A friend (MRM) and I were talking recently about fame and how oddly it is distributed --- specifically, how few living electrical engineers a typical person-in-the-street could name. (Zero?) The same holds in other technological and artistic arenas ... in contrast to the notoriety, however fleeting, awarded to sports figures, media stars, politicians, and the like. Maybe that says something about human nature, or about modern society?
But on a positive note, consider the most famous scientist of all, Albert Einstein. The Caltech News that just arrived (v.36, n.1, 2002) contains a little article, "Editing Einstein", by Hillary Bhaskaran. It talks about the Einstein Papers Project (cf. ), an effort to sort out and publish Big Al's correspondence. The team, led by associate professor of history Diana Kormos-Buchwald, is now working on volume 9 of a projected 29.
Kormos-Buchwald notes that as Einstein's public appeal grew, "... the media took great advantage of him. But he learned to take advantage of the media. ... [H]e felt a responsibility to do something with the reputation and fame that accompanied him."
And in a most striking observation she continues, "I believe, for some reason that is not yet clear to me and that is worth exploring further, that Einstein was good-hearted in a simple way."
Good-hearted in a simple way. Perhaps that's key....