Interesting People

  • Adolf Eichmann – ‘Banality of Evil’
  • Alberto Fujimori – Controversial Peruvian president from 1990 to 2000. Lead Peru’s socioeconomic progress through drastic measures whilst charged with authoritarianism.
  • Anthony Ray Hinton – Innocent man went to death row in Alabama for 28 years.
  • Aryabhata – Born in 476AD, he devised foundational mathmatical concepts in numbers, trignometry and astronomy, with works that found their way to Arabia and thence into Europe.
  • Alan Turing – Genius. Came up with concepts of the Turing machine, the Turing test, morphology etcetera. Broke the German Enigma codes among others during WWII. Convicted of homosexuality and subjected to chemical castration. Committed suicide. Also, could run marathons.
  • Carl Sagan – Famous US scientist-turned-public-figure. Quotes such as “We’re about to begin a journey through the cosmos. We’ll encounter galaxies and suns and planets life and consciousness coming into being, evolving and perishing. Worlds of ice and stars of diamond. Atoms as massive as suns and universes smaller than atoms. But it’s also a story of our own planet and the plants and animals that share it with us.And it’s a story about us: How we achieved our present understanding of the cosmos how the cosmos has shaped our evolution and our culture and what our fate may be.
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss – Great mathematician.
  • Chanakya – Lived from 370-283BCE. Taught at Taxila. Was instrumental in the rise of the Mauryan Empire. Perhaps his greatest achievement is authoring the Arthshastra. He is said to have been a master of statecraft and strategy.
  • Fernão Lopes – Tortured, then solitary life on St Helena
  • Frederick II“A man of extraordinary culture, energy, and ability – called by a contemporary chronicler stupor mundi (the wonder of the world), by Nietzsche the first European, and by many historians the first modern ruler – Frederick established in Sicily and southern Italy something very much like a modern, centrally governed kingdom with an efficient bureaucracy.”
  • Freeman Dyson – My first encounter with his ideas was when I come across the concept of a Dyson Sphere. The idea was striking. Has interesting perspective. For example, see this.
  • George Washington – George Washington willingly gave up power twice. The second time when he completed two terms and could’ve easily served a third. Surrendering power is true testament to character. Not to mention his role in founding a democratic country and giving it a stellar system of government.
  • Hanna Reitsch
  • Heinrich Barth – A European who took the time to understand Africa the right way, contributing to our knowledge of Saharan Africa in the 1800s.
  • Ibn Sina – Persian polymath. Wrote “The Canon of Medicine” (al-Qānūn fī al-Ṭibb), influential medical textbook for many centuries.
  • Idris Alooma – Saharan king who mixed Islamic orthodoxy with modern innovation to build a lasting kingdom.
  • J. B. S. Haldane – Engaging, unorthodox views. highly imaginative and engaged with the world, had perspective. Opinions worth reading if only for the perspective they lend.
  • Jacob Fugger – Bankrolled the Hapsburgs, controlled commodities trade, introduced the savings account, began the practice of selling indulgences. Quite fascinating.
  • Lucretius Cornelius Sulla – Sulla’s decision to seize power … permanently destabilized the Roman power structure.
  • Marie Curie – I feel she embodied the qualities of a true scientist. Combining humanity and intellect to give us her life’s work.
  • Muhammad al-Khwarizmi – Persian polymath. Systematized algebra, wrote books that introduced algebra to the world. “Algorithm” comes from his name.
  • Munir Redfa
  • Louis Zamperini – Ran marathons, survived a WWII plane crash, captured by the Japanese, survived their attempts to break him, became a born-again Christian.
  • Norman Borlaug [1] – The most under-appreciated scientist. Saved countless lives through the Green Revolution. His anonymity in relation to his achievements underscore his humble, self-effacing nature.
  • P Sainath – Indian journalist and photojournalist focusing on social & economic inequality, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermath of globalization in India. Founded People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI).
  • Richard Feynman – Famous physicist. Ability to clearly explain concepts. Famous anecdotes. Possessed a charming, child-like curiosity.
  • Squanto – Native American, 1585-1622, crossed Atlantic 6 times, learnt English, met and supposedly helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter, a person of the Old World who saw much of the New World.
  • Thomas Sankara – Africa’s Che Guevera, assassinated by entrenched powers opposed to his policy of radical social empowerment.
  • Wernher von Braun – “Father of Rocket Science”. Suspect ethical conduct. Changes sides. Great scientist.
  • Witold Pilecki
  • Wu Hongda (Harry Wu) – First imprisoned in the Chinese gulags, or laogai, and then helped expose them.

Leave a Reply