It has become clear that it's up to the Cracked staff to re-educate America. See, we slept through high school, so we were lucky. We avoided the years and years of brainwashing that accompanies a standard education.
To those of you unfortunate enough to have been subjected to a lifetime in the public school system, we've got some bad news for you that you probably won't find in your text books: Every brilliant inventor you've ever loved is a huge, thieving asshole.
Galileo Galilee or "Gal-Gal," as he is more commonly known, was an Italian astronomer, physicist and mathematician. If you asked the average high schooler what Galileo's lasting contribution to science was, they would most likely reply "the telescope" before going off to listen to their Rhianna records and play with their Digimon, (Is that what high schoolers do these days? We don't even know anymore). Well, put down that Digital Monster, high schooler, because we are about to blow your mind: Gal-Gal did not invent the telescope. Also, Rhianna sucks.
Who Actually Invented It?
While everyone was probably looking up at the stars, no one was doing it quite as hard as Dutchman Hans Lippershey. In 1608, Lippershey completed the first ever telescope and attempted to receive a patent for it, but was denied for no discernible reason.
Lippershey's telescope (internet re-creation)
A few countries over, when Galileo heard about Lippershey's work, he quickly built his own telescope in 1609. A telescope, it should be noted, that could see just a little bit further than Lippershey's.
Necessary? Not particularly. Emasculating? Oh, you betcha. While Galileo never registered a patent for his telescope, the fact remains that his name is synonymous with the telescope, while Lippershey was most likely absent from your old textbooks.
In a final shot to show just how fairly each scientist was rewarded, four moons surrounding Jupiter are named after Galileo, and do you know what carries Lippershey's name? A crater. A fucking crater on Earth's moon will forever be known as Lippershey's Crater. The Moon's Ass Crack.
Sir Alexander Fleming is the name people think of when penicillin is brought up. There's even a charming little story that goes along with it. According to the legend, Fleming's father saved a little boy from drowning in Scotland, and the father of this boy vowed to fund the young Fleming's education to repay the kindness. Eventually, Fleming graduates med school and discovers the healing nature of penicillin which eventually saves Winston Churchill's life when he is stricken with pneumonia. And who was the little boy that Fleming's father saved in the first place? Winston motherfucking Churchill.
This would all be very cozy, if it wasn't for the fact that it's total horseshit on several counts. For one, Churchill wasn't treated with penicillin and, for another, Fleming wasn't the guy who discovered it. He was just some asshole.
Who Actually Discovered It?
Difficult to say. North African tribesmen have been using penicillin for thousands of years. Also, in 1897, Ernest Duchesne used the mold penicillum glaucoma to cure typhoid in guinea pigs which, OK, was about the stupidest waste of time in the history of science, but proof that he understood the possibilities of penicillin all the same.
Other scientists at the time didn't take him serious, due to his age and strange preoccupation with guinea pigs, so he never received a patent for his work. He died about 10 years later from a disease that would have been completely treatable with penicillin and he was survived by his healthy, yet totally indifferent guinea pigs.
Even when Fleming did accidentally discover penicillin years later, he didn't think it could actually be used to help anyone, so he stopped working on it and moved on. Meanwhile, a few other scientists, Howard Florey, Norman Heatley, Andrew Moyer and Ernst Chain started working on penicillin and eventually mastered penicillin as well as figured out a way to mass produce it.
So even though Fleming wasn't the first person to discover penicillin, and even though he didn't actually believe penicillin was in any way useful, he will forever go down in history as a penicillin-inventing, Winston-Churchill-saving genius.