At an Internet conference in Hungary during the past (too brief) several days, I met several people who would be standouts in any culture. Their intelligence and curiosity about the world reminded me of something my brother, Wiley, and I have talked about from time to time: Call it the Hungarian Greatness Quotient, perhaps.
Here’s a short list we drew up, for starters, of accomplished native Hungarians from the past century:
Science & Math:
John von Neumann
Theodore von Kármán
George de Hevesy
I sent a note to Andy Grove, one of the most prominent members of the list. He suggested adding Albert Szentgyorgyi, inventor of Vitamin C, and noted that there’s a book about all this by a Budapest professor, George Marx.
The “Men from Mars” title of this post comes from semi-humorous speculation that the Manhattan Project Hungarians must have come from another planet — they were so brilliant, the theory went, that this was as good an explanation as any for such a small nation producing so much talent. You can learn more in this essay by Marx, derived, I believe, from his book.
What does all this have to do with citizen media? Not much, I grant, but consider the Hungary Page and its giant list of famous Hungarians. If you know of any, you can submit their names, too.
The site is one of those publications that could not have existed before the Web. Now, we can make lists of anything, and everything.