Our Unknown Martyrs

Behind every famous scientist who died or suffered greatly for his work there stand in serried ranks hundreds of others—the unknown martyrs of science. For them there is no roll of honor, no shrine of remembrance. No sacred flame burns for them in any academy, and if their names were briefly known to colleagues, they were soon forgotten again. This is the gratitude of mankind remembering its unknown soldiers everywhere, but not its scientists. The dramatic accident of the space shuttle Cha

Anthony Michaelis
Feb 8, 1987
Behind every famous scientist who died or suffered greatly for his work there stand in serried ranks hundreds of others—the unknown martyrs of science. For them there is no roll of honor, no shrine of remembrance. No sacred flame burns for them in any academy, and if their names were briefly known to colleagues, they were soon forgotten again. This is the gratitude of mankind remembering its unknown soldiers everywhere, but not its scientists.

The dramatic accident of the space shuttle Challenger reminded us all of the dangers of space exploration, but who will remember the names of the crew? In 1967, astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee burned to death in Apollo 1, and a silver medal remains as their only memorial.

Only a few martyrs of science became famous, and they must speak for the many unknown. Let us recall them briefly.

From Archimedes to Apollo

Archimedes, in about...