A hilarious look at how the line between 'genius' and 'extremely lucky idiot' is finer than we'd like to admit.
The more you delve into the stories behind history's greatest names, the more you realise they have something in common: a mystifying lack of common sense. Take Marie Curie, famous for both discovering radioactivity and having absolutely zero lab safety protocols. Or Lord Byron, who literally took a bear with him to university. Or James Glaisher, a hot-air balloon pioneer who nearly ended up as the world's first human satellite...
From Nikola Tesla falling in love with a pigeon to non-swimmer Albert Einstein's near-fatal love of sailing holidays, The Limits of Genius is filled with examples of the so-called brightest and best of humanity doing, to put it bluntly, some really dumb shit. These are the stories that deserve to be told but never are: the hilarious, regrettable and downright baffling lesser-known achievements of the men and women who somehow managed to bungle their way into our history books.
Katie Spalding spent ten years of her life studying maths, which is just about the upper limit on how much maths you can do before people start actively avoiding you at parties. Ironically, the high point of her academic career was appearing on University Challenge twice, during which times she answered zero questions on maths or science but performed surprisingly well on the 'historical cross-dressers' and 'New World monkeys' round. Katie now writes for the science news website IFLScience, and has supplied research for the TV show QI and its sister podcast No Such Thing as a Fish.
|Classical History / Classical Civilisation
|Headline Publishing Group