One name pops up again and again: Jon Richfield, of Somerset West, South Africa. Doesn’t matter what the question is, there’s a good chance he’ll have a bash at an answer. For the last seven years, I’ve had a mental image of Richfield as a retired scientist of some form, who has nothing to do but gaze out at the veldt, dreaming of his glory days. Then along comes New Sci each week, and suddenly, his life has purpose. There’s a question that nobody seems to know an answer to. So, by careful ferreting out, diligent research, and lateral and logical thinking, he comes up with a plausible answer. While the rest of us spend maybe a few seconds thinking, hmm, that’s a good question, Richfield devotes fifty hours to the problem. Which makes him, IMHO, a real scientist.
I’ve always wished that New Sci would do an interview with him. The breadth of his knowledge is staggering, and I’ve often wondered what he’s really like.
It turns out my mental image isn’t so far from the truth. A quick Googling tells us that he’s a retired computer scientist, living in a retirement complex, spending his days on "anything to do with ideas, especially living things, and with reading and writing".
A true polymath for the 21st century, I salute you!