Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Battle Royale

Pick a scientist, living or dead, who you think would win in a giant, no-holds-barred fight against every other scientist. Show your work.

Inspiration here.

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at (ABOUT) 3pm ET.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. I can tell you Erwin Schroedinger will win, or I can tell you he’ll compete, but unfortunately I can’t tell you he’d do both at the same time.

  2. Albert Einstein, highly trained as a patent officer 3rd class, would simply use General Relativity – the Swiss Army Knife of science – to take out every competitor. I’M TALKING TO YOU NEWTON! COME AND GET A TASTE OF MY SPECIAL THEORY, GALILEO!

    The hair alone is worth a cople of points.

  3. Though not strictly a scientist (or ONLY a scientist) Old Teddy Roosevelt will hide in the woods, drag every opponent to the top of a mountain and throw them off. After, he’ll snap Microsoft in half just for shits and giggles.

  4. Richard Feynman, who would use simple little diagrams to measure the quantum properties of the electromagnetic fields around the competitors to stunning accuracy.

    And then he’d rock out on the bongos.

  5. Time Cube Guy.

    He’d do in the dumb EVIL EDUCATORS with his powerhouse four simultaneous 4-CORNER earth rotation. Then his cunning intellect more powereful than ANY DAMN MAN OR GOD THAT EVER EXISTED would crush the ONEISTIC ANITPODE and finally deliver the killing blow by morphing into his GODISM VIVIPARIOUS FORM IN ABOVE-REALITY.

    No contest.

  6. If I can have a group, I’ll take the Italian Stallions, ’cause nobody brings the crazy like they do:

    Tesla, Volta, Galvani, and as anchorman – Dr. Emilio Lizardo

  7. Carl Sagan, ’cause he’d bring his invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire.

    The others wouldn’t stand a chance!

  8. Oh, and for those citing Carl Sagan, some supporting evidence: the most recent issue of Atomic Robo proved quite conclusively that Carl’s a crack shot with a lightning gun (and a badass one-liner).

  9. I’m also rooting for Nikola Tesla. Two words: DEATH RAY. Hard to beat.

    Indeed, Tesla was a Croatian Serb. He also had a great mustache, and was, like me, an electrical engineer. Therefore, awesome.

    Add in the fact that he was obsessive-compulsive, so he wouldn’t stop until all of the other ones were dead. And then go to a prime-numbered hotel room to take a nap.

  10. My favorite scientists are Mendel, Bohr, and Linnaeus. I can’t think of any reason why any of them would win (aside from the Bohring pun), except that I would get in the ring and kick ass for them because I want them to win.

  11. @Gabriel:
    Unfortunately for our favorite Croatian Serb, he has already been trounced by Thomas Edison. If you can’t beat the wizard of Menlo Park, what chance do you have against a real scientist – like Reed Richards or Jimmy Neutron?

  12. @ jblumenfeld

    Thomas Edison can go sit on his broken crap lightbulbs.

    Tesla hadn’t thought up the death ray when that shit went down. He was too busy making the fat bastard’s crap designs work efficiently.

  13. Personally, I’d love to see Newton and Leibniz battle to the death. I don’t know which would win, but it would surely be an interesting fight to watch.

  14. Marie Curie, but only if we’re in the Stan Lee universe where radiation always turns you into a superhero. Then she’d be Radium Woman and have green glowing eyes and fire particle beams from her fingertips. “Death Ray”? She’d kick Tesla’s ass.

  15. Fugita-Japanese scientist who developed the F scale on Tornadoes.

    Newton’s Apple Saucer is pretty much a widowmaker, but Darwin’s Bulldog Fight can handle it.

    However, it has little defence against Asimov’s Robot X3.

    But, the X3 is defenseless against Franklin’s Shocker, which can really tear some people up.

    But not even Franklin can stand up to Tesla’s Death Ray.

    While Tesla’s Death Ray ability is quite formittable, its completely useless against Einstein and his Black Hole-a very powerful defense.

    The problem with that, though, is Hawkings and his Proton Radiation, which completely neutralizes the Black Hole Defense, and goes offensive.

    Hawkings stands pretty well until he comes up against Plaitt and his Gamma Ray Burst, which reflects all attacks and adds trample.

    Plaitt would start kicking some heads until he comes up against Kapana, and the Refractive Index-an almost inpenatrable defense.

    I say almost, because Heisenburg, with his Uncertainty, which, like it sounds, makes any move, offensive or defensive, collapse back on the assailant.

    With moves like that, he’s unstoppable, until Fugita comes along, with his Winds of Change. It’s an area effect move, where there is NO DEFENSE whatsoever.

  16. @catgirl: ehh, when defeated, Mendel could pass on his powers to another scientist, but Schrodenger could split that, and basically nullify it.

    Hadamard could easily dissipate the power from Bohr’s Atomic Slice.

    Linnaeus, IMHO, would be best not as an active fighter, but as support. His Binomial Nomenclature could combine two scientists into one-that would be totally badass!

  17. Tycho Brahe, and his x-treme dueling vs. Tesla with a hand-held device (schematics sadly lost), nick-named ‘The lightning rod.’

    Tesla would win of course, Brahe’s sword being made of metal. But I like to think of them circling and discussing ala The Princess Bride until a truce is called, wine is brought and they both head stagger out together to take an incomprehensible theory of space travel to that “poor locked up bastard” Galileo.

  18. No weapons: Edwin Hubble. He was a pretty accomplished amateur athlete, including as a boxer.

    Weapons: Tesla, he’s got the death ray. Oppenheimer has the bomb but generally the object of a fight isn’t to cause your own death and with the bomb you have to be a safe distance away.

  19. Damn I love sitting here at the cool table and soaking all the smarts from you guys!

    I now have a super long list of things to learn about… Take that private Christian School “education”! I WIL find understanding with science!!!! So there!

  20. Galileo. First he’ll rock your world view, then he’ll rock your world!
    And c’mon, it took the entire Catholic Church to take him down last time; The Steves don’t stand a chance.

  21. I’m also going to pick Carl Sagan, because when I was a wee tyke, he made science in general and astronomy in particular endlessly fascinating to me. He inspired the imagination, which is something that absolutely none of my subsequent science teachers all through my schoolin’ career ever managed to do. The main thing I got out of watching “Cosmos” in elementary school days was that nearly every scientific discovery raises yet more mysteries; “somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

    On the other hand, every time I see Steven Pinker, I immediately picture his face photoshopped onto the album cover of Peter Frampton’s “Comes Alive!”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single note of a Peter Frampton song, but that visual is very amusing to me.

  22. @IBY:
    Von Neumann was a closer fit for Strangelove, besides which he created Game Theory, he’d predict everyone’s strategies before the battle even started.

  23. In the Dr. Bruce Banner/Batman vein, sorry dudes…
    Agatha Heterodyne is a MAD scientist capable of converting an entire travelling circus into battle “clanks” (robots), making death rays, and creating electric swords to fight slaver wasps in a couple of minutes flat.

  24. @cypressgreen: Agatha Heterodyne is a MAD scientist capable of…


    Yeah, but Batman is a tactical genius whose super-power is unlimited wealth. And besides, Batman always wins.

    Von Neumann wouldn’t even fight Batman, because he would be able to predict why and how Batman would win, but not how to defeat him. Because Batman always wins. Gödel would realize that in any system he could create, there would be one sentence that was true, but not provable within the system… and that sentence would describe how Batman was going to win.

    Einstein would realize, after a quick gedankenexperiment, B = aw2 and is a constant, or in laymans terms: Batman always wins.

    Feynman would be stunned by the realization that anti-Batman is just Batman travelling backwards in time, and that’s just one of many reasons that Batman always wins.

  25. Dr Who. If you kill him, he regenerates goes back in time and takes out your great grandparents. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Time Lord!

  26. i cant believe no one mentioned Gordon Freeman! this guy takes down hardened black ops guys and alien queens and hes a theoretical physicist!

  27. Based on numbers alone, I don’t think that any one scientist could survive a fight against every other scientist. Unless, of course, there is one scientist made untouchable because they are in charge of the funding for all other scientists’ work.

  28. David Suzuki – after he vanquishes all the other scientists with the incredible power of COMMON SENSE, he will go on to his rightful place as Emperor of Earth. Also, all animals, plants, microbes and children are on his side, so he could take out pretty much anyone from his living room. He wouldn’t kill scientists, however, he’d just show them who was boss and then employ them in his Utopian future. Anyone who can conquer McDonald’s can conquer the world.

  29. Feynman. Growing up as a poor, nerdy, radio-fixing jewish kid in brooklyn, I’m sure he got enough beatdowns that he eventually became a tough mofu.

  30. I think this thread has pretty much roughed out the design for the next Steve Jackson cardgame. Or at least the next Munchkin expansion!

    If all contestants get to use modern resources, then I say it comes down to Tesla and Archimedes. Duel of the Death Rays!

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