Trying to convince you that Albert Einstein was rejected in any way during his lifetime let alone a moron is a hard sell, considering that he was one of the most famous men on the planet at the time. But buried deep in a lifetime of utter brilliance, Einstein was saddled with one big mistake. One that it turned out wasn't a mistake at all.
Einstein, seen here chilling out and sparking a doob with Niels Bohr
To understand, you have to know a little bit about Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Not a whole lot, just the fact that it didn't allow for a static universe. Einstein believed the universe had to be static, or else the forces of gravity would cause the whole universe to contract onto itself, which it apparently wasn't doing. So, to make up for this weird conundrum, he invented something called the cosmological constant, an unknown, unchanging force that allowed him to have his cake (General Theory of Relativity) and eat it, too (stand by a static-universe model).
"Yeah, just throw an X in there, then integrate how little I give a shit."
But not too long after Einstein came up with the cosmological constant, Edwin Hubble burst his little unmoving universe bubble by finding evidence that the whole shebang was expanding. Einstein called the cosmological constant his "biggest blunder" and went to his grave thinking he was an idiot for having proposed it. And so did everyone else. For a while.
"Way to go, Einstein."
His Genius Was Rewarded By ...
Einstein didn't get heaped with scorn like some of the other geniuses on this list, so he got off with a little self-deprecation with a side of regret. And he also dropped the whole idea of the cosmological constant. But here's the thing -- it turns out he may have been right all along. Not about the universe being static, of course, but that this mysterious, unknown entity existed in the first place.
In the 1990s, scientists discovered that the universe was expanding faster than they had previously thought and that the rate of expansion was being fueled by a mysterious, unknown entity. There are several contenders up for consideration as the cause, but everyone's favorite? You guessed it: Einstein's cosmological constant. His math of the constant magically fit the bill. Also because you never go wrong when you bet on Einstein.
Future super-geniuses reading this article: Please make an effort to be photographed with your tongue out, flipping the bird, gesturing to your genitals or something similar. Cracked's 2089 PR department thanks you.
Ludwig Boltzmann had the unfortunate luck of being born with a genius brain at the wrong time. Back in the 19th century, there was a huge debate over the nature of matter. Boltzmann not only had the audacity to presuppose the existence of atoms at a time when the atomic model was still controversial among scientists, but also built every one of his brilliant theories as if there was no debate at all. How brilliant? Hang on to your test tubes, because thing are about to get sciencey.
With a beard like that, how could the man not be a genius?
For one, he pioneered the study of statistical thermodynamics, which is a field of physics that provides a framework for predicting how a large number of particles will behave in a system. So, let's say you're camping and you start a fire. Boltzmann was the guy who tried to figure out what the crap was going on in those logs on a molecular level that allowed the fire to kindle, and he used fancy math formulas to figure it out. His work ultimately paved the way for the field of quantum mechanics, which eventually paved the way for the greatest time travel show ever.
Suck it, Dr. Who.
His Genius Was Rewarded By ...
Death. He got death.
And a $5 Subway gift card.
Back then, defending the existence of atoms was akin to defending creationist version of the origins of man today. Boltzmann wasn't just forced to defend something that would be accepted as fact within a few years, he was shamed for his stubborn refusal to yield and for his so-called materialist beliefs.
Nobody ever told scientists that nonmaterial science is already called philosophy. A long series of uneven debates left nearly every other supporter of atoms silent, leaving Boltzmann as their chief defender. Even colleagues who originally agreed with him began to question atoms' existence when his work seemingly undermined previously understood laws of physics.
A Helium atom, seen here being a total dick to Physics.
The emotional burden of being the only right guy in the world, coupled with what was probably undiagnosed bipolar disorder, proved too much for Boltzmann to handle, and he hung himself in 1906, only three years before another scientist proved the undeniable existence of atoms. Nice job, science.
For more from the world of science, check out 7 Incredible Scientific Innovations Held Back by Petty Feuds and 5 Famous Inventors (Who Stole Their Big Idea).
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