By Lucas Gardner
All scientists are heroes. I admire scientists more than any other class of professionals. Flight, space, travel, antibiotics. My only complaint is that too few of them are mad.
What happened to the classic mad scientist? The true eccentric? Where is the 21st century equivalent of Nikola Tesla, who built an earthquake machine and fired his secretary for being too fat? Where's our Sergei Brukhonenko, who reanimated severed dog heads? Where's our Caligula (not a scientist, just a really cool guy), who fed crowds of humans to animals and made his horse a Senator?
We've had genius scientists and inventors, sure. We've had Steve Jobs, Godfather of consumer electronics. But how much cooler would it have been if, instead of a being a gentle techie who tried to cure cancer with fruit juice and supported the New Balance corporation with ALL the power in his heart, he would throw one of his New Balances through a computer screen because someone questioned the shape of the iPhone's bezel?
Instead, we have geeks in button-down shirts, cautious voices and ten-dollar haircuts; it's heartbreaking but not surprising that the general public doesn't know the names of anyone on the team that zeroed in on the God Particle, but we all know the names of people like Amanda Bynes or Guy Fieri -- people who didn't discover anything except the perils of drinking and driving, or exactly how upsetting a human being's hairstyle can be (respectively). Imagine a scientist so prone to erratic behavior that you saw their greasy, unshaven face on TMZ every week? Why can't Neil deGrasse Tyson get into one single punch-up at a wedding? Why won't Francis Crick release a sex tape?
The scientific community needs some personality. This is my plea to the scientists of the world: First off, and most importantly, keep doing what you're doing... But also, don't be afraid to get a little weird. Maybe try to be the next Tesla, or the next Brukhonenko. Build something as frightening and unnecessary as the earthquake machine (I thought we were getting there when we built the Large Hadron Collider and everyone grew worried that it was going to blow a hole in the universe, but, sadly, we just found the God Particle instead). Animate some severed heads, for God's sakes. At least smash some beakers or something, nerds!