A group of archaeologist found a very strange box. Upon discovery, it seemed to contain 2 paper-like objects. The first one is just an blank page, the second contains an alien writing. After being deciphered, it seems like the aliens grew fond of us and gave us one of their devices, the Life Note.

The instructions were clear, we just had to write a single name of a person who have died already, a definitive description and then give the desired age of the person. This can only be used for a single time.

The world created a committee to decide who to revive. Some aimed for religious leaders, greatest artist, philosophers, military generals, scientists and more. Due to my fear of having another broad question, the committee decided to only select from the field of science.

Who will be the best candidate to revive for the development of the current world and why does the world need him in and his expertise in his field?


  1. The papers don't have any other special composition aside from being paper like. In this story, the world will never discover what these papers are made of.
  2. The revived person will suddenly be given magic alien vaccination of the current era so that he will not die all of a sudden.
  3. If the given name of the person did not exist, the written letters will vanish so you may retry again.
  4. The given age should only before he died.
  5. The world will not fight over the said person, nor assassinate him.
  6. If a person with the same description is ambiguous, the paper will write ambiguous and then vanish so the committee may retry again.
  7. Instructions noted that any ability of the paper should not be taken advantage off. Abuse to its power(i.e. hunting criminals if they are still alive) will cause the paper to vanish. The paper maybe is smart to know if it is being taken advantage off
  8. The farther the person is to the current age, the farther he might have to learn the current world. In this question, Age of person and Time the person is alive are factors. The person can exceed his expected age that he dies.
  9. The paper will survive only for 100 years after discovery. People alive after the discovery of the paper cannot be revived.
  10. In this question, all of our greatest scientist today has already died and can be revived. (Any offense is not intended, I am just adding the possibility of a modern scientist against other scientists)
  11. This question can also be narrow down (In case broad, idea-generating and opinion based): In which field do we need more help, or simply a yes-no "Can a person with written history from the past contribute to the modern age technology"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by James, bowlturner, Mikey, JDługosz, bilbo_pingouin Oct 9 '15 at 5:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ The title and the text do not state the same question. Which one is correct? $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 May 29 '15 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Edited the title. $\endgroup$ – Swindles May 29 '15 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ Leonardo daVinci. $\endgroup$ – Burki May 29 '15 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, if we're not bringing them back to learn from them, we might as well just find whoever has the highest IQ, or highest capacity for learning. Then we teach them what we know, and they go to work. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh May 29 '15 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Yeah sure, if you could calculate everyones IQ and compare them against each other, that might actually work but IQ test work by comparing answers against eachoever, so it wouldn't be calculable. The best answer would probably be someone who died in the last 50 years or so before finnishing there important research, which died with them $\endgroup$ – Necessity May 29 '15 at 13:21

The obvious choices

The individuals most would default to are those who have made important contributions to science. There are many candidates.

  • Albert Einstein

  • Galileo Galilei

  • Isaac Newton

  • Niels Bohr

  • Max Planck

And so many more.

But who cares about what they did add to science, we want to know what they can add to science, and there are different criteria measuring that. We want people who...

Died before they could release a truly major contribution to the public.

Have important knowledge that was lost in the past. (Library of Alexandria, Pompeii, Advanced Art of Memory techniques)

Have highly adaptable minds so that they don't freak out when they suddenly pop into existence.

Those fitting at least some of these new criteria are.

  • Anyone of the ancient scientists. (Aristotle, Democritus, etc.)

  • A polymath. (Leonardo da Vinci, John von Neumann)

As stated before, we would like the candidate to contribute as much as possible to the scientific community, however, we should consider the fact that they are human and may not just go along with the world committee's decision. Definitely avoid picking anyone who was suicidal no matter how effective they may be.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Definite +1 for "But who cares about what they did add to science, we want to know what they can add to science" $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 29 '15 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ My vote is for von Neumann, but I may be biased. Ancient scientists are an interesting choice, but I'd think their contributions would be more historical than scientific. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh May 29 '15 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh History is a science... I think? For my part I'd give priority to the faculty at the library of Alexandria. They had the best access to information, so would know lots of things that have been lost. Similarly the first emperor of Qin collected all the books and many of them were subsequently lost, an imperial scholar from between collection and loss would be priceless There are few other notable events where large concentrations of knowledge were lost, but the loss of the Great Library and the Qin book collections are probably the largest. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi May 29 '15 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi I just don't think all that lost knowledge would be useful. I guarantee there was no scroll in Alexandria about quantum mechanics or computer science. There might be some cool stuff that gives insight into our past, and yes I'd totally pick that over some smart guy from the last century, but I don't think it's what the OP is looking for. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh May 29 '15 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Well, it actually says "died recently", so you are probably right, with minor loophole left if the aliens count their lifespans in millions of years. But honestly only people who might be directly useful if resurrected are few mathematicians and polymaths who actually had exceptional mental ability. And even then, I doubt we'd actually have the moral right to bring them back "out-of-time". Maybe the best use for the life note would be to study it until we can duplicate the effect and then issue copies to paramedics.... $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi May 29 '15 at 18:22

I'm joining @ckersch with a vote for Tesla, but with a twist. I want to revive Tesla's mother, eight months after Nicola was conceived. That way, he gets a full childhood to catch up with what we've discovered since he passed away. Then on his eighteenth birthday, we give him the used-up box as a starting point for his research.

  • $\begingroup$ Now this... this is a clever idea. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 29 '15 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ We have a winner. Way to work the system Henry. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 8 '15 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ In that case, why not Einstein or, even better, Newton? $\endgroup$ – Oak Dec 24 '15 at 12:15

We should bring back the most prodigious thinker we can find.

Possibly Tesla.

There are lots of people who made great developments in science, but most of them only developed a limited number of things. For example, Darwin developed the theory of evolution, which was a huge advance in science, but was otherwise a fairly ordinary man.

Then there are scientists and mathematicians for whom the phrase 'ordinary man' would be an insult. These are the sorts of people we should bring back. These are the sorts of individuals which, when educated from a fairly early age in the modern state of the art, could be expected to make some astounding new discoveries. These sorts of individuals have brains which don't just discover one thing and spend a lifetime working on it, but spend their lives making ground breaking discovery after ground breaking discovery.

We should also bring them back at a fairly young age, perhaps 10 or 12 years old. This would put them in the prime of their ability to learn. Everything they will discover as an adult is already known, so we don't need their knowledge. Rather, what we want is one of the most exceptional minds the world has ever known, at a young enough age to become one of the most exceptional minds of our time, as well.

Based on these criteria, in no particular order, I would bring back the 10-year old version one of the following four individuals:

  • Nicola Tesla
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss
  • Leonhard Euler
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan

The highest bidder.

Give the paper to the highest bidder. Be that a group or individual.

If you're goal is to advance science, then use the money to fund primary research. This will advance science by far more than any famous dead person could.

And, I would argue, that this would likely give you the best candidate on top of a bunch of money.


Don't be hasty. Make sure the world knows what's happening. And make it easy to participate.

Facilitate participation by developing pledging systems.

Maybe some hybrid of stackexchange, reddit and kickstarter. You want debate, competition and as many people involved as possible.


Some rich person could just revive a dead relative.

But if you've set it up right, this is unlikely. With enough attention, no small group of people will have enough money to outspend masses of people.


Well-run committees do work. They usually make better decisions than individuals. But they aren't the best way of doing things.

The best decisions are usually made with a combination of committee and the public. The New Zealand flag referendum is an example of this. Flag designs are submitted by the public, the committee picks 4, the public votes on them and the winner becomes the new flag. Crowdsourcing + Committee are an excellent combo.

The money aspect also helps. Essentially it allows people to say "how much is it worth to me to have X alive". This avoids the democracy problem where your vote is binary.

  • $\begingroup$ "Outspend masses of people"? Congratulations. You just revived Michael Jackson. $\endgroup$ – user4239 Jun 1 '15 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DVK heh, probably. Still, the money made would get more results than any single dead scientist could yield. $\endgroup$ – slicedtoad Jun 1 '15 at 13:47

Science does not rely on any particular person.

Erase or lose any particular scientific knowledge and it will be rediscovered.

Indeed in terms of pragmatism there's little to be gained from plucking any particular engineer, scientist etc from history.

But on the off chance I'd go with someone who's definitely not a one trick pony. Frederick Sanger, he won 2 nobels at the bleeding edge of the biotech industry which is currently more important than ever before. I think he could earn 2 more with another 50 years.

The other contender I can think of is Feynman.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't like the choice of frederick sanger, as he died peacefully after 30 years in retirement. Feynman is a fun choice and one I could get behind, as long as he was revived without cancer. I just think it would be funny because of what his noted last words were. $\endgroup$ – Necessity May 29 '15 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Nice one, @AdamNicholls :-) i had to look it up... and it was woth it! $\endgroup$ – Burki May 29 '15 at 14:54

Louis Pasteur.

Not only was this man a marvelous researcher in the field of medicine who saved millions of lives, but he donated the fruits of his research to the world, forfeiting his right to a patent. In an age desperately in need of high ethical standards, he would be your man.

Norman Borlaug.

At a time when people like Paul Ehrlich were forecasting doom, this man developed a strain of wheat (and later rice) with high yield, saving hundreds of millions from starvation. When people say that humanity is the problem, he could show that human ingenuity can be the solution.


What sciencists / mathematics were on the brink of discovery or were actively reearching? This would be good options. However, we should pick modern scientists, as they will understand modern science most easily.

In no particular order:

  1. Paul Erdos

  2. Albert Einstein

  3. Max Born

  4. Max Planck

  5. Richard Feynman


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