(6) Pythagoras vs. (11) Albert Schweitzer

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(6) Pythagoras

"A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared!" You can't even read his name without the equation running through your head, can you? Pythagoras was more than just a triangular one-trick pony, though. The monastic Pythagorean brotherhood he led conflated mysticism and religion with mathematics, a way of thinking that later influenced Plato. He postulated that individual musical notes could be translated into mathematical equations, a notion that helped form early music theory. All of these achievements are impressive, but really, never forget that he helped make "hypotenuse" part of your vocabulary.

(11) Albert Schweitzer

Schweitzer crammed so much into his 90-year life he could have been five people. His 1906 text The Quest of the Historical Jesus proved that he was a titan in theology. He was one of Europe's best pipe organists and gained particular renown for his scholarship and interpretations of Bach. When he decided to focus on philanthropy, he went to medical school, became a doctor, and headed to Africa and built a medical mission. For these amazing achievements and his simple axiom that "Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life," Schweitzer won the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Breakdown

Pythagoras may be the bigger name, but Schweitzer's no first-round cupcake. The good doctor turned his attention to many wildly disparate fields, but there was always a common thread: he dominated these endeavors completely. Luckily for us, he decided to use his powers for good. Is it enough to overcome the Pythagorean theorem, though?

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[See the whole bracket here.]

March 18, 2009 - 9:15am
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