The large number of contributions to culture and science, etc. by Hungarians has been remarked on and puzzled over by many people. The numbers seem disprortionally large in relation to the population of Hungary. This is perhaps somewhat 'off topic' for the Gabor Holography Milestone, but note that Gabor was one of many Hungarians who have been awared Nobel Prizes:
Lénárd Fülöp F 1905 Bárány Róbert O 1914 Zsigmondy Richárd K 1925 Szent-Györgyi Albert O 1937 Hevesy György K 1943 Békésy György O 1961 Wigner Jenô F 1963 Gábor Dénes F 1971 Wiesel, Elie B 1986 Polanyi, John C. K 1986 Oláh György K 1994 Harsányi János G 1994
O = élettani ill. orvosi (=medicine), F = fizikai (=physics), K = kémiai (=chemistry), B = béke (=peace), G = közgazdasági díj (=economics)
For an account of Hungarian inventions see:
A book with the title 'Made in Hungary, Hungarian contributions to universal culture' discusses in huge details the contributions of Hungarians to many aspects of Science, the Arts and the Humanities, written by Andrew L Simon.
This does not answer the question 'why so many?'
Some suggestions that have been made: 1. the Hungarian language is not Indo-European and so is very unlike the languages of any of the surrounding countries. It has a very different structure and this might have some impact. 2. Hungary created a very successful educational system, especially for music. 3. It is inherent in Hungarian that in 'classifying' almost everything, data items are listed in a sequence from the general to the particular, which is often not the case elsewhere, and this has some major advantages. Just as examples, a moment in time would be designated in the sequence year, month, day, hour, minute, second, and a location by country, town, street-name, house-number. Person names likewise start with the family name followed by the given name. (hence Dennis Gabor is rendered as Gábor Dénes in Hungary. Compare this with a common USA sequence of hour, minute, second, month, day, year. If the numbers in the Hungarian style moment in time are concatenated to make a single integer, that integer increases in magnitude continuously with the passage of time, whereas the USA style integer jumps up and down in magnitude. This gives some conceptual advantages to the Hungarian way, but additionally is a big advantage in computer programming, because 'before' and 'after' correspond simply to 'smaller' and 'larger'. Some people have claimed that this Hungarian style of categorisation gives them a 'head start' in a mathematics and science. Impossible to prove that, I suppose. Hungarian is in the Finno-Ugric language group, as a result of which it sounds a little like Finnish - but the theory of a common ancestry of Hungarians and Finns seems now to have been disproved by genetic investigations. It is said to have some structural similarities to Japanese.
MIcrosoft is said to have adopted Word and Excel as a result of leadership and persuasion by Charles Simonyi, another Hungarian, the son of a well-known professor of the same name who was distinguished for his outstanding teaching of Electromagnetic Theory.
(Final comment about Holography: best to avoid the word Holograph and always use Hologram instead, because Holograph also has the meaning of a handwritten manuscript written in by its author)
Tony Davies, 29 July 2012