NATURE cover 3 April 2008 Charles Robert Darwin, co-inventor of evolution theory, with Alfred Russel Wallace Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of evolution theory, with Charles Darwin Louis Pasteur, father of the germ theory of disease and modern medicine, with Robert Koch Robert Koch, father of the germ theory of disease and modern medicine, with Louis Pasteur Carl Friedrich Gauss, greatest mathematician
Above some of Charles Darwin's (top) contemporaries:
Alfred Russel Wallace, co-inventor of evolution theory, with Darwin
Louis Pasteur, and Robert Koch, fathers of the germ theory of disease and modern medicine
Carl Friedrich Gauss, often called the greatest mathematician ever

Comparing the Legacies of Gauss, Pasteur, Darwin

Sir - Kevin Padian's enthusiastic Essay on Charles Darwin ('Darwin's enduring legacy' Nature 451, 632-634; 2008) asks whether any single individual made so many lasting contributions to a broad area of science as Darwin did to biology. Let us remember that the nineteenth century also included Carl Friedrich Gauss, often called the greatest mathematician since antiquity, and Louis Pasteur, sometimes considered humanity's greatest benefactor because of his (and Robert Koch's) germ theory of disease. It is a straightforward exercise to counter Padian's top ten darwinian topics (all of them evolution-oriented) with a much broader list for Gauss. He profoundly influenced modern life with his fundamental breakthroughs in statistics, algebra, analysis and other fields of mathematics - the 'queen of sciences'. His insights permeate all areas of science and engineering, including the theory of evolution. Without Pasteur's revolution in medicine, many beacons of social and intellectual life would not have survived to formulate their thoughts. So, although Darwin was certainly one of the greatest, he had some even more influential contemporaries.

Jürgen Schmidhuber
IDSIA, Galleria 2, 6928 Manno-Lugano, Switzerland
& Robotics and Embedded Systems, Tech. Univ. München, Computer Science, Boltzmannstr. 3, 85748 Garching, Germany

Reference to the short correspondence to the left:

J. Schmidhuber: Comparing the legacies of Gauss, Pasteur and Darwin. Nature vol 452, p 530 (3 April 2008)

doi:10.1038/ 452530b (published online 2 April 2008)

Compare this Nature link.

More heroes of tech and science:
Aviation pioneers
Meucci etc.
Archimedes, greatest scientist ever? Schickard, father of the computer age Leibniz, universal genius, inventor of binary arithmetics, co-inventor of calculus, computer pioneer, philosopher, etc Albert Einstein, greatest physicist Kurt Goedel, founder of theoretical computer science Turing, inventor of the Turing machine Fritz Haber, detonator of the population explosion, probably the most influential person of the 20th century Konrad Zuse, inventor of first working program-controlled computer