Hungarian Inventions and Inventors

Last week we wrote about Hungarian Nobel Prize winners. This week we attempt to write about Hungarian inventions.

No matter how rich we are in Nobel Prize winners, we have even more famous scientists who didn’t get the prize – e. g. because there was no prize in his category! Just think about Neumann János, the inventor of the computer. Or remember to Selye János, the constructor of the stress-distress theory. However, there are some common features of our prides (prize winners and non winners): they are men, with Hungarian Jewish roots (e.g. Neumann János, Szilárd Leó, Wigner Jenő), who worked abroad in order to have better working conditions.

As I mentioned earlier – very humble – the 20th century was created in Budapest. What can be the explanation of this phenomenon? Many sociologists see the answer in the good Hungarian educational system from the beginning of the 20th century. Others see the source of success in the advanced pedagogy, others in the logical structure of the Hungarian language. But whatever is the reason for the existence of these inventions, we all are happy to use them and we all are proud to belong to the same nation!

As far as I am concerned, I would like to mention some talented inventors who would have deserved the Nobel Prize because of their scientific work.

Bródy Imre (1891-1944)

He was the inventor of the krypton electric bulb. He was born in the countryside but had many famous relatives in the capital e. g. Bródy Sándor, the writer. He could have escaped from Hungary in the time of the German occupation but he decided to stay with his family so he followed them to the death in Auschwitz. He caught a bacterial epidemic and died in the camp hospital. A prize was founded to his memory.

Neumann János (1903-1957)

He is the co-founder with Morgenstern of the game theory model based on poker, the national game of the USA. By this theory and the help of an other scientist, Kemény János he created the first computer. He married twice, his only daughter is from the first marriage. In 1938, he converted to Catholic faith. In the World War II. he left the country for the USA where he died of cancer in 1957.

Teller Ede (1908-2003)

People nowadays know him only as the father of the hydrogen bomb. Before leaving to the States, he made friends in Budapest with Neumann János, Szilárd Leó, Wigner Jenő. He confessed later that his scientific success is to be thanked to the fact that Hungarian is his mother tongue. He said that without knowing Hungarian language he could only be a high school teacher in a middle-level quality, so he thought this language is essential to be a good logic structure developer. His family suffered from Hitler’s nazi terror, afterwards they had to live in the communist era. His family was deported in 1951, so Teller (no matter he was an American citizen) didn’t dare to negotiate with the Soviets about the nuclear warfare (he felt his family was in danger) until his friend Szilárd Leó helped him to move Teller’s family to the USA.

So far a rather personal selection of Hungarian inventions. There are of course a lot more, we only wanted to introduce the most famous inventors.

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