) h2, the length of its shadow on the ground L2, and the angle up from the far end of the shadow to the tip of the dog θ2. To the left of the dog there is a three and two smaller plants. Between Pisa and the dog, near the middle part of the curved there are various distant pyramids near the horizon. This section of the ground are very nearly horizontal to the image. All buildings in 'Pisa', the dropping disks and the supported bell/dog at the other side of the scene and various trees and plants around each end are locally-vertical in a radial manner, except for the Tower Of Pisa which is almost vertical to the image in exhibiting its local 'lean'. The two θ angles are clearly different but the dotted diagonal segments they define head in the same drawn direction from the tips of the shadows to the tips of their objects. The Sun is not illustrated but would be somewhere to the left of the image and upwards to cause the measured shadows.]
- Left labels: h1 θ1 L1
- Right labels: h2 θ2 L2
- Bell: Ding ding
- [Caption below the panel:]
- History's greatest scientist was probably that one who measured the shadow of the Leaning Tower of Pisa while flying a kite into a distant thunderstorm where lightning caused two moldy Petri dishes to fall onto a bell next to a salivating dog whose shadow angle determined the circumference of the Earth.
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