“Legendary physicist Richard Feynman was the first person to provide an intuitive understanding of why relativity requires the existence of antiparticles, which also yielded a graphic demonstration that empty space is not quite so empty.”
from A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss
President Lincoln had a real title: President. Likewise, General Dwight D. Eisenhower shows the use of a legitimate title. A description of someone’s job should not be used as a title: “Jazz drummer Elvin Jones will appear….” Better: “Elvin Jones, the jazz drummer, will appear….” Or: “The jazz drummer Elvin Jones…”
But common as it is in newspapers and magazines, slapping just any appositive into that position of being a formal title is crude and incompetent.
Also note in the quote from Krauss, the word “legendary” is unnecessary. If he is legendary, you already know about the legend, and the author needn’t draw attention to it. The mistake is easy to correct: “The physicist Richard Feynman was the first person to provide…” or better still: “Richard Feynman was the first physicist to provide…”
In addition, the closing clause of the sentence is useless as it stands: “which also yielded a graphic demonstration that empty space is not quite so empty.” We have no idea what he’s talking about when he refers back to something with the word “which.”
A really brilliant guy in need of a modestly competent editor.
Keep it simple. Keep it active.