Henry Cavendish was a great scientist but he was terribly shy. He made some fantastic discoveries that were far ahead of his time. The sad news is no one found out about them until 100 years later. Another scientist went back to review his papers and let the world know about the quiet genius.
No one built off his work. They all had to rediscover everything for themselves. By the time people know how far Cavendish had gotten, all the credit had already been given to others.
Surprisingly, this happened a lot in science over the past few hundred years. Someone makes a discovery in England, meanwhile some in the US is working on the same problem and makes the same discovery 30 years later.
Everyone had to build their own experiments. They were individual scientists each contributing to the body of knowledge. Imagine if all those great scientists were in a Slack channel. They could exchange notes, hop on Skype calls and check each other’s work.
The communication tools are in everyone’s hands now. It’s hard to appreciate just how powerful these platforms are. I’m sure Cavendish wishes he could have published his findings on a Wordpress blog.