From holding their pee until they died to jumping off of buildings wearing wooden wings, these are 25 geniuses that changed the world and why they were crazy.
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He invented a lot of stuff…ok, we know, Tesla invented it…but anyway, he did some famous things one of which included electrocuting an elephant to prove that Tesla’s AC current was more dangerous than his. Or so they say. While Edison was crazy and he hated sleep, he actually had nothing to do with executing Topsy the elephant. And now that we’ve gotten our myth dispelling fun fact out of the way, on to the rest of our mad scientists.
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov
This Russian biologist was famous for creating animal hybrids. His madness came to a peak when Stalin ordered him to create a race of slave ape men who would serve communist Russia. He ended up inseminating several monkeys with human semen although none of them became pregnant. Or so they say.
An American military psychiatrist with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Sidney had some crazy ideas in his day. He was the man responsible for the idea to fill Castro’s shoes with thallium to make his beard fall out.
Not only did he invent vaseline, he ate it every single day.
This Hungarian mathematician was so devoted to his work that he never married and lived out of a suitcase. At the end of his life he had published about 1,500 papers.
This Russian doctor was so obsessed with finding the secret of eternal youth (typically through blood transfusions) that one day he unknowingly injected himself with the blood of a student who was suffering from malaria. Alexander died, but ironically enough, the student survived.
An English engineer famous for designing the first lighthouse of Eddystone, he was so confident in his work that he decided to stay in the lighthouse whenever there was a storm. In November of 1703 England witnessed just how misplaced his confidence was as the lighthouse crashed to the ground during a storm with the eccentric inventor inside.
Known as the “flying taylor” this Frenchman was an early paratrooper pioneer who dedicated himself to finding a way for soldiers to survive falls from airplanes. After a few test flights with dummies being thrown out of windows he decided to go all out and jumped off the Eiffel Tower wearing his invention. Unfortunately the results were not life sustaining.
The architect famous for creating the geodesic dome only slept 2 hours a night and wore three watches so he could keep track of time in different time zones.
While he invented the telecaster and stratocaster guitars he allegedly couldn’t play a single chord.
A brilliant physicist who was fluent in eight languages and had trouble understanding the limitations of others, Robert apparently once asked a colleague, Leo Nedelsky, to prepare a lecture for him out of a textbook. Leo came back confused and told him the book was in Dutch to which Robert replied, “But it’s such easy Dutch!”
Abu Nasr Isma’il ibn Hammad Al-Jawhari
Apart from the crazy name, this guy authored an Arabic dictionary that contained 40,000 words. His real claim to fame, however, came when he jumped off a building with wooden wings. There were no survivors.
Besides his tactical genius on the battlefield, this American president was a bit off his rocker. He was known to get in so many duels and gunfights that some friends claimed he would cough up blood on a regular basis.
The famous German theoretical physicist basically invented the famous uncertainty equations of quantum mechanics but when he was asked during his doctoral dissertation about how a battery works, he had no idea.
Responsible for creating the first life support machine, Sergei is known for keeping a severed dog’s head alive for several minutes. Why? He needed to test his machine and even back then humans were generally off limits for such things.
In spite of developing Morse Code, Samuel was a bit crazy. He came to the conclusion that Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and the entire country of Austria were out to destroy America. Ironically, his invention facilitated global interconnectivity and therefore immigration as well.
After inventing the diesel engine he committed suicide because he thought his invention wouldn’t be successful.
William Chester Minor
An American surgeon who was responsible for adding most of the example quotations to the original Oxford Dictionary. The crazy part? He did this while in an insane asylum because he had killed somebody in a bout of paranoia. His incarceration gave him plenty of time to think of example sentences though.
Known for his work on the Manhattan Project, Richard was also a notorious prankster. He would spend his free time picking locks and cracking safes around the premises to show how easy it would be to break in somewhere (ironic considering he worked in such a secure environment). He also became fluent in Mayan and learned how to throat sing.
The Japanese inventor responsible for the CD, DVD, and digital watch documents every single thing he eats in order to fulfill his passion of living to be exactly 144 years old and apparently not a second more.
The British mathematician was known as an eccentric who placed huge granite blocks around his house and went for long periods of time consuming nothing but milk.
Although he basically discovered hydrogen, Henry had notoriously bad social skills and sat at home all day. His discoveries weren’t found out until nearly 100 years after his death by James Maxwell and by that time other people had made pretty much all of his discoveries and received the credit.
This Danish astronomer is famous for staying at the table during a banquet in Prague even though he needed to pee. Unfortunately he ended up developing a kidney stone and dying.
After building a high frequency oscillator he invited Mark Twain over because Mark was having digestive issues. He told Mark to stand on the machine and about 90 seconds later Mark ran for the bathroom. Nikolai later remarked that he had shook the poop out of Mark Twain.
Besides the Pythagorean Theorum one of his great ideas was that beans were so bad for you that they should not be eaten or touched. Legend has it that he was chased from his house by attackers and after coming to a bean field he chose to face his death rather than cross it.