Many of us have heard the stories, and some of us may have even re-told them to make us seem like the brainbox at the party. We hate to break it to you, but there are some famous myths about how famous discoveries were made.
Benjamin Franklin and his kite
Many of us have heard the tale. Benjamin Franklin flies a kite attached to a key to prove that lightning is formed of electricity. The truth? There is no evidence that this ever happened. It looked as though it could have been Benjamin himself that told the tale. Why? Many believe that he proved his point but wanted a story that people would remember to make sure that his legend went down in history forever.
Charles Darwin and finches
The Origin of Species is a theory that changed the world as we know it. Charles Darwin was the man behind it all after he traveled the world in search of proof. It’s believed that finches’ beaks were the clue that he needed to get the wheels in motion. However, Charles doesn’t mention them anywhere throughout his theory. In fact, it was David Lack who wrote about the shape of their beaks. The book was titled Darwin’s Finches, and it looks as though the lines got a little blurry along the way.
Alexander Fleming and penicillin
It’s true that Alexander Fleming would often have penicillin growing in his messy lab, but the scientists didn’t put two and two together. Although Fleming did a handful of experiments with the medicine, he later gave up on the idea as he thought penicillin came with a host of limitations. It was later Howard Florey and Sir Ernst Boris Chain who discovered the full potential of penicillin, but they credited Fleming’s paper as their inspiration which led to the confusion.
Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa
The legend tells of Galileo and his climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s said he dropped two items off the top to decide once and for all if weight affects the speed something falls. However, it turns out that Galileo never claimed to have performed this experiment. It’s believed that his pupil and biographer, Vincenzo Viviani, mentioned the test in one of his accounts of Galileo’s life, and historians have taken that as proof ever since.
Einstein and his wife
It looked as though Einstein wasn’t alone with his Theory of Relativity. No, the theoretical physicist supposedly had help from his wife, Mileva. The couple worked together for some of the research, but things never went much further. In fact, Mileva never mentions that she was involved in the theory. Einstein’s notes led to the confusion as people wondered if his wife had more of a role in his discoveries than met the eye. Sadly, it appears not.
Discoveries can be amazing, but sometimes it’s their stories that make them even more impressive. While the tales might not always be what they appear, these famous discoveries certainly still have changed the world.