Only 12 inches???
Guess he had a lot of space for more stacks.
You may laugh, but at least there seems to be some grudging appreciation when someone comes around in a panic and a report pulled out of the "mesozoic" layer an inch and a half from the bottom just happens to have the info needed to solve the urgent problem.
I saw Pease's cubicle first-hand, and the photo in this article does not do it justice.
I felt really bad for the folks who had to help him move from Building C to Building D. Because he was so senior, he eventually ended up with two cubicles. One for all of his clutter, and one for his desk (and more clutter).
I happen to know her son. She both changed the world and raised good kids at the same time.
And Amen for @zeeglan's comments about progress without sports. Name me 10 jocks that changed the world - it will take a while. Name me 10 nerds - just point to most of the people around you.
The reason, I believe, the mess is what it is has to do the the degree of focus the individual has on the task at hand. They are more interested in pursuing whatever their objective is at that moment rather than worrying about tidying up. The latter is wasted energy because it does not support pursuit of the objective. Most engineers, and I include myself among them, get so focused on whatever they are thinking about in a development/debug mode where you are pursuing an answer....nothing else matters. Thus the issues with messy desks, hygeine, eating habits, stackup up Red Bull cans etc. People could take a lesson from being so single minded about a particular task. The pursuit of perfection is messy.