What did some of the world’s greatest minds do when they weren’t doing great science?  What were their hobbies?

The Perimeter Institute has put together a list of 10 of history’s greatest physicists along with their favorite pastimes.



Nikola Tesla fed pigeons every day in a park near his lab.  Noticing one pigeon with a broken leg and wing, he spent $2,000 building a device that supported the bird’s body while its bones healed.

Marie Curie was an avid long distance cyclist.  She and husband Pierre spent their 1895 honeymoon pedaling around the north of France.

Max Born, quantum pioneer, was a lover of music, but he died just before the pop music stardom of his granddaughter:  Olivia Newton-John.

Albert Einstein taught himself to play the violin.  He sometimes played duets with Max Planck, the “Father of Quantum Theory” and an accomplished pianist.

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman was, among other things, a semi-secret artist under the pseudonym “Ofey”.  His works drew critical acclaim and were shown at exhibition.

Werner Heisenberg, whose “uncertainty principle” became a hallmark of quantum mechanics, was an avid skier and mountaineer.  Little did he know that his name would be further immortalized in the show “Breaking Bad”.

Erwin SchrÖdinger, who famously devised a thought experiment involving an alive/dead cat, made tiny dollhouse furniture with textiles woven on a miniature loom.

Enrico Fermi, whose work on radioactivity earned a Nobel Prize, played tennis with what one friend called “considerable ferocity”.

James Clerk Maxwell, who unified electricity and magnetism, was an accomplished poet.  His poems, such as a “A Problem in Dynamics,” were often playfully mind-boggling.

Niels Bohr was goalkeeper for the Danish football team Akademisk Boldklub.  His mathematician brother Harald played for the Danish national football team at the 1908 Olympics.


Source:  The Perimeter Institute