Esquire magazine scribe Tom Junod recently wrote something that made me question my judgment and his sanity - namely that Franziska Michor Is the Isaac Newton of Biology

Now, the last time someone compared themselves to Isaac Newton it was ... well, okay it was me, but even I can't be serious about comparing myself to Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton is a serious guy in physics. A giant. Maybe the giant. It's one thing to make comparisons for dramatic effect, which a keen writer like Junod can do better than anyone, but another to make a serious case.

Isaac Newton is the metric for comparison because he is so fundamental. Isaac Newton to physicists is like a Prius is to environmental activists. He's that important. So it would be easy to dismiss Junod out of hand because, let's face it, he knows jack about science. But that's not what science is about so, instead, we will do what scientists always do when faced with a hypothesis.

Make a bunch of tables.

As you can see by the table below we have compiled a list of important criteria for our evaluation. That will help us decide who is really better, Michor or Newton.

Characteristic Isaac Newton Franziska Michor Advantage
Born Christmas day, 1642 to an illiterate yeoman Born to professor Peter Michor, a differential geometry wizard Draw. Born on Christmas cancels out a math guru father
Academic success
Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, age 26 Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard, age 22 Newton. He got the best title in science from the greatest university of its day when most people don't even own a house.
Cultural pressure
Hated by Robert Hooke for his work in physics Hated by a billion religious people for her work in evolutionary biology Newton. That Hooke was a real prick
Cool hobby
Invented calculus so he could do, you know, important stuff Can drive an 18-wheeler Michor. 70% of high school math students hate calculus. No one hates a hot girl truck driver
Culinary expertise
None. He ate every meal in a coffeehouse Can bake a pie from scratch Michor. It's pie
Best anecdote
Halley, now of the famous comet, tried to stump Newton with a physics riddle. Newton had already solved it and wrote Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica to flesh it all out Learned to drive a truck because they had too many horses to tow with a car Newton. Though to be fair to Michor, next to Archimedes "Eureka!", Newton has the coolest anecdote ever and the hot girl truck driver thing can only take you so far
Human importance of work
Used math to solve the mysteries of planetary motion Uses math to solve the mysteries of cancer Michor. Planetary motion never killed anyone

Oh, a 3 to 3 tie. I hadn't anticipated this but we have a solution. We'll use the set of secondary criteria that most scientists, and all of the readers of this site, use when making important decisions. We'll compare pictures:

 Franziska MichorIsaac Newton  


Yep, that looks like a 4-3 win for Michor in my book. I guess those Esquire guys know their science after all.

Well played, Mr. Junod.

Bonus pic. Because you love science that much.

Super Double Bonus pic. Her sister Johanna is an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences working on spectral and scattering theory of difference operators and applications to completely integrable nonlinear lattices. So, yeah, these girls pretty much hit the genetic Powerball.