# Things that might surprise you about great scientists

How about juggling, riding a unicycle, and playing bongo? Or catching criminals or cracking safes?:

4.Claude Shannon, the Unicycling Juggler

If you use a cell phone, you are impacted by the work of Claude Shannon. (1916 – 2001). While working at Bell Labs in 1948, he published a paper that founded modern information theory. He was the first to use the term bit. He proved that digital transmission across a noisy channel could be accomplished with little to no error. Shannon also wrote what is possibly the most important master’s thesis in the 20th century. He showed that the switching networks used by Bell Telephone at the time could be analyzed and simplified using Boolean algebra. Shannon’s thesis work is taught even today to engineers and mathematicians.

But Shannon was also a juggler and was often seen around Bell Labs riding a unicycle while juggling. Shannon loved juggling. He even developed a juggling equation: (F+D)H=(V+D)N, where F = time a ball spends in the air, D = time a ball spends in a hand/time a hand is full, V = time a hand is vacant, N = number of balls, and H = number of hands:

Robert J. Marks: , “Five surprising facts re famous scientists we bet you never knew” at Mind Matters News

Many people would be very surprised by the things that matter most to many famous scientists. Hint: Many are not atheists.

## One Reply to “Things that might surprise you about great scientists”

1. 1
bornagain77 says:

As to this comment from the linked article,

Some falsely claim that a true scientist cannot believe in God. They claim Christianity and science are mutually exclusive. Of course, there are outspoken atheist scientists today, as in the past. British polymath Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) wrote an essay, Why I am Not a Christian (1927). The great mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749 – 1827) is another historical example. When presented with a copy of Laplace’s work on celestial mechanics, Napoleon is said to have remarked, “I see no mention of God in this work.” Laplace is said to have replied, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.”
But now here’s the other side. As can be seen at the website ChristianCalculus.com, many celebrity scientists were also outspoken Christians. Here are some examples from yesterday and today.

Alvin Plantinga, who is not too impressed with Bertrand Russell’s overall work as a philosopher, tells this joke about Russell’s brief foray into solipsism,

Solipsist Humor from Plantinga
,,,At a recent Lecture I attended by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, he warmed up the crowd with a few solipsist jokes.,,,
FYI, solipsism is the rather odd idea that there is only one individual in the universe and that you are it. Everyone else is just a figment of your imagination.
1. British philosopher Bertrand Russell was a solipsist for a time (why does that not surprise me?), and he once received a letter from a woman who found his arguments very convincing. Well, I suppose it’s not so hard to convince a figment of your imagination that your arguments are brilliant. Anyway, the woman commented in her letter that his description of solipsism made a lot of sense and that, “I’m surprised there aren’t more of us.”
2. Plantinga also told of an accomplished academic who was a well-known solipsist (I forget the guy’s name). And Plantinga thought it would be fun to meet a real life solipsist, so he went to visit him. He was treated fairly well considering he was only a figment. I mean, it’s not a given that a solipsist would feel the need to be polite to his imaginary friends. After a brief conversation, Plantinga left and on the way out one of the man’s assistants said, “We take good care of the professor because when he goes we all go.”
http://www.fellowtravelerblog......plantinga/

As to Pierre-Simon Laplace, contrary to popular belief, LaPlace never uttered the words ‘I have no need for that hypothesis’, and even tried to prevent the ‘garbled’ version of events from ever being published,

In 1884, however, the astronomer Hervé Faye[83][84] affirmed that this account of Laplace’s exchange with Napoleon presented a “strangely transformed” (étrangement transformée) or garbled version of what had actually happened. It was not God that Laplace had treated as a hypothesis, but merely his intervention at a determinate point:

“In fact Laplace never said that. Here, I believe, is what truly happened. Newton, believing that the secular perturbations which he had sketched out in his theory would in the long run end up destroying the Solar System, says somewhere that God was obliged to intervene from time to time to remedy the evil and somehow keep the system working properly. This, however, was a pure supposition suggested to Newton by an incomplete view of the conditions of the stability of our little world. Science was not yet advanced enough at that time to bring these conditions into full view. But Laplace, who had discovered them by a deep analysis, would have replied to the First Consul that Newton had wrongly invoked the intervention of God to adjust from time to time the machine of the world (la machine du monde) and that he, Laplace, had no need of such an assumption. It was not God, therefore, that Laplace treated as a hypothesis, but his intervention in a certain place.”

Laplace’s younger colleague, the astronomer François Arago, who gave his eulogy before the French Academy in 1827,[85] told Faye of an attempt by Laplace to keep the garbled version of his interaction with Napoleon out of circulation. Faye writes:[83][84]

I have it on the authority of M. Arago that Laplace, warned shortly before his death that that anecdote was about to be published in a biographical collection, had requested him [Arago] to demand its deletion by the publisher. It was necessary to either explain or delete it, and the second way was the easiest. But, unfortunately, it was neither deleted nor explained.
– per wikipedia

In fact, Laplace cites with approval Leibniz’s criticism of Newton’s invocation of divine intervention to restore order to the Solar System: “This is to have very narrow ideas about the wisdom and the power of God.”,

“Leibniz, in his controversy with Newton on the discovery of infinitesimal calculus, sharply criticized the theory of Divine intervention as a corrective of the disturbances of the solar system. “To suppose anything of the kind”, he said, “is to exhibit very narrow ideas of the wisdom and power of God’.”
– Pierre-Simon Laplace

In fact, the math for correcting perturbations in a stable solar system is very difficult to solve and, contrary to popular opinion, the problem of perturbations was not solved by Laplace,

the math was not “crumbs” for Newton, since Laplace had worked on foundations laid by some of the most brilliant mathematicians of the century (Euler, Lagrange, Clairaut), some of whom also failed to solve the very same problem Newton was working on, and one of these, Euler is regarded as the greatest mathematician of all time!
“Laplace did not really solve the problem (of perturbations) in the end, but only for first degree approximations, but Haret showed that orbits are not absolutely stable using third degree approximations.”
– per letters to nature

In fact, I hold that Newton, Leibniz, and even Laplace, would all be very pleased by what modern science has now revealed about ‘the wisdom and power of God’ in keeping our solar system in a stable configuration free from perturbations:

“You might also think that these disparate bodies are scattered across the solar system without rhyme or reason. But move any piece of the solar system today, or try to add anything more, and the whole construction would be thrown fatally out of kilter. So how exactly did this delicate architecture come to be?”
R. Webb – Unknown solar system 1: How was the solar system built? – New Scientist – 2009

Is the Solar System Stable? By Scott Tremaine – 2011
Excerpt: So what are the results? Most of the calculations agree that eight billion years from now, just before the Sun swallows the inner planets and incinerates the outer ones, all of the planets will still be in orbits very similar to their present ones. In this limited sense, the solar system is stable. However, a closer look at the orbit histories reveals that the story is more nuanced. After a few tens of millions of years, calculations using slightly different parameters (e.g., different planetary masses or initial positions within the small ranges allowed by current observations) or different numerical algorithms begin to diverge at an alarming rate. More precisely, the growth of small differences changes from linear to exponential:,,,
As an example, shifting your pencil from one side of your desk to the other today could change the gravitational forces on Jupiter enough to shift its position from one side of the Sun to the other a billion years from now. The unpredictability of the solar system over very long times is of course ironic since this was the prototypical system that inspired Laplacian determinism.
Fortunately, most of this unpredictability is in the orbital phases of the planets, not the shapes and sizes of their orbits, so the chaotic nature of the solar system does not normally lead to collisions between planets. However, the presence of chaos implies that we can only study the long-term fate of the solar system in a statistical sense, by launching in our computers an armada of solar systems with slightly different parameters at the present time—typically, each planet is shifted by a random amount of about a millimeter—and following their evolution. When this is done, it turns out that in about 1 percent of these systems, Mercury’s orbit becomes sufficiently eccentric so that it collides with Venus before the death of the Sun. Thus, the answer to the question of the stability of the solar system—more precisely, will all the planets survive until the death of the Sun—is neither “yes” nor “no” but “yes, with 99 percent probability.”

As to this comment from the linked article in particular,

Some falsely claim that a true scientist cannot believe in God. They claim Christianity and science are mutually exclusive.

This oft repeated claim from atheists is 180 degrees from the truth.

Not only are science and Christianity NOT mutually exclusive, but modern science owes its very origins to Christian metaphysics which hold that the universe is contingent, not necessary, in its existence, and which also holds that the universe is rational, not random or chaotic, in its foundational basis. i.e. “the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.”

The War against the War Between Science and Faith Revisited – July 2010
Excerpt: These statements of the teaching authority of the Church expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature and so God was free to create this particular form of world among an infinity of other possibilities. Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.
http://www.scifiwright.com/201.....revisited/

The truth about science and religion By Terry Scambray – August 14, 2014
Excerpt: In 1925 the renowned philosopher and mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead speaking to scholars at Harvard said that science originated in Christian Europe in the 13th century. Whitehead pointed out that science arose from “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher”, from which it follows that human minds created in that image are capable of understanding nature.
The audience, assuming that science and Christianity are enemies, was astonished.
– per American thinker

The Threat to the Scientific Method that Explains the Spate of Fraudulent Science Publications – Calvin Beisner | Jul 23, 2014
Excerpt: It is precisely because modern science has abandoned its foundations in the Biblical worldview (which holds, among other things, that a personal, rational God designed a rational universe to be understood and controlled by rational persons made in His image) and the Biblical ethic (which holds, among other things, that we are obligated to tell the truth even when it inconveniences us) that science is collapsing.
As such diverse historians and philosophers of science as Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Duhem, Loren Eiseley, Rodney Stark, and many others have observed,, science—not an occasional flash of insight here and there, but a systematic, programmatic, ongoing way of studying and controlling the world—arose only once in history, and only in one place: medieval Europe, once known as “Christendom,” where that Biblical worldview reigned supreme. That is no accident. Science could not have arisen without that worldview.
http://townhall.com/columnists...../page/full
Several other resources backing up this claim are available, such as Thomas Woods, Stanley Jaki, David Linberg, Edward Grant, J.L. Heilbron, and Christopher Dawson.

In fact, the oft repeated claim from atheists that Christianity and science are mutually exclusive is false revisionist whig history at it worse. A false history that was “created for polemical purposes”

The Two Guys to Blame for the Myth of Constant Warfare between Religion and Science – February 27, 2015
Excerpt: Timothy Larsen, a Christian historian who specializes in the nineteenth century, notes:
The so-called “war” between faith and learning, specifically between orthodox Christian theology and science, was manufactured during the second half of the nineteenth century. It is a construct that was created for polemical purposes.
No one deserves more blame for this stubborn myth than these two men:
Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the founding president of Cornell University, and
John William Draper (1811-1882), professor of chemistry at the University of New York.
– per the gospel coalition

In fact, the only ‘war’ that there has ever been between science and religion has been the war that the religion of atheistic naturalism has with science.

As I have stated several times before, assuming ‘methodological naturalism’, instead of assuming Christian Theism, as one’s starting philosophical presupposition for ‘doing science’, then that leads to the catastrophic epistemological failure of science itself,

Although the Darwinian atheist, (or the atheist in general), may firmly believe he is on the terra firma of science, (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that Darwinian atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to:

Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist (who believes Darwinian evolution to be true) is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. the illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who also must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the hopelessness of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is simply too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must also hold beauty itself to be illusory (Darwin).
Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism vs. Reality – video

It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science, indeed more antagonistic to reality itself, than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Moreover, it is not as if the presuppositions of Intelligent Design, that are necessary for even ‘doing science’ in the first place, are off somewhere hiding in a corner.

Every nook and cranny of science is literally crammed to the gills with the presuppositions of Intelligent Design.,,, Science is certainly NOT based on the presuppositions of methodological naturalism and/or atheism.

From the essential Christian presuppositions that undergird the founding of modern science itself, (namely that the universe is contingent and rational in its foundational nature and that the minds of men, being made in the ‘image of God’, can, therefore, dare understand the rationality that God has imparted onto the universe), to the intelligent design of the scientific instruments and experiments themselves, to the logical and mathematical analysis of experimental results themselves, from top to bottom, science itself is certainly not to be considered a ‘natural’ endeavor of man.
Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever found just laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature. Not one experimental result would ever be rationally analyzed since there would be no immaterial minds to rationally analyze the immaterial logic and immaterial mathematics that lay behind the intelligently designed experiments in the first place.
Again, all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism.

Verse and Music:

Colossians 2:3
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

We Are Messengers – Image Of God (Official Music Video)