There's A lot of "Genius" in Hungary, So Little of Which is Known...

Many Americans often don’t realize just how much genius comes from outside the states, particularly in the technology industry. Same applies to competitive sports. People flock to the states for the opportunity, the money, university and so when something exceptional is done, we will often say, well, it happened in America. It was done by an American.


The fact of the matter is that all of us came from somewhere, if not in this generation then a previous one. It’s easy for those who have been in America for a few generations in a row to forget not just our heritage but all the greats who have done incredibly world-changing things….from somewhere else, even if the “genius” act happened to occur on American soil or elsewhere in the world, other than where they were born.

Hungarian genius is vast and until a trip there this summer, I had no idea just how many “greats” came from such a small country. Let’s take a look at some of them who shaped the world across engineering, science, mathematics, physics and more.

Donat Banki (June 6, 1859 – August 1, 1922)
A Hungarian mechanical engineer, inventor of (among many other things) the carburetor, together with János Csonka, in 1893, as the Bánki-Csonka engine. The invention is often, incorrectly credited to the German Wilhelm Maybach, who submitted his patent half a year after Bánki and Csonka. In 1898, Donát Bánki invented the high-compression engine with a dual carburetor, an evaporation method used ever since.

The invention of the carburetor helped the development of automobiles, as previously no method was known to correctly mix the fuel and air for engines. Some sources say that the idea of the carburetor came from a flower-girl. One evening, Bánki saw her while walking home from the Budapest Technical University. She was sprinkling water onto her flowers by blowing spray from her mouth. Bánki is also given partial credit for the invention of the Crossflow turbine.

Béla Barényi (1 March, 1907, Hirtenberg, Austria  – 30 May, 1997, Sindelfingen, Germany)
Engineer, regarded as the father of passive safety in automobiles. He was born in Hirtenberg near Vienna. After mechanical and electrical engineering studies at the Vienna college, he was employed by Austria-Fiat, Steyr and Adler (predecessor of Audi) automobile companies before joining Daimler-Benz in 1939. Heading the pre-development department of Daimler-Benz from 1939 to 1972, he developed the concept of the crumple zone, the non-deformable passenger cell, collapsible steering column and many other features of Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

He is also credited with having conceived the basic design for the Volkswagen Beetle in 1925, five years before Ferdinand Porsche claimed to have done his version. Barényi was nominated for the award of Car Engineer of the Century in 1999 and induced into the Detroit Automotive Hall of Fame in 1994. A Mercedes advertisement featuring Barényi’s image stated: “No one in the world has given more thought to car safety than this man.”


Csaba Horváth (Szolnok, Hungary – April 13, 2004, New Haven, Connecticut)
Renowned Professor of Chemical Engineering at Yale. Father of high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). The American Chemical Society lists Prof. Csaba Horváth among greats like Crick and Watson, Linus Pauling, Pierre and Marie Curie, and Ernest Rutherford, individuals who have contributed most to the development of chemistry in the 20th century. Csaba Horváth, along with J. Calvin Giddings and J.F.K.

Huber, had come up with the concept of the first HPLC instruments. In the mid-1960s, Horváth became the first scientist to design, construct, and demonstrate molecular separations using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), which has become a multi-billion-dollar business. The technique made possible quantitative analysis of complex biological mixtures and allowed advances in the areas of biomedicine, pharmacology, and biotechnology.

For the rest of the list of geniuses, click here and for more on culture/travel, here.

Renee Blodgett, Founder -  Down the Avenue, We Blog the World, Magic Sauce Media and Magic Sauce Photography


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