I don't really buy the Great Man theory...
... of history, nor am I a fan-boy of celebrities, current or past. But I AM an admirer of people who are (for lack of a better term) broadly talented and effective.
That is, learning about such people is kind of a sub-hobby of mine. I look up to, read biographies of, and am inspired by people like:
|Galton, ca. 1850|
Francis Galton (who came up with the idea of statistical correlation; first wrote about “nature vs. nurture”, invented the idea of psychometrics; did important work in meteorology and audiology, inventing the Galton whistle and a few other things)
|Alberti, ca. 1440|
Or the classic example of such folks, Leonardo da Vinci (painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, scientist, writer...)
Or consider Leon Battista Alberti (architect, painter, poet, mathematician, horseman, author, artist, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer, and archer)
I'd include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (novelist, poet, statesman, theatre director, natural philosopher, mineralogist)
And Alexander von Humboldt (Prussian geographer, naturalist, explorer, romantic philosophy, quantitative botanical geography)
Along with Daniel Bernoulli (math, physics, probability theory, medicine, anatomy, botany)
|A worried looking Goethe, ca. 1828|
I'm curious about the details of people like this--how did they manage to be so wide-ranging AND effective in (apparently) whatever area they wanted to work in?
I'm fascinated by an analysis like that of Maria Popova did of the routines of famous (and famously productive) writers.
|Pallas, ca. 1906|
(BTW, Don't miss her wonderful chart showing all this data collected together in a single infographic. Highly recommended.)
In short, I try to learn from those brilliant folks that have figured this out before me. What did they do that I should emulate? Sure, work hard, get up early in the morning, write like crazy... But then.. what else?
So I'd like your help in putting together a list of people like those above. Who else qualifies? This week we have just a single question:
1. Can you find more people like those above? They must be skilled in multiple arts / sciences / domains-of-expertise AND have left a record so we can tell what they were so good at doing. And just as importantly, HOW can you do a SearchReSearch strategy to identify these folks?
Once you figure out a method to find people with this interestingly vague characteristic, share it with us. I don't think it's all that difficult to do, but we'll learn an important SRS skill.
Who else would you nominate to go onto this list, and why?
Be sure to tell us HOW to found these additional people!
(To be clear, they need NOT be dead, white, and male. These were just handy examples with images that are out of copyright...)