Imaginary Scientists on Our Radar

Science is not about why; it’s about why not! This spirit of enquiry and creativity pave the path for innovations, breakthroughs and progress. Scientists are usually visionaries who foresee solutions to problems that may not even exist. What’s Up, Germany? takes a look at famous scientists in mainstream film, TV and fiction—including fascinating science-fictional characters.

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Imaginary Scientists on Our Radar

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Dr Faust (1808)

Considered by many as the greatest work of German literature, Faust: A Tragedy, focusses on Dr Faust, “the Lord’s favourite striving scholar”. The plot revolves around a wager between God and the Devil, and the latter’s attempts to lure the scientist from the righteous path.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)

This early example of science fiction was inspired by the author’s trip to south Germany. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young science student who creates a monster through an unorthodox experiment.

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Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, Back to the Future (1985)

A “student of all sciences”, he invented the first time machine. Loosely based on Albert Einstein, “Doc” Brown is an archetype of the mad but genius scientist.

Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory (2007–)

This annoying yet charming theoretical physicist with an uber-high IQ but almost zero social skills has become an integral part of mainstream culture. And he has a German connection: He spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg.

Step into the Future

The gap between discovery and delivery is rapidly closing. Earlier, it could take a lifetime to develop an idea into a functional prototype. Nowadays, however, thanks to innovations like 3D printers and real-time computer simulations, experiments and designs can be completed within weeks or even hours! The future is now. After all, there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Pervasive Computing

Scientists are researching the concept of “everyware”: smart and energy-efficient microprocessors embedded in everyday objects, from contact lenses to clothing, kitchen appliances to soda cans! They will be present  everywhere, constantly transmitting information, without being visible.

3D-printed Food

The trend of 3D-printed machinery parts, shoes and medical devices has taken the world by storm. The German company Biozoon has taken it to the next level: 3D-printable powder mixtures that solidify when printed but quickly melt when eaten. This could be a game changer for the elderly, as it reduces the risk of choking.

Industrial-scale Desalination

Quenching the world’s thirst with saltwater? Though it may sound paradoxical, it could soon become a reality. Large-scale concentrating solar powered (CSP) desalination plants will convert salty ocean water into drinkable water. Experts expect a breakthrough in 2030, which could change the way the world population hydrates.

The Oddballs

There is no yin without yang, no butter chicken without ghee, and no genius without a touch of madness. These legendary scientists are proof enough!

Pythagoras (circa 575–500 BC)
Apart from inventing a world-famous mathematical theorem, Pythagoras founded his own religion based on two primary tenets: souls reincarnate and beans are evil!
ping-02 Tycho Brahe (1546–1601)
This astronomer, who lost part of his nose in a math-fueled duel, left a wealth of astronomical data, including a catalogue of over a thousand stars. He lived in a castle and partied hard, surprising his guests with a dwarf who sat under the dining table dressed as a clown!
magic-icon Nikola Tesla (1856–1943)
This physicist and engineer, known as “the man who invented the 20th century”, made key breakthroughs in radio, robotics, electricity and X-rays. But he was a bit of a germophobe, refusing to touch round objects or anything bearing a hint of dirt.