Strange brains and genius : the secret lives of eccentric scientists and madmen /
Clifford A. Pickover.
New York : Plenum Trade, c1998.
xiv, 332 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
More Details
New York : Plenum Trade, c1998.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 321-325) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-11:
Pickover offers a thoroughly enjoyable collection of minibiographies containing the bizarre behaviors of many well-known scientists, inventors, and philosophers. Geniuses such as Nikola Tesla, Oliver Heaviside, Francis Galton, Albert Einstein, and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski are shown to have obsessive personalities and strange phobias. Fascinating to some will be the chapter with responses to a questionnaire involving such inquiries as, What is genius? Would you pay $5000 to increase your IQ 100 points? Although there are credible attempts to connect the strange behaviors to recent medical advances in understanding brain disorders, one is never quite sure whether the postmortem "diagnosis" is correct when done without the body, so many years after death. Anyone curious about the realm of geniuses, eccentrics, and madmen will find these pages illuminating. The bibliography is short and there are few pictures, but the biographies are presented in an alluring and penetrating manner by an internationally recognized popularizer of science. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. F. Potter; University of California, Irvine
Appeared in Library Journal on 1998-07:
In his latest offering, Pickover, an authority in computer graphics and a prolific popularizer of science (Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide, LJ 4/1/96), purports to explore the link between eccentricities and obsessive-compulsive disorder in geniuses. The bulk of his book comprises nine biographical/psychological profiles, uneven in length and applicability, of such figures as Nicola Tesla, Samuel Johnson, and Ted Kaczynski. The rest of the book is a hodgepodge of essays on brain chemistry and mental disorders, intelligence, and over 25 pages of verbatim results from an unscientific Internet questionnaire. Two appendixes round out the volume: a runners-up list and an updates-and-breakthroughs section that reads like Oliver Sacks-lite. The amount of filler in this book, from lists of Johnson's epigrams to Kaczynski's scientific papers to superfluous illustrations to the aforementioned Internet discussion, detracts from the quality of the work. Recommended only for nonresearch collections.‘Wade Lee, Univ. of Toledo Libs.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-05-26:
Filled with 200 years of eccentric geniuses, this delightful collection of profiles assembles an eclectic and fascinating sampling of scientists (as well as some artists and writers) with a far-ranging assortment of phobias, compulsions, odd belief systems and extraordinarily weird habits. Chief among the scientists is Nikola Tesla, father of alternating current and countless other electrical devices, who could be seen on New York City's streets covered in pigeons, was obsessed with the number three and repulsed by jewelry, particularly pearls. Then there is Oliver Heaviside, a Victorian mathematician and electrical researcher who painted his nails bright pink, signed his correspondence "W.O.R.M." and cruelly kept the woman charged with his care a virtual prisoner in her own house, later driving her into catatonia. Also explored are the lives of Samuel Johnson, van Gogh and legendary mathematician Paul Erdos, among others. Pickover, a high-tech inventor and researcher at IBM and a prolific author (TimeÄA Traveler's Guide; Forecasts, Apr. 20) shows genuine fondness for his subjects and an appreciation of their accomplishments, which he explains clearly and succinctly. More than simply cataloguing unusual traits, Pickover also speculates on causes and diagnoses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). This is lively and immensely enjoyable scientific history. Photos throughout. (June)
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1998
Publishers Weekly, May 1998
Library Journal, July 1998
SciTech Book News, September 1998
Choice, November 1998
School Library Journal, April 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
The Pigeon Man from Manhattanp. 9
The Worm Man from Devonshirep. 51
The Rabbit-Eater from Lichfieldp. 80
The Fly Man from Galwayp. 90
The Rat Man from Londonp. 98
The Mutton Man from Londonp. 104
The Sprained Brain from Birminghamp. 113
The Ice Man from Cornwall Gardensp. 141
The Hermit from Montanap. 157
Obsessionp. 183
Curiosity Smorgasbord
The Brain Shelterp. 201
Where on Earth Is Einstein's Brain?p. 204
Do We Really Use Only 10 Percent of Our Brain?p. 209
The Human Mind Questionnairep. 214
Epiloguep. 251
A Touch of Madnessp. 254
Runners-Up Listp. 279
Updates and Breakthroughsp. 298
Notesp. 311
Further Readingp. 321
About the Authorp. 326
Indexp. 329
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem