For a long time, I had this idea that we don’t live in a “new stuff” era. I mean, all the breakthroughs came from the past and we, now, are just living in a “improvement” era: all innovation come from improvements from old stuff, not new stuff that is ground-shaking. Today I watched a special about Einstein that, at the same time, proved and disproved my point.
First of all, let’s take a look at Einstein. He brought several new ideas in physics, almost as breakthoughing as Isaac Newton. His ideas still so important that they are still around and still are some of the most important in physics. You can point that, although they are so important, physics didn’t stop improving; every day something new appears. But they still are important.
The same can go on other areas: Beatles on music, Freud on psychology, and so on. I mean, there wasn’t something so big in music as Beatles or so big in psychology as Freud (well, he created psychology, but no one expanded that much since he appeared).
On the other hand, maybe there are some geniuses that can obscure other, so we don’t see them. Let me show you one example: have you ever heard about Niels Bohr? The probabilities say no, but you probably already heard about quantic physics, right? Well, Bohr didn’t make to the public, but he did had talks with Einstein and quantic is now a big hit on physics, even leading to the string theory, which is the big “new thing” on physics. Again, you can look as an improvement over the relativity theory and quantic physics (and it could be a “new thing” too).
You can say the same thing about Michael Jackson (although his empire appeared in the 80s, when Beatles were going down — but still strong even 10 years after their break up) and, maybe, Jung or someone else. But that names remains as the breakers of ideas: Einstein, Beatles, Freud. You can find names like that in every area, not just physics, music and psychology.
So, in one hand, we have few geniuses from time to time and, on the other hand, we have several geniuses at the same time, with a few appearing over the others.