In 1781 Herschel became the first person in the modern era to discover a planet. He wanted to call it George, after the British monarch, but was overruled. Instead it became Uranus.
But of all that Michell accomplished, nothing was more ingenious or had greater impact than a machine he designed and built for measuring the mass of the Earth. Unfortunately, he died before he could conduct the experiments and both the idea and the necessary equipment were passed on to a brilliant but magnificently retiring London scientist named Henry Cavendish.
Cavendish is a book in himself. Born into a life of sumptuous privilege—his grandfathers were dukes, respectively, of Devonshire and Kent—he was the most gifted English scientist of his age, but also the strangest. He suffered, in the words of one of his few biographers, from shyness to a "degree bordering on disease." Any human contact was for him a source of the deepest discomfort.
Once he opened his door to find an Austrian admirer, freshly arrived from Vienna, on the front step. Excitedly the Austrian began to babble out praise. For a few moments Cavendish received the compliments as if they were blows from a blunt object and then, unable to take any more, fled down the path and out the gate, leaving the front door wide open. It was some hours before he could be coaxed back to the property. Even his housekeeper communicated with him by letter.