Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist: George Price


While writing about evolution for our upcoming cover story on "Big Ideas," I was reminded of the sad story of George Price. Here's what I wrote:

"Don't forget to name-check Bill Hamilton. He's is best known for the idea of 'inclusive fitness,' which explains why selfish animals sometimes sacrifice their own lives for their relatives'. (Hint: it's not because they're nice.) You may also want to mention Hamilton's friend George Price. A self-taught mathematician, Price perfected Hamilton's equations "“ and then, driven mad by the philosophical implications of them, gave away all his possessions and stabbed himself to death with a pair of fingernail scissors."

Tragically, this is the one case so far in which our featured mad scientist has actually been mad. If you want to know more about Price, Andrew Brown tells this story much more lyrically in his book The Darwin Wars; there's an excerpt here.