Talked Out Of His Ass About: "Jewish science"
AIDS is still pretty controversial these days, but you know what's not controversial? Nazism. Shockley might have been a clueless eccentric and Mullis might be LSD-addled, but Phillipp Lenard was a plain old Nazi Aryan supremacist.
Sure, everybody in Germany was a Nazi back then if they wanted to get by, but he dove into the philosophy with gusto and joined the Nazis before it was the cool thing. So that just makes him a jerk. Here's what makes him stupid: He had previously won the Nobel Prize for his work on cathode rays, and as a Nobel Prize winner, he started to think he was an expert on "science," which as I've explained above, is like saying you're an All-Star in "sports."
Extending his reach beyond his grasp, Lenard went from thinking German people were superior to thinking that German people doing science could somehow make the actual science German. He felt that so-called German physics (Deutsche Physik) was superior to "Jewish physics" being espoused by wrong and stupid Jews like Albert Einstein.
Look at that drooling moron.
Being a physicist fully qualified him to say things like: "Science, like every other human product, is racial and conditioned by blood." It was an objective and unbiased opinion and surely had nothing to do with the fact that he had hurt feelings from a personal falling-out with Einstein.
Lenard's book. I don't know why anyone would take science advice from a guy who couldn't even spell "physics."
In 1932, by which time his opinions on the inherent nationality of physics had been made quite clear, Lenard received a Franklin Medal (a science award) from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, causing Ben Franklin's corpse to spontaneously combust.
Hell, Nicaragua was still honoring him in 2001.
To no one's surprise, the Nazis also liked Lenard's ideas. He was appointed Hitler's chief of Aryan physics, whatever the hell that means. His reputation helped make Deutsche Phsyik such a prevailing paradigm in Nazi Germany that brilliant scientists like Werner Heisenberg were harassed and ostracized for studying anything Jewish scientists like Einstein were studying.
Like bagel mechanics.
By the middle of World War II, however, even the Nazis realized that attaching "German" and "Jewish" labels to scientific facts was stupid. They encouraged Heisenberg's pursuit of "Jewish physics" theories which provided for most of the German advances in nuclear science, but it was too little too late. The actual Jewish scientists they had exiled long before had been hard at work in the U.S., eventually placing the war-ending weapon in American hands instead of in German hands, where it might have had changed history a bit.
Sometimes things have a way of working out.
Talks Out Of His Ass About: Other physics specialties... and telepathy.
I've mentioned chemists talking out of their asses about biology and the like, but here's a physicist talking out of his ass about another physics specialty. Even within a field, there is so much sciencing to be done that one guy can't know it all.
Now Brian Josephson is an expert in a particular kind of physics, namely the kind that has the word, "Josephson" in it, such as the "Josephson effect," which he won his Nobel for, and the "Josephson junction" invention derived from it. The remarkable coincidence of discovering things that shared his name may have led him to a belief in destiny and the supernatural, which he quit physics to study after winning his Nobel.
He then adopted the customary crazy hair required for this career change.
As you can see from Josephson's Web page, he is the director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project at Cambridge University where he is working hard to keep Britain at the "forefront of research" on telepathy, as he wrote in his blurb for Britain's Royal Mail commemorative Nobel stamps in 2001. While scientists fumed about how terrible the stamp blurb was, British citizens paid their bills while reading Josephson's intriguing views on how quantum science may one day explain telepathy.
Nature addressed the issue with the hilarity you would expect from a science journal.
Josephson's homepage complains quite a bit about the party pooping scientists and how biased they are against telepathy. Closer to his area of expertise, he is also pissed about scientists pooh-poohing cold fusion (or bubble fusion in the most recent case). He's not just saying, "Let's consider the possibility," but really thinks telepathy and cold fusion have enough evidence that would "normally lead them to being accepted" if scientists weren't so closed-minded.
That is kind of a bold claim for a phenomenon like cold fusion which is basically the Michigan J. Frog of science--people always seem to discover it alone in their lab when no one is looking, and it never seems to work when other people are watching or try to do it themselves.
"I swear, he was emitting neutrons and tritium right before you came in."
If you still think there's a possibility that Josephson is just ahead of his time and the rest of us are too conventional to follow his vision, I'm going to have to point out this is a man who thinks Taco Bell serves "very good" Mexican food.
Or maybe it was just his subtle way of insulting Mexican food.
Clearly Josephson's overall grasp of science and cuisine (and web design) is tenuous, but he's still got a chance to turn things around. I suggest he buy this smoked seafood business.
It's clearly destiny.
Check out more from Christina, in 6 Ways World of Warcraft is Worse Than Real Life and The 5 Miserable VFX Jobs That Make Movies Possible.