A passage from a student on the internet: "I'ma physics student, and I am currently furious about the way my university hasresponded to my ADD. One of the many reasons I'm mad is that ADD seems to bealmost essential to the makeup of a great physicist or mathematician."
I keep reading about true geniuses (creative people, not human calculators,who generally die without making any contribution more significant than, say, acolumn in Parade Magazine) who fit the ADD profile. How these people got by thebean-counters of academia and achieved success is a mystery to me.
1. Archimedes: known for a flash of insight that came to him whilebathing. Alleged to have run down the street screaming with joy, failing tonotice that he was completely naked. Even in Greece, this was considered oddbehavior, especially on a weekday. A tactless person, he was killed forinsulting an ignorant soldier who got on his nerves.
2. Isaac Newton: he entered college at the age of 18 and failed todistinguish himself in any way. He was extremely forgetful, had a habit ofworking very late and missing his meals, and had trouble controlling hisimpulsive nature. On the other hand, he did manage to invent calculus andrewrite physics from the ground up, making almost every physicist ormathematician who had ever lived up look like a complete simpleton.
3. Leonard da Vinci: not really a physicist, but possessed greatmathematical ability and made loads of creative, brilliant observations aboutthe physical world. He was an underachiever, leaving a body of work that wassmall in proportion to his ability. He left jobs unfinished, and he movedimpulsively from one occupation to another. He was so strongly afflicted withinspiration that he carried a notebook with him so he could record a reasonablepercentage of the ideas that poured into his mind during the course of a day.
Guess I could also stick Michelangelo in here, since he got so lostand worked so long painting the Sistine Chapel, his shoes had to be cut from hisfeet when he came down from the scaffold. I have never heard anything about himbeing forgetful or irresponsible, though, and I don't know if his achievementsin areas related to physics were as impressive as Leonardo's.
4. Ampere: the French physicist who gave us Ampere's law couldn'tremember a damn thing. During lectures, he blew his nose on a rag used to erasethe board, because he thought it was a handkerchief. He is said to havemistaken the roof of a carriage for a blackboard, even though he was outdoors atthe time. He started writing equations on it with a piece of chalk, and when itpulled away, he ran after it while trying to complete his work.
5. Buckminster Fuller: not a physicist, but a visionary whose workrequired him to study math and physics. At 32, he was a complete loser, unableto hold a job or support his family. At this late age, he impulsively startedstudying math and science, working at it for long sessions that often lastedfrom one day until the following morning. Oddly enough, it worked, and now weremember him as a mental giant instead of an irresponsible deadbeat.
6. Leo Szilard: this is the guy generally given credit for inventingthe atom bomb. Walking down a London street, he unexpectedly realized thatbombarding a suitable substance with neutrons could cause a chain reaction,releasing a huge amount of energy. Because he was not a practical person, hedid a lousy job of protecting his rights as the inventor of the nuclear reactor. Eventually, the U.S. government paid him a tiny fraction of what the patentwould have been worth.
During World War II, Szilard was investigated by the government because hewas considered a security risk. The agents watching him noticed someinteresting things. He often walked out of buildings without his hat and coat(in Chicago) because he had left them inside on a rack or in a closet. Hesometimes started walking down the street, stopped for no apparent reason,seemed to try to remember something, and then turned around and walked the otherway.
7. Albert Einstein: as a student, he often lost the key to hisapartment and had to wake his landlady in the middle of the night. In spite ofhis intelligence, he was denied admission to college because he failed a biologytest. During his time at Princeton, he was noted for walking out of his houseand into the snow, wearing house shoes. He said he had to be very careful whenshaving, because so many inspirations came to him at this time, and he worriedthat the shock of a blast of insight would cause him to cut himself.