The World's 10 Most Influential Scientists

1. Isaac Newton:

Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, theologian and one of the most influential men in human history. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries and is still the basis for modern engineering.

Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton

2. Albert Einstein:

Einstein, a German physicist, is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass–energy equivalence, expressed by the equation E = mc2. Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. Einstein’s many contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity, which was intended to extend the principle of relativity to non-uniform motion and to provide a new theory of gravitation. Einstein published over 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works. The physics community reveres Einstein, and in 1999 Time magazine named him the “Person of the Century”.

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

3. Nikola Tesla:

Tesla was a Serbian engineer and inventor who is often described as the most important scientist and inventor of the modern age, a man who “shed light over the face of Earth”. He is best known for many revolutionary contributions in the field of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla’s patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current electric power (AC) systems, including the polyphase power distribution systems and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

4. Galileo Galilei:

Galileo was an Italian physicist and astronomer. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the “father of modern observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of science”, and “the Father of Modern Science.” The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by Galileo as the subject of kinematics. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honor, and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, improving compass design.

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei

5. Leonardo da Vinci:

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath. He was an expert mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the “Renaissance man”, a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

6. Charles Darwin:

An English naturalist and biologist, Darwin demonstrated that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In a modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life.

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

7. Max Planck:

Max Planck, a German physicist, is considered to be the founder of quantum theory, and one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized our understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics. His discoveries have led to industrial and military applications that affect every aspect of modern life.

Max Planck
Max Planck

8. Niels Bohr:

Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr’s work helped solve the problems classical physics could not explain about the nuclear model of the atom. He postulated that electrons moved in fixed orbits around the atom’s nucleus, and he explained how they emitted or absorbed energy.

Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr

9. Alan Turing:

An English mathematician and logician, Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. He provided an influential formalization of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. With the Turing test, meanwhile, he made a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence: whether it will ever be possible to say that a machine is conscious and can think. During WWII, Turing worked at Bletchley Park, the UK’s code-breaking center, and was for a time the head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

10. Marie Curie:

The Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the only person honored with Nobel Prizes in two different sciences, and the first female professor at the University of Paris. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw. Her husband Pierre Curie was also a Nobel laureate, as were her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie and son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie. Her achievements include the creation of a theory of radioactivity (a term coined by her), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two new elements, radium and polonium. It was also under her personal direction that the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms (“cancers”), using radioactive isotopes.

Marie Curie
Marie Curie

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