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5 Scientists Who Could Kick Your Ass (Without Technology)

These famous geeks would hold their own in hand-to-hand combat -- and pretty much any other physical competition.

These days, nerds are as cool as jocks, if not cooler. Here in the 21st century, it's no longer an '80s movie -- but the notion that jocks are tougher than nerds is still hanging around, along with the idea that a nerd has to build some elaborate system of rockets if he hopes defeat the jock. We're calling B.S. on that. Nerds can be tough, with or without their gadgets, and these five guys are proof.

1. Werner Forssmann didn't feel pain

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A show of fearlessness is a great way to intimidate your opponent at the start of a fight. For example, you could smash a beer can against your forehead or put a cigarette out with your tongue. Or, if you're Dr. Werner Forssmann, you could cut a hole in your arm and shove a catheter tube up there until it reaches your heart, all without any painkillers. He didn't do that to start a fight; he actually did that just because he was bored on a Tuesday, which makes us want to fight him even less.

2. Roger Bannister was quick as lightning

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20 years before Muhammad Ali dropped the famous verse taunting George Foreman, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see," gangly British doctor Roger Bannister was already hard at work practicing ninja-like invisibility when he became the first human to run a four minute mile. While we always knew that a Brit could tire you into submission with a long-winded lecture, Bannister could tire you out physically before you'd ever catch up to land a punch.

3. Neil deGrasse Tyson will rassle you to the ground

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From his regular appearances on "The Daily Show" to his reboot of "Cosmos," Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the most likable scientist of all time -- but you may not know that he was he was captain of his high school wrestling team. "To me," he explained, "wrestling is just physics." Him forcing you to tap out would just be a simple law of nature.

4. J. Craig Venter did time in Navy prison...twice

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Venter was part of the team that first mapped the human genome, so he knows every weak point in your body down to the molecular level. And, as a rule, never pick a fight with a dude who's been in the brig, even once.

5. Leonard Wood beat U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt with a stick

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Former President Teddy Roosevelt was famous for saying, "Walk softly but carry a big stick." What people don't know is that Roosevelt and his personal physician/good buddy Leonard Wood, a Harvard-trained doctor, actually fought each other for sport with cudgels. If Wood wasn't willing to go easy on a sitting commander-in-chief, he definitely wouldn't go easy on you.