The man has through the ages illustrated by many innovations, research, discoveries and major inventions such as the cup holder in cars. Although some of these inventors have gone down in history, others have been unjustly forgotten, such as a student who took too long to get dressed after leaving the swimming pool and whose class had already taken the bus back to the ‘school. Either way, it’s time to restore justice and quote these people starting with you Nicolas Brunier, unjustly forgotten at the Rouen swimming pool in 1993.
1. Ub Iwerks, the designer of Mickey Mouse
Although Walt Disney had made a first sketch, it was Iwerks who drew the final version of Mickey Mouse that we know today. He then animated the first five cartoons of the famous mouse. Then the two friends got into a bit of a fight since all the credit went to Disney. Ub still had a huge success creating its “IwerksLand Paris” theme park. No, I’m joking.
2. Cleisthenes, father of Athenian democracy
Probably dead between 508 and 402 BC (which is what is quite commonly called a “slow death”), Cleisthenes is considered today by many to be “the father of democracy”. He carried out several reforms that founded the Athenian democracy, such as the right to vote for all citizens (the Ecclesia) as well as a council of people drawn by lot annually who propose the laws and manage the finances (the Boulé).
3. Elisha Kane, the American explorer
Physician, officer and explorer, Elisha Kane is still remembered today for having traced the outline of the coasts between Canada and Greenland by venturing further north than any explorer of the time when he was reached scurvy. Abandoning his ship trapped in the ice, he began with his crew an 83-day march in the far north. The crew carried the wounded and only one died during this long march. It is said that his funeral was the largest in the United States after that of Abraham Lincoln.
4. Mary Anning, self-taught paleontologist
While she had begun to recover fossils to resell them to amateurs (a sort of skeleton dealer after all), Mary Anning made many key discoveries in this field. Her major discovery will remain that of the skeleton of a “plesiosaur” in 1821. She was rarely credited for her discoveries since many of them were attributed to collectors to whom she sold them. She will fall into oblivion after her death and it is only in recent decades that she will finally be considered at her fair value. She will also be ranked in 2010 in the ten most influential scientists in British history by the Royal Society.
5. Heinrich Göbel, the inventor of the incandescent lamp
Although this invention was attributed to Thomas Edison (hello stolen inventions), the mystery of the authorship of the incandescent lamp could be clarified (sorry) by proving that Göbel would have produced the invention 25 years before the American. Having filed no patent, it was Edison who was considered the original inventor, but today in many countries this invention is attributed to good old Heinrich.
6. Witold Pilecki, the Auschwitz infiltrator
A Polish resistance leader and intelligence agent, Pilecki volunteered during World War II to be imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Once inside he informs the Western allies of the conditions of the prisoners and the atrocities committed there. He escaped from the camp in 1943 after two and a half years of imprisonment and took part the following year in the Warsaw uprising. He will be executed in 1948 and all his actions will be hidden until 1989 by the Polish communist regime. He is now considered “one of the greatest war heroes”.
7. Margaret Sanger, birth control activist
Margaret Higgins Sanger fought for the right to contraception and freedom of expression. Working as a midwife and nurse in the poorest neighborhoods of New York, she witnessed many repeat births and miscarriages. Contraception is at this time considered obscenity (Comstock law), and she will succeed in founding the league for birth control (which will later become family planning). She was a key figure in access to contraception and birth control.
8. Mbaye Diagne, Hero of the Rwandan Genocide
Captain Mbaye Diagne was a Senegalese officer who played a key role during the Rwandan genocide. After saving many children by ensuring their safe passage out of the country, he carried out several risky exfiltrations alone by hiding Tutsi in his car to evacuate them to UN facilities. Killed by a shell in 1994, the United Nations Security Council creates a medal in his name for exceptional courage. Estimates of the number of lives he saved vary, sometimes exceeding 1,000.
9. Hedy Lamarr, actress and inventor
This Austrian actress who played under the direction of prestigious directors of her time also marked scientific history. Collaborating with George Antheil (also a composer and inventor), she invented a transmission coding system using spread spectrum. This prevented the interception of information by enemy forces. The principle will inspire, among other things, WI-FI technology and mobile telephony.
10. Franck Wilson, the tax man behind Al Capone’s arrest
While Eliot Ness has been trying to put him behind bars for quite a while, Al Capone remains untouchable. He will finally be arrested for a rather unexpected offense since it is on the basis of his tax evasion that he will be imprisoned. The person behind this idea is Franck Wilson, an American tax agent, and although the glory went mainly to Eliot Ness (story told in the film the incorruptibles) it probably wouldn’t have been possible without this agent.
Sources: Wikipedia, Dailygeekshow, Craked, Odyssey.