You’re playing Trivial Pursuit, and the answer is just on the tip of your tongue. You know what they did, but you can’t remember their name.
Gear up for the next game with this list of people who have changed the world, but no one knows their name.
1. Man On The Moon
Who is the first man on the moon? Neil Armstrong. Second? Buzz Aldrin. Third? …. His name was Michael collins, and he had to live through several hours of orbit of the moon alone, out of contact with the rest of his team and earth. Most people forget about him. We’re lucky they remembered to bring him back down to earth.
2. The Great
There are many “Greats” throughout history. Including Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. So, what is so great about him? He practiced religious tolerance, and is the reason so many religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are being practiced today.
There are currently 14 vaccines routinely recommended, and he developed eight. So, when you go to bed and wake up without measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningitis, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, make sure to thank Maurice Hilleman.
4. Teenage Angst
It’s hard to believe that an angsty teen could be responsible for most of the world’s global conflicts, but that’s exactly what happened and his name is Gavrilo Pincip. He, with a group of friends, attempted to assassinate Franz Ferdinand. They failed, but this one act in history set of a domino effect causing World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam, Gulf War, 9/11, and the creation of ISIS.
5. Clear Water
There has been one person who has saved more lives than anyone in history, yet no one remembers his name. The man is Abel Wolman, and we should thank him because he invented the system for chlorinating drinking water.
How about Clive Parsons, credited with The steam-turbine electricity generator generates 95% of the world’s electricity. He’s the reason we celebrate Clive Parson’s Day. You don’t celebrate that day? Oh, that’s right because it doesn’t exist!
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7. Norman Who?
Norman Borlaug was a biologist who developed disease-resistant varieties of wheat, won a Nobel Peace Prize, and this is the first time you’re hearing about him. It’s estimated his findings have saved over a billion people from starvation.
8. Fertilize It
Fritz Haber basically invented fertilizer. So why don’t you know his name? He was also promoted the idea of chemical warfare in WWI. So, we’re guessing he’s someone we all wanted to forget.
9. I Helped Too!
“Fleming invented penicillin” is what you’re taught in school, but Howard Florey is the scientist who worked with him. Although they both share the Nobel prize, he’s often forgotten.
10. Wash Your Hands
Do you wash your hands after you use the washroom? Surely you wash them before you eat? You hate being asked those questions, well now you finally have someone to turn that anger towards, Ignaz Semmelweis. He came up the “germ theory” and is the reasons doctors, and YOU wash your hands.
11. Close Call
With everything that is going on in the world today, the reason for the end of the world is leaning toward nuclear holocaust. This not come as a surprise, but the world has averted many close calls with nukes. One being on September 26, 1983. Three weeks earlier the Soviet military shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007. It was falsely reported that the missile had been launched from the United States. The man who judged the reports and averted nuclear retaliation is Stanislav Petrov. At 77 years of age, he is still alive and well.
12. Three Wise Men
Many lives were affected by the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, that it’s hard to believe the situation could have been much worse. Thanks to Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov, and Boris Baranov millions of lives were saved when they dove into a nuclear reactor during the Chernobyl disaster.
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13. Crime Fighter
Do you know who is the inventor of the PCR? You don’t even know what that is, do you? Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is a technique that is used in molecular biology to amplify copies of a segment of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence.
Kary Mullis discovered this technique, and has been used to solve crimes, and helps to diagnose and understand diseases. Although, the first time you’ve heard of his name, he did get a 10 grand bonus for coming up with it.
14. Military Man
Arminius was a former officer of the Roman military. What makes him so special? He is responsible for modern day Europe’s north/south divide. He’s drove the Roman’s out of Germany at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D.
Being Hitler’s poster boy to represent “Germanic freedom” is the reason he’s been lost in history.
15. Japanese Saviour
When thinking about the holocaust it’s hard not to focus on the millions of people who have lost their lives. We tend to forget all the hero’s who were involved in ending the atrocities. One person we should be celebrating is Chiune Sugihara. He is responsible for saving approximatly 6000 jews during WWII, by writing them visas. There are stories that as he was taken away by the Japanese, he continued to write the visas and threw them out of the train window.
16. Brains And Beauty
We currently live in a world where your accomplishments are marked by your celebrity status, but this is nothing new. Just ask your grandmother who Hedy Lamarr is. She will probably tell you she is a glamour-girl actress from 1930s & ’40s. What she won’t remember is the actress was more than a pretty face. Lamarr helped to invent spread-spectrum and frequency-hopping technologies, which is how we are able to have wifi, and Bluetooth.
17. Immortal Life
Oprah is currently starring in a movie about her, so you’ll learn more, but an important woman in history you don’t know about is Henrietta Lacks. She died in 1951, and her cells are the foundation of cancer research.
Only time will tell, but one day she might be the reason we reason humans reach mortality, and for that she should never be forgotten.
18. Bombs Away
Lise Meitner is responsible for the invention of the Atom bomb. Her insights lead to the discovery of Nuclear Fision. How does someone go unrecognized for such an accomplishment? It’s been debated that she hadn’t recieved the nobel prize for it because she was a woman, Jewish, or probably both.
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Alhazen also known as Ptolemy II in Europe during the Renaissance and the smartest man to have lived before Newton came along. You should know him as the founder of geometric optics, but you don’t. He used his discovery to estimate the height of earth’s atmosphere, discovered that white light was composed of seven colors half a millennium before Newton did, and he was one of the first analytical geometers.
What we should be most thankful for is he is responsible for the world moving on from Greek philosophy and embracing science based on experiment.
20. Play The Game
Have you ever played Tetris and wondered “who the heck invented this, and why?” We don’t know why, but we do know the inventor of the beloved game is Alexey Pajitnov. That game is awesome, and you know it.
Rosalind Franklin discovered the double helix structure of DNA. Now, you’re probably thinking no she didn’t Watson and Crick discovered that. Well, she did infact make the discovery, but her findings and the credit was stolen from her.
Security guards get no respect. We make fun of them as being lesser than cops, but Frank Wills is a security guard to be remembered. He is responsible for starting the investigations into Nixon’s presidential scandal. He was the security guard at the Watergate Hotel, and alerted the police to the break-in. Next time you put down a security guard remember, they have the abilty to bring down the President of the United States.
23. Mason Jars
John Landis Mason, the inventor of the Mason jar. More specifically he invented the rubber seal in the jar. Before his invention home preserves were sealed with wax, which cracked and was unreliable. Why is this so important?
Well, contaminated preserves could kill you. Canning was possible, but with the availability of the Mason Jar anyone could save foods and ship them long distances and eat things out of season. It completely changed people’s lives allowing farmers to sell their entire crop, not just the stuff they could sell before it spoiled. This allowed food to be more affordable, and allowed an English man to enjoy peach preserves all the way from Georgia.
24. Man Of Many Faces
If you’re not a film buff, or a black actor you may not have heard of Sidney Poitier. It has been a slow, but steady climb for the representation in of minorities in film. Poitier was the first black actor to be cast in a non-ethnic-specific starring role as a reporter in James B. Harris The Bedford Incident.
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25. Talk Computer To Me
One of the most influential people in software is Dennis Ritchie. He was a key person in developing the C programming language and Unix. Doesn’t impress you? Well, every major operating system is largely written in C, and every major operating system apart from Windows is based on Unix.
If you’ve used a computer in the last 40 years, and you’re reading this now so that includes you, owes him a thanks. He died a few weeks after Steve Jobs and nobody really noticed.
Philo Farnsworth holds over 300 U.S. and foreign patents, but you probably can’t name any of them. His inventions contributed to the development of radar, infa-red night vision devices, the electron microscope, the baby incubator, the gastroscope, the astronomical telescope, and most importantly the television.
27. New World
There are few defining moments in history, and 9/11 is one of them. Most people think of Osama Bin Laden when they look back at that day. The men responsible for the hijacking of those planes are names no one remembers. We won’t list their names not wanting to glorify their crimes, but those men have completely changed the United States, but the entire world.
Alan Turing is now often thought of as the father of the computer, but it would be hard for Turing to do what he did if it weren’t for Charles Babbage, an English mathematician in the mid 19th century. His proto-computers laid the foundation for Turing and the computing revolution of the 20th century.
John Bardeen is the inventor of the transistor. What is that? It allows electronics to process 1’s vs 0’s. Those hours you waste liking and sharing memes on Facebook, that’s his fault.
30. Civil Rights
When you think of the leaders of civil rights you think Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Few people know of the man who came before him. His name is Marcus Garvey and he is the man who truly kickstarted the civil rights movement. He started Rastafarianism, as well, so next time you’re “jammin'” thank him.
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31. No Lead
The fact that you’re alive and relatively healthy is thanks to one man: Clair Cameron Patterson. We can thank him for getting lead out of gasoline and as well as other products.
The sewage system is the most important inventions in human history. Joseph Bazalgette the inventor we should thank for not having to stew in our own filth.
33. Copy and Paste
There are many things that technology has made easier, but it would all be lost without two funtions: “copy” and “paste”. Thanks to Larry Tesler for the amazing time saver.
Bill W. is the author of the second all time best selling book. It has helped millions of people, and lead to the support group Alcoholics Anonymous.
35. Out Of The Park
Baseball is a beloved American past time, but it wouldn’t be what it is today without Marvin Miller. He is responsible for starting the first major league baseball players union. It has not only shaped major league baseball, but every major American sports free agency and collective bargaining.
You won’t see him in the hall of fame, though. As you can imagine Major League Baseball owners did not like him much.