What subjects would you need to study to qualify as a Superscientist?

By “Superscientist”, I mean in the Rusty Venture/Hubert Farnsworth/1950s Sci-Fi Film Mad Inventor way, not the Albert Einstein/Alan Turing/Stephen Hawking vein.

So, let’s pretend that Little Johnny Bloggs is about to turn 18 and is thinking about going to university. Not be a doctor or a lawyer or an HR representative, but something far cooler- a Superscientist.

Little Johnny loves Science!* but has no idea what he should be studying to fufil his dream of becoming a Superscientist. Assuming for the purposes of this discussion there’s a university that offers a generalist Bachelor of Superscience degree (and a postgraduate Doctorate in Superscience course, with optional majors in either Scientific Inventions or Supervillainy) what (ostensibly “serious” or “real”) subjects should Little Johnny be considering in furtherance of his goal?

*A distinct concept to conventional science, as it involves a lot of stuff about Atomic Power and Lasers and Walking Eyes and Robots. Just go and watch The Venture Bros; it sums the whole thing up pretty well.

The stereotypical mad scientist is much more of an engineer than a scientist, so engineering is definitely the right choice.

I think you would want to be a physicist. But there would Erlenmayer flasks everywhere for some reason. Seems like they’re always experimenting with food coloring.

Death Ray Science
Anti-Matter Bomb Science
Truth Beam (or Drug) Science
Invisibility Science
Anti-Gravity Science
Teleportation Science
Making Smoking Hot Chicks Fall in Love With You Science
Time Travel Science
Creating a Supernova Science
Mind Control Science
Zombie Creation Science

Plus you need one of those Jacob’s Ladder things.

That is so that you can see that they are doing science. It was the pre-computer-era way of visualizing “science”.

A physicist is a good rough approximation for “all purpose scientist”, but in fact most of the physics Ph.D.s I’ve known, including experimentalists, couldn’t engineer their way out of a two foot deep hole. (The spare exceptions were people for whom physics was a second career, after doing something like building sailboats or running a farm.) If I had to single out a particular engineering discipline who would be most likely to have the skills imagined by the o.p. I would probably go for petroleum engineer, which mixes mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, mining engineering, and geophysics, along with a sampling of electrical engineering, statistics and data regression, thermodynamics, et cetera. How he will be able to determine that the aliens are from Zeta Reticuli based upon the previously unknown elements in their hull material alloy, however, is beyond a university education and can only come from the mind of a screenwriter.


Ha, I found the comic that made me think of.

I don’t think you’ve known many physicist then. I spent my academic career with physicists, and my experience is quite different.

A Mad Scientist really needs to be an Omnidisciplinary Scientist.

You forgot:
Robot Science
Cloning Science
Genetic Monster Science
Restarting the Earth’s Core Science

Plus you’ll need a degree in English

…to handle all the requests of “Whoa, Doc, say that again in English!”

Yeah, I also missed
Toxic Acid Smoking Goo Science
Godzilla Science (with a minor in Mothra or Rhodan Science)
Destroying Tokyo Science
Sea Monster Science
Nuclear Reactor Core Meltdown Science
Nuclear War Button Pushing Science
Kidnapping the President Science
Kicking Puppies and Kittens Science

I’m sure there are a few more that I’m still missing.

What I was sort of hoping for (as well as the obvious, slightly silly suggestions) were “Real” subjects a would-be Superscientist could study.

Thus, mechanical engineering (to build Walking Eyes and Robots), Applied Atomic Science (because it’s not Science! if it doesn’t involve Atomic Energy somewhere), something to do with Lasers (how else does one acquire the knowledge and ability to construct Fricking Laser Beams™?), Principles of Management (to keep the underlings motivated), and so on.

And for the slightly silly ones, I’d suggest Introduction to Maniacal Laughter (MWAHAHAHAHA!), Critical Analysis of Contemporary Science (FOOLS! They said it was madness to try and extract petroleum oil from maple syrup, BUT I SHOWED THEM! I SHOWED THEM ALL!), Ethics of Doomsday Devices (What would be the wider implications of weaponising the power of a Black Hole?), and The Hazards of Time Travel (A lesson in not changing History from Mr “I’m My Own Grandfather”).

Warp Drive science is crucial.

Wicked laugh science also comes to mind;
Coke-bottle glasses science
Bad hair-do science might be not significant enough to matter.

What-say the board? Allow mad-superscientists with nice hair, or not?

Doctor Horrible: “A lot of guys ignore the laugh, and that’s about standards! You have to have a memorable laugh.”

(Working with a vocal coach can help.)

In terms of practicality I think the most likely route to world threatening mad sciencedom would be to study microbiology and molecular genetics to try to build a super virus that you could threaten the world with. These fields might also let you branch out in the direction of cloning and creating god forsaken hybrids that are against the laws of man and nature.

I suspect most superscientists really are specialists, who just happen to dabble in other areas as a hobby. Roy Hinkley, for instance, seems to have been a chemist, who just happens to have a lot of other practical skills from his experience in Boy Scouts. And Kevyn Andreyasn specializes in wormhole dynamics, and only does explosives because they’re fun.

Yet they always seem to be like Omnidisciplinary engineers…

While most other Sons Of Ether will tell you that the Matter Sphere is essential to Science, I specialize in Mind. Why spend all your time building a Columnating Thanatropic Projector (known as a ‘death ray’ to most folks), when you can build instead a EuHarmonic Pyschotropic Radiator (known as a ‘love bomb’)?

Remember ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ I think therefore I am.

The Mad Scientist creed is “IBSU ergo sum” (I blow shit up, therefor I am)