Spot the CV

Right, who’s clever? Well, obviously all of you, but lets see who can first name the individual described in the following summary based on his/her Wikipedia article. (Please switch your search engines off, you either know this or you don’t ;)):

This person was born on September 14, 1915 in Beijing, China. His mother was a musician, and his father a zoologist. He moved to San Francisco, California in 1927, and spent 23 years in a monastery. He became a very influential and popular amateur astronomer, and became known as the “pied piper of astronomy”. He often leverages this popularity to draw attention to his unorthodox views of cosmology.

Enough clues. Who are we talking about?


Initials JD, leader of the SF SAs, and a fun populariser of science.

Will the first person to give it away explicitly lose…? :stuck_out_tongue:


Well done 'Luthon. John Dobson is well known for being the first person to attach a Newtonian reflector to a low cost revolving cannon mount, resulting in the ever so popular Dobsonian telescope.

Oh, did I mention the rule that the first person who guesses right has to provide the clues for the next celebrity?


Okay, here goes: Born 1914 around Tulsa, Oklahoma, this prolific populariser of mathematics, science and philosophy has published more than 70 books, and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, including a 25-year stint as a columnist with a well-known science magazine. He has a particular fascination with the works of one Charles Lutwidge Dodgson ( :wink: ). He served a few years in the US Navy as a yeoman during WWII, and later moved to New York with his wife Charlotte who died in the year 2000. He’s also an accomplished stage magician and eminent sceptic, though one with theist leanings.


My best guess is Michio Kaku, but the years must have been kind.


Without doing a Google search, what about Asimov?

Martin Gardner.

Yup, it’s Martin Gardner — answer posted while I was composing this:

Nope, it’s neither Asimov nor Kaku.

Another hint: In the early fifties, he wrote one of the first exposés of assorted pseudosciences that formed the modern sceptical movement. A chapter for each topic, which included orgone energy, scientology, flying saucers, Atlantis/Lemuria and Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision hooey.

In truth I’m a little surprised that the man hasn’t been identified yet.

ETA: “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson” is the real name of Lewis Carroll (of Alice in Wonderland fame). Gardner wrote a regular column for Scientific American, and his 1952 pseudoscience exposé was titled Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, a book that has, more than half a century later, lost very little if any of its relevance. Gardner is a founder member of SCICOP.


Ok, an easy one :wink:

This person (born 28 April 1948) is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best known for his popular and long-running series of comic fantasy novels. His first novel was published in 1971, and since 1983, he has written two books a year on average. He is also known for close collaboration on adaptations of his books. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK.

PS. I am reminded of Martin Gardner everyday, since this dragon is on my desk :wink:

Terry Pratchett?

Indeed! Your turn again.

This gentleman lived 1897 - 1968. He lectured Chemistry at Rhodes University and was informed in 1938 of an astonishing discovery made by an East London museum curator.

His son was in A Word or 2.

He wrote a book called Old Fourlegs.


James Leonard Brierley Smith

None other. You’re it. :slight_smile:

(November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)He was an American astronomer, astrochemist, author, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

He is world-famous for writing popular science books. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film of the same name starring Jodie Foster. During his lifetime, he published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated skeptical inquiry, secular humanism, and the scientific method.

He co-wrote and presented the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by more than 600 million people in over 60 countries, making it the most widely watched PBS program in history.[

Carl Sagan - busy reading one of his books at the moment.

Here’s a tricky one. Born in 1986, this young American man gained internet fame by posting a hilarious video in 2004 of himself dancing to a song by the Moldovan pop group O-zone called Dragostea din tei. This video alone arguably justifies the existence of the web cam. The video was watched an estimated 700 milion times, enough to secure him a Guinness book entry in 2008.

numa numa?

Not bad! After all this time Gary Brolsma’s Numa Numa clip still has the power to turn me from a big Grinch into a mere grouch in one minute flat.

Maiya Hee!!

I was guessing and honestly did not know the name!

He(November 30, 1866, Paisley – April 6, 1951) was a South African doctor and paleontologist. He qualified as a medical practitioner in 1895 and received his DSc in 1905 from the University of Glasgow. In 1893 he married Mary Baird Baillie.

From 1903 to 1910 he was professor of zoö and geology at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, South Africa, and subsequently he became keeper of vertebrate paleontology at the South African Museum, Cape Town.