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Men from Mars

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:

Béla Bartók
Zoltán Kodály
Georg Solti
George Szell
Antal Dorati
Christian Dohnanyi
Eugene Ormandy

Science & Math:
John von Neumann
Theodore von Kármán
Edward Teller
Leó Szilárd
Eugene Wigner
Paul Erdös
John Kemeny
George de Hevesy
Andy Grove
George Soros

Erno Rubik
Arthur Koestler
Elie Wiese

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.

5 Comments on “Men from Mars”

  1. #1 Ferenc Pecsi
    on Oct 19th, 2006 at 8:59 am

    Thank you…:-)

    (The guy from the breakfast table in Tihany)

  2. #2 Onlinemarketing blog - online marketing
    on Oct 19th, 2006 at 10:40 am

    Ezt nem kúrtuk el…

    Építgette az országimázst az Internet Hungary. Mert a meghívott előadók nemcsak nekünk meséltek, hanem mesélnek majd rólunk is. És ez jó, mert valahogy úgy sikerült, hogy a jobbik arcunkat mutassuk. (Van már autópálya Tihanyig (igaz, …

  3. #3 Anna
    on Oct 19th, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    I bet it’s epigenetic, comes from early exposure to all those consonants. Hungarian notation indeed…

  4. #4 Luis Villa
    on Oct 20th, 2006 at 5:20 am
  5. #5 Milverton Wallace
    on Oct 24th, 2006 at 5:51 am

    To the music list, add György Ligeti, the great composer who died earlier this year. I went to his 80th birthday celebration at the Barbican a couple of years ago. The highlights of the weekend, which consisted of concerts, films, workshops and discussions, included a performance of Le Grand Macabre, his only opera, the piano Etudes performed by his favourite pianist, Pierre -Laurent Aimard and a performance of polyphonic music by the Aka pygmies from central Africa.

    To mark his birthday, The London Guardian also carried a rare interview with the great man. See,12102,1064091,00.html