That is because genuine scientific progress is usually collaborative and collective even if the nature of fame, and fiction, is to single out individuals and hand them all the credit. We like to make heroes, and a century ago stories about dashing, dynamic inventors saving the day, and the world, through their indefatigable ingenuity were so popular they even had their own name – Edisonades, inspired by the famously sweaty Thomas Edison. Such tales peaked in popularity long before EAM Windsor became QE2. Now even in fantasies in which a scientist makes some amazing advance, they are usually portrayed as nutty, absent-minded, eccentric or plain weird.
So it will be interesting to see which scientists, if any, end up being allotted a place among the New Elizabethans. For all their incalculable influence on life as we now live it, few have changed anything single-handedly, while many who have made a significant difference have achieved little or no public recognition. Unlike their fictional counterparts, the scientists who have transformed our world seldom get starring roles, just an uncredited cameo as part of the crowd.