Orville Wright flew airplanes, Sir Humphrey Davy dabbled in discovering important chemical elements, and Nikola Tesla was enchanted by the power of electricity. While their contributions to science are typically well known, many people are unaware of some of the odd quirks they possessed in the name of science.
When it comes to aviation, the Wright brothers are well known, but what you probably don’t know is some of the quirks of Orville Wright. The man numbered the eggs that his chicken laid so that he could feast upon them in the exact order that they had been produced. He also had a fear of public appearances so extreme that when he got a chance to meet President Franklin Roosevelt in Wright’s hometown (Dayton, Ohio), he reluctantly agreed to meet him for lunch. Later that day, Wright was invited to the back of the president’s touring car and when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped out of the car and walked home after thanking the president for lunch. The cheering crowds made Wright feel extremely uneasy. Besides successfully inventing and constructing the first flyable airplane in the world (along with his brother), Orville was also a printer, publisher, bicycle retailer and manufacturer, and pilot trainer.
When it comes to flying, at least the Orville brothers believed that the action required equipment. Nikola Tesla, whose claim to fame centers on his work with electricity, had a fascination with birds that he took too seriously. After studying birds in the local woods, he got it in his head that people had the ability to fly. With an umbrella in hand, he climbed the roof of his family barn and jumped. As a result, the inventor suffered six weeks of traction and to say the least, did not attempt this course of research again.
The patents and theoretical work of Tesla would later become the foundation of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, such as the AC motor, with ultimately played an important role in the Second Industrial Revolution.
Sir Humphrey Davy
Providing the ability to see in darkness, Sir Humphrey Davy invented the miner’s lamp, but had a curious way about him when it came to fishing. As an avid angler, he believed that he would get better results if he wore clothing that resembled natural greenery. When he went out to catch fish, he wore green pants, green hat, and a green coat. Ironically, he did not take this approach when it came time to hunt. Distrusting the aim of other hunters, he wore brightly colored clothing and a large red hat with a wide brim.
When Sir Humphrey Davy was wearing his chemist and inventor hat, the British scientist discovered a handful of alkali and alkaline earth metals. Because of him, the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine was uncovered. He also influenced many chemists to follow behind his work.