11 people who should be your heroes…

As a science grad and junkie, it always irks me that people know more about Hollywood celebrities than people who have made real contributions to mankind.  Why Alec Baldwin makes the news for getting tossed off a plane while the death of a guy who saved billions doesn’t, absolutely blows my mind.

Let’s take a diversion from the usual and take a look at 11 less obvious scientists who should be everybody’s heroes but are not because apparently eradicating smallpox is less important than Justin Bieber’s contribution to humanity.

Edward Jenner – Pioneer of the smallpox vaccine.  Also known as the father of immunology.  You and your children are not dying of smallpox today because of his work.  In fact his groundwork and theories may one day lead to the cure of AIDS, arthritis and other afflictions of the immune system.  Sadly less known than the vampire of the same name.

“You’re welcome.”

Alexander Fleming.  Discovers penicillin and creates world’s first antibiotic.  The guy essentially changed the path of modern medicine and the treatment of bacterial infections forever.  But not important because he never signed a record deal.

“You’re welcome.”

James Watson and Francis Crick.  Discovers the double-helix structure of DNA leading to the field of modern genetics and the basis of every CSI episode ever penned.

“You’re welcome.”

 Norman Borlaug.  Developed a strain of disease resistant wheat that saved over a billion people from starvation in Pakistan and India.  Died in 2009.  TMZ didn’t bother to cover the funeral.

“You’re welcome.”

Louis Pasteur.  Your milk is pasteurized because this guy was awesome.  Considered one the founders of microbiology and provided the evidence for the Germ Theory of Disease.  You know not to eat the Twinkie lying in your front yard because of this guy.  At least his name makes it on every milk carton ever sold.

“You’re welcome.”

Alexander Parkes.  The guy invented plastic.  He’s the reason China’s in business today.  His invention is the modern world.  Though a greater contribution to the world might those kicking sideburns.

“You’re welcome.”

Alessandro Volta.  The man invented the battery in 1800.  He’s the pioneer of anything not plugged in.  He rocked so hard, they named a unit of measure after him.

“You’re welcome.”

Jonas Salk.  There’s a reason you’re not suffering from polio today and the reason is Jonas Salk.  When asked if he was going cash in by patenting the vaccine, he responded “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”  Just take comfort in knowing that no matter what you do, you will never be quite as awesome as Jonas Salk.

“You’re welcome.”

James E. Till and Ernest A. McCulloch.  Two Canadian scientists who proved the existence of stem cells.  Whatever moral position you take on stem cells, know that they will change the course of medicine forever.  As the two scientists essentially discovered the potential fountain of regenerative youth, rest assured they will one day be as famous as Snooki.

“You’re welcome in advance.”