Carl Barks and the ducks did so much for the scientific world that Cornell University named an asteroid after him. This was, of course, after he was published in a scientific journal for his comic book that accidentally discovered a new molecule ...
A 1944 Donald Duck comic had the titular Donald being struck on the head while helping his nephews with their science experiment. He then invents an explosive called "Duckmite."
Carl Barks had absolutely no background in science or chemistry and, much like his ship-raising technique, believed at the time that he was just pulling it all out of a duck's ass. Twenty years later, Disney received a letter from Joseph B. Lambert at the California Institute of Technology, informing them of an article about to be published in the New York Academic Press called "The Spin States of Carbenes." The article referenced "literature of no less than 19 years ago," which was considered the first published work depicting a new carbene called Methylene. A carbene that the scientific world had only just discovered.
S ... science?
Barks had apparently made reference to methylene, described as CH2, almost 20 years before science could prove its existence. Oddly enough, it wasn't even Disney that caught the reference, but one of the real-life doctors that actually discovered the stuff: Dr. Gaspar, who had a "long-standing esteem for the adventures of Donald Duck." So far, we've seen Donald Duck enthusiasts that are international patent officers, world-famous directors and respected scientists. Clearly, there is a vast conspiracy of powerful and influential people who communicate exclusively via duck comic.
Even more insane: A year later, Disney got another letter, this time from Richard Greenwald, a scientist at Harvard. It let them know that not only had Donald Duck discovered Methylene years before, but that, in the comic, Donald also used Methylene to react with other substances in what was later confirmed to be a scientifically accurate way. And he did it "many years before 'real chemists' thought to do so."
Those were the "real chemist's" own words: "Dang, that duck is way smarter than we are!"
Carl Barks was the most prolific writer and artist for the Disney Duck comics. He's responsible for four out of five entries on this list, and is therefore unarguably the father of the entire modern world. But possibly Bark's greatest contribution was the influence of Scrooge McDuck on one Osamu Tezuka. Don't recognize the name? Well, Tezuka has a few nicknames, like "The Father of Manga," or "The Godfather of Anime." If you've still got a blank stare on your face, then we'll just tell you he's the guy responsible for this:
He's also responsible for a few characters that weren't all that popular over here, like Black Jack and Kimba the White Lion, the latter of which Disney shamelessly stole -- you know, as back-payment for all of the sweet, sweet inspiration their guy doled out earlier.
Tezuka's work basically invented manga after World War II, which in turn inspired the cartoon form anime. Tezuka himself says that he owes absolutely all of this to none other than Scrooge McDuck. Tezuka's entire artistic style -- including such trademarks as the overly large, cutesy eyes and small mouths -- can still be seen today as defining aspects of Japanese animation. His work became the basis for all manga, ever, and Tezuka has confirmed that the basis for his work was Barks' Scrooge McDuck.
If you combine the two, you get one complete outfit at least.
This means that without characters like this:
The world would have never had characters like this:
The real shame is that the properties are owned by different, not entirely friendly companies, so the two artist's works will never meet in film or print. Well other than all those greeting cards Tezuka sent to Barks throughout his life, thanking him for the inspiration.
There are more secrets to be learned about the Duck family in our new book.
For more insight into the cartoon world, check out 7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes and 5 Classic Cartoons They Don't Want You To See.