best physicists

Best Physicists A-Z

Best Physicists of All-Time A-Z List

Physicists try to explain the world we live in using laws which govern the entire universe. ADDucation’s list of best physicists in history features their key discoveries, awards and achievements.

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Best Physicists Born Died Country Fields + Awards General Knowledge Facts & Trivia About Best Physicists
Alberti, Leon Battista c1404 c1472 🇮🇹 Italy Mathematics and physics. Leon Battista Alberti was a versatile talent. He studied physics, mathematics, law and art. He was also an inventor, architect and author in several languages. He was a talented rider, athlete, musician and composer.
Ampère, André M 1775 1863 🇫🇷 France Mathematics and physics. André Ampère is regarded as the founder of electrodynamics. He discovered electric currents exert attractive and repulsive forces on each other, which is cause of magnetism. The unit for measuring the strength of an electric current “Amp” is named after him.
Archimedes c287 BC c212 BC 🇬🇷 Greece Mathematics, physics and mechanics. Archimedes was a multi-talented genius. He calculated the number pi and founded the current day integral calculus. Archimedes discovered “specific gravity” when a full bath tub overflowed when he stepped into it. “The volume of a body is equal to the amount of water it displaces” – very important when building ships. He invented the “Archimedes screw” to pump water and developed a system for calculating large numbers. Archimedes was also a shipbuilder and designed modern weapons and war techniques including catapults. One of the best physicists of all time.
Aristotle c384 BC c322 BC 🇬🇷 Greece Physics, zoology and philosophy. Aristotle defined the method of exact research. His writings have inspired scientists for millennia. He founded the first university in Athens, was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle is considered the father of zoology, and wrote widely on topics such as reproduction and heredity transmission. One of the best physicists of all time.
Becquerel, Henri 1852 1908 🇫🇷 France Physics. Nobel Prize 1903. Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity when putting uranium salts on a photographic plate, which then turned black. He found out that uranium emits radiation naturally and earned the Nobel Prize in 1903 for his work.
Bohr, Niels 1885 1962 🇩🇰 Denmark Physics. Nobel Prize 1922. Niels Bohr discovered that energy does not flow constantly, but in small spurts (quanta). Bohr laid down the foundations of modern atomic physics and received the Nobel Prize in 1922. One of the best physicists of all time.
Boltzmann, Ludwig 1844 1906 🇦🇹 Austria Physics. Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann was one of the founders of quantum mechanics and most famous for developing statistical mechanics, one of the building blocks of modern physics. Boltzmann’s name is also connected to two physical constants (both developed by other scientists), theories, equations and distributions. In 1899 he awarded a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). In later years his lectures on natural philosophy were especially well received.
Bothe, Walther 1891 1957 🇩🇪 Germany Physics, mathematics and Chemistry. Nobel Prize 1954. Walther Bothe was a nuclear physicist and leading member of the German nuclear energy project, also known as the Uranium Club. He built the first operational cyclotron in Heidelberg, Germany. Bothe shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1954 with Max Born for his discovery of the method of coincidence and later discoveries.
Boyle, Robert 1627 1691 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and chemistry. Robert Boyle was one of Britains most famous scientists. Boyle explored the properties of air and gases and discovered that (at a constant temperature) pressure and volume are inversely proportional to one another. He confirmed Galileo’s “free fall” law, defined the term “analysis” (Greek: “resolution”), found acids and bases and, in doing so, discovered acetone and methanol. Was also the first to isolate oxygen. His major work: “The skeptical chymist” (1661).
Braun, Wernher von 1912 1977 🇩🇪 Germany Physics, astronomy. Wernher von Braun was a significant rocket designer. He launched rockets in 1934 already and later developed the V2 in Nazi Germany. In 1945, he emigrated to the United States where, as a NASA employee, he and other famous scientists, constructed the first moon rockets.
Cavendish, Henry 1731 1810 🇬🇧 Great Britain Chemistry and physics. Henry Cavendish was a wealthy, eccentric loner and misogynist. He was regarded as a pioneer of modern chemistry. He weighed and measured many gases and elements (before and after combustion) and discovered, among other things, the element hydrogen.
Chadwick, James 1891 1974 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. Nobel Prize 1935. Sir James Chadwick proved the existence of the neutron in 1932. He participated in the Manhattan project. Chadwick built the first particle accelerator “cyclotron“, which led to the development of the first nuclear chain reaction. Together with Hans Geiger Chadwick studied beta radiation and demonstrated the presence of a continuous electromagnetic spectrum.
Châtelet, Émilie du
1706 1749 🇫🇷 France Mathematics, Physics. Émilie du Châtelet translated and commented on Isaac Newton’s Principia, which detailed the basic laws of physics. With this she made a considerable contribution to Newtonian mechanics. She published her most famous work Foundations of Physics in 1740, which was republished in several languages and caused much debate. She was Voltaire’s paramour and lived with him from 1733.
Curie, Marie 1867 1934 🇵🇱 Poland, 🇫🇷 France Physics, Chemistry. Nobel Prizes 1903, 1911 Marie Curie (or Marie Skłodowska Curie, born Maria Salomea Skłodowska) was born in Poland and became French later. Her work led to the development of X-rays. The first chemical element she discovered was polonium, which she named after her native country. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and to do so in two categories: Physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911. When she died from aplastic anemia, caused by her frequent exposure to radiation, she was also the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. One of the most best physicists and of all time.
Da Vinci, Leonardo 1452 1519 🇮🇹 Italy Medicine, physics and astronomy. Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artistic genius but also a doctor, architect, astronomer and engineer. His irrepressible curiosity drove him to explore (almost) everything and is one of the best physicists in history. Da Vinci studied humankind and nature and drew hundreds of anatomical drawings. He developed hydraulics, supervised the construction of canals, locks and aqueducts, and is considered the inventor of portable bridges, flamethrowers, tanks, submarines, parachutes as well as tools such as levers, saws, heating and lighting systems.
Dalton, John 1766 1844 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. John Dalton discovered matter is composed of atoms that are indivisible and indestructible and have a weight. All atoms of any element are the same, but that every element has different atoms. Also, that hydrogen atoms are the lightest. Their weight is used to determine all atomic weights.
Davy, Humphrey 1778 1829 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and chemistry. Humphrey Davy was a pioneer of the theory of electricity. Using electric currents he was able to isolate elements such as calcium, barium, strontium, for the first time, developed among other things a safety lamp for miners.
Dirac, Paul 1902 1984 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. Nobel Prize 1993. Dirac was one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. He was autistic which explained his modest, socially awkward and reserved nature. Dirac established the most general theory of quantum mechanics. He predicted the existence of antimatter and discovered the relativistic equation for the wave function of the electron, known as the Dirac equation. In 1930 Dirac published “The Principles of Quantum Mechanics” which remains a standard textbook today. Dirac received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933. In 1973 Dirac received the Order of Merit, having earlier refused a knighthood. Dirac was one of the least well-known but best physicists of the 20th century.
Doppler, Christian 1803 1853 🇦🇹 Austria Physics and mathematics. Christian Doppler calculated changes in the frequency of a moving object “Doppler effect“. When the observer and source are approaching each other the frequency increases, when moving away from each other, it decreases.
Edison, Thomas Alva 1847 1931 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Thomas Edison was self-taught and only attended school for three months. He ran experiments and developed many inventions including a film recording device, microphone and gramophone, all of which he financed himself. Edison became famous for inventing the first light bulb, using a thread of carbon.
Einstein, Albert 1879 1955 🇩🇪 Germany Mathematics and physics. Nobel Prize 1921. Albert Einstein’s two theories of relativity revolutionized the understanding of matter, space, time and gravitation. Everything is relative to the respective observation system, including time. Therefore, there is no absolute simultaneity. The only constant is the speed of light. It cannot be exceeded. Einstein concluded: Energy is Mass times the speed of light (C – from the Latin celeritas meaning speed) squared (E = MC2), i.e. matter is condensed energy. Every gram of mass contains huge amounts of energy. An insight that (unfortunately) also led to the construction of the atomic bomb. One of the best physicists of all time.
Euler, Leonhard 1707 1783 🇨🇭 Switzerland Mathematics and physics. Leonard Euler was one of the most prolific scientists despite going blind later in life. Euler wrote 866 publications, established new symbols such as the summation sign Σ, founded the calculus of variations and, partly, analysis. In mechanics, Euler discovered equations for the motion of rigid bodies and fluids (hydrodynamics), and developed a wave theory to calculate lens in the field of optics. One of the best physicists of all time.
Fahrenheit, Gabriel 1686 1736 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Gabriel Fahrenheit was a German physicist who developed the mercury thermometer in 1714 with a three-point calibration. For the zero point of Fahrenheit’s scale he used the lowest temperature he could produce at the time: minus 17.8 F°. He defined the freezing point of water as +32 F° and water’s boiling point as +212 F°.
Faraday, Michael 1791 1867 🇬🇧 Great Britain Chemistry and physics.
Michael Faraday was a great experimenter. He discovered electromagnetic induction and rotation. These principles are used to generate electricity in most power plants today. He built the first dynamo, which led to the first electric motor. Faraday discovered diamagnetism is a property of all materials. In 1832 Faraday described the principles of electrolysis and electrostatics. He invented the “Faraday cage” to prove his theory. Faraday discovered the relationship between magnetism and light. In 1834 Faraday published his laws of electrolysis, based on his electrochemical research. Faraday was the first person to liquefy gases and discovered benzene.
Fermi, Enrico 1901 1954 🇮🇹 Italy Physics. Nobel Prize 1938. Enrico Fermi was a significant 20th century nuclear physicist. He bombarded uranium with neutrons and thus prepared the way for nuclear fission. He built the first nuclear reactor in 1944 and received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1938.
Feynman, Richard Phillips
1918 1988 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Nobel Prize 1965. Richard Feynman was famous for path integral formulation of quantum mechanics and particle physics. He advanced the theory of quantum electrodynamics and superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium. Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for quantum electrodynamics. He shared the prize with Julian Schwinger and Shin’ichirō Tomonaga.
Foucault, Léon Jean Bernand 1819 1868 🇫🇷 France Physics. Leon Foucault ascertained the speed of light by bouncing it off a series of rotating mirrors. He showed light in air moves faster than in water. The French physicist also proved Earth’s rotation using what became known as “Foucault’s Pendulum”. He demonstrated the pendulum at the Panthéon, Paris in 1851. Foucault was one of the best physicists of all time.
Franklin, Melissa Eve Bronwen 1956 🇨🇦 Canada Physics. Melissa Franklin is best known for her work on particle physics. She is currently the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and before that she had a tenure at Harvard. She was in charge of a team that first found signs that top quarks exist. She often appears as a guest on the CBC radio science program Quirks and Quarks. One of the best female physicists alive today.
Galilei, Galileo 1564 1642 🇮🇹 Italy Astronomy, physics and chemistry. Galileo Galilei is the founder of the fields of dynamics mechanics and acoustics. He discovered the laws of falling bodies, ballistics and pendulums, and confirmed Copernicus‘ heliocentric view of the world through astronomical observations using a telescope he’d also improved. In this way, he first saw the moon’s surface and many other stars. The scientific genius also examined gases and proved that air has a weight of its own and is, therefore, also matter. One of the best physicists of all time.
Gilbert, William 1540 1603 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and medicine William Gilbert realized the Earth itself is magnetic and that our planet has two (and not, as originally thought one) magnetic poles. Born in Colchester, Essex, England. Gilbert investigated electricity and developed the first electroscope for measuring electricity.
Göppert, Maria 1906 1972 🇩🇪 Germany, 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Nobel Prize 1963. Maria Göppert (or later Goeppert Mayer after her marriage to Joseph Mayer) was a theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 for her mathematical model for the structure of nuclear shells. After Marie Curie, she was the 2nd female Nobel laureate in physics. Her doctorate was on the two-photon absorption by atoms and today, the unit for this absorption is named the GM unit after her.
Grassmann, Hermann 1809 1877 🇩🇪 Germany Mathematics and physics. Hermann Grassmann was an introverted philologist and autodidact in Mathematics. He conducted research on electrical currents, color theory, acoustics, phonetics and harmony. Grassmann’s mathematical work “The theory of linear extension” contained treatises on quaternions, matrix calculus and vector calculations.
Halley, Edmond 1656 1742 🇬🇧 Great Britain Astronomy, mathematics and physics. Edmond Halley was the second Astronomer Royal. His observations were published in “Catalogus stellarum australium” (star maps). In his 1705 “A synopsis of the astronomy of comets” Halley concluded the comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682 were the same comet and that it would return in 1758. It became known as Halley’s Comet. He later explained geomagnetic phenomena including auroras.
Hamilton, Rowan 1805 1865 🇬🇧 Great Britain Mathematics and physics. Rowan Hamilton was a prodigy who spoke 13 languages. Hamilton was appointed head of an observatory aged just 23. By 27 he was a well-known scientist who created the quaternions (hyper complex numbers a + bi + cj + dk) and vector calculus.
Heisenberg, Werner 1901 1976 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist most famous for his 1927 publication of “Heisenberg uncertainty principle“. Heisenberg discovered atoms behave differently when observed. He concluded electrons can only change by so-called “quantum leaps” which led to the term “Quantum theory“.
Helmholtz, Hermann von 1821 1894 🇩🇪 Germany Physics and medicine. Helmholtz examined the fermentation, putrefaction and heat production of living beings. In his book on the Conservation of energy (1847) he showed energy can be transformed, but never lost.
Hertz, Heinrich 1857 1894 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of electromagnetic waves, as predicted by James Maxwell’s equations. Hertz conducted ground-breaking research on electromagnetic waves. The Hertz unit of frequency is named after him.
Hubble, Edwin 1889 1953 🇺🇸 USA Astronomy and physics. In 1925, Edwin Hubble proved that the “Andromeda Nebula M31” lies far beyond our Milky Way and thereby prepared for the discovery (by Georges Lemaître) of the expansion of the universe. One of the best physicists of all time.
Huygens, Christian 1629 1695 🇳🇱 Netherlands Physics, mathematics and astronomy. Jack of all trades. Discovered the rings of Saturn with a self-made telescope, constructed new pendant and pocket watches, explained the theory of probability, described the so-called impact law, founded a new theory of light and dealt with vibration and circular motion (centrifugal force).
Jackson, Shirley Ann 1946 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Shirley Jackson is famous for her contributions to the field of nuclear physics and has received numerous awards for her work along with honorary doctorate degrees. She was the first African American woman with a doctorate degree in nuclear physics at MIT.
Joule, James Prescott 1818 1889 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and chemistry. Proved through experimentation that heat is a form of energy which is dependent on resistance, time and current strength. James Prescott Joule also discovered the internal energy of gases (the Joule-Thomson effect).
Kelvin, William Thomson 1824 1907 🇮🇪 Ireland Physics and chemistry. William Kelvin was a specialist in thermodynamics. He formulated the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. Lord Kelvin developed and fixed the Kelvin units temperature scale named after him. Kelvin first coined the term “kinetic energy“. Together with James Joule, Kelvin discovered gases under pressure change temperature and that at “absolute zero” (-273 ° C) all particles stop moving.
Kirchhoff, Gustav R. 1824 1887 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Gustav Kirchhoff discovered spectral analysis together with Robert Bunsen. This made it possible to detect tiny amounts of an element. Kirchhoff defined the laws of electric circuits and investigated the sun’s thermal radiation.
Laplace, Pierre Simon 1749 1827 🇫🇷 France Physics, mathematics and astronomy. Pierre Laplace lived through the French Revolution, Napoleon and the Bourbons all at close quarters. He still managed to focus on his probability theory (in games of chance), “celestial mechanics” (the calculation of planetary orbits, and the existence of black holes).
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1646 1716 🇩🇪 Germany Mathematics, physics and philosophy. Wilhelm Leibniz worked intensively with symbolic logic. Along with Sir Isaac Newton, he developed the differential and infinitesimal calculus, introduced the integral sign, built a calculating machine (in 1672) which could multiply, divide and extract square roots, developed the dual system (precursor of modern computer technology), invented a device to measure wind and drafted plans for submarines!
Linde, Carl von 1842 1934 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Carl von Linde developed a technical method (the Linde process), which makes the liquefaction of gases and oxygen in large quantities possible. Among other things, this improved refrigeration processes.
Mach, Ernst 1838 1916 🇦🇹 Austria Physics and philosophy. Velocity, relative to the speed of sound at 20° C = 343 m/s and defined using a unit in his name: “Mach number”. His contribution to physics included a study of shock waves. Through experimentation Ernst Mach also confirmed the Doppler effect, which was still controversial in his day.
Marconi, Guglielmo 1874 1937 🇮🇹 Italy Physics. Nobel Prize 1909 Guglielmo Marconi was a pioneer of radio technology. Using evidence of electromagnetic waves and antennas from the Russian Popov, Marconi built the first wireless radio link. Guglielmo Marconi received the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Maxwell, James Clerk 1831 1879 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and mathematics. James Maxwell was famous for his Theory of Electromagnetism. Maxwell discovered light is electromagnetic radiation. He made valuable contributions to the theory of gases and heat. Maxwell calculated the average speed of molecules in gases “Maxwell’s Law” along with new insights in optics.
Mayer, Julius Robert 1814 1878 🇩🇪 Germany Physics and chemistry. Julius Mayer provided essential foundations for the field of thermodynamics. Mayer described the principle of the conservation of energy. This still holds true in chemistry, physics and engineering today. Unfortunately, James Joule took most of the credit for his discoveries.
Meitner, Lise 1878 1968 🇦🇹 Austria, 🇸🇪 Sweden Physics. Lise Meitner worked in the areas of nuclear physics and radioactivity and was in the group that discovered nuclear fission. Her colleague, Otto Hahn, was awarded the Nobel Prize for their work which has been a controversial decision for the Nobel committee ever since.
Michelson, Albert 1852 1931 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Nobel Prize 1907. Albert Michelson was the first person to measure the speed of light with electrical equipment around 1930. He had already developed a system for measuring light waves named after him “Michelson interferometer” for which he was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize for physics.
Nobel, Alfred Bernhard 1833 1896 🇸🇪 Sweden Physics and chemistry. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite along with 355 other patents. He Introduced the world-famous Nobel prizes for various fields after reading his obituary while still alive. Shocked by its lacklustre content he set about improving his legacy. Nobelium, a synthetic element, was named after him.
Newton, Sir Isaac 1642 1727 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics, mathematics and astronomy. Isaac Newton was an introverted genius and child prodigy. As a child student in Cambridge Isaac Newton revolutionized the fields of mathematics (calculus), optics (color theory) and mechanics (universal gravitation, formulated after an apple fell from a tree hitting him on the head). Later Newton calculated Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, lunar orbit and tides, described the “binomial theorem”, devised formulas for calculating sound velocity and the penetrative power of missiles. In order to avoid frequent disturbances by his cat, he even developed the cat flap. Newton’s greatest work was the “Prinicipia Mathematica” in 1687. Newton is one of the best physicists of all time.
Noether, Amalie Emmy 1882 1935 🇩🇪 Germany Mathematics, Physics. Amalie Noether was notable for her work on abstract algebra and theoretical physics, leading Albert Einstein to describe her as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. Other special fields were theories of rings, fields, and algebras. “Noether’s theorem”, published in 1918, states the connection between symmetry and its corresponding conservation law.
Ohm, Georg Simon 1789 1854 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Simon Ohm examined the relationship between current, voltage and resistance. If two of the three variables are known, the third can be determined by Ohm’s formula:
Amperage divided by Voltage = Resistance.
Oppenheimer, Robert 1904 1967 🇩🇪 Germany, 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Robert Oppenheimer researched quantum mechanics. Oppenheimer developed Trinity, the first atomic bomb in the world. He was horrified by the effect and condemned further missions after he saw the effects of Hiroshima. One of the best physicists of the modern era.
Pascal, Blaise 1623 1662 🇫🇷 France Mathematics and physics. Blaise Pascal proved the existence of the vacuum. His experiment known as “Vacuum in the vacuum” placed a mercury barometer in the center of another barometer. The Frenchman also discovered that air pressure decreases with height. Pascal was also a co-founder of probability theory.
Pauli, Wolfgang 1900 1958 🇦🇹 Austria Physics and mathematics. Nobel Prize 1945. Wolfgang Pauli provided important insights into quantum physics. Specifically his “exclusion principle” which is related to so-called spin. Pauli received the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics for these principles.
Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecila
1900 1979 🇬🇧 Great Britain Astronomy and astrophysics. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s 1925 doctoral thesis “Stellar Atmospheres; a Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars” reached the groundbreaking conclusion that the composition of stars was related to the abundance of hydrogen and helium in the Universe. This contradicted the scientific wisdom of the time but was independently confirmed in 1929. Astronomer Otto Struve described Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s work as “The most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy“. Payne-Gaposchkin became an American citizen in 1931.
Planck, Max 1858 1947 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Nobel Prize 1918. Max Planck assumed that energy is radiated as so-called quantum (i.e. not as a stream but in packets), and thus founded quantum theory. This states that the size of an energy packet is proportional to the number of oscillations (multiplied by the constant factor h). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918. One of the best physicists of all time.
Ramón y Cajal, Santiago 1852 1934 🇪🇸 Spain Physics and medicine. Nobel Prize 1906. Santiago Ramón y Cajal was a brain researcher who discovered the central nervous system consists of billions of neurons which communicate via so-called synapses. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his insight in 1906. One of Spain’s best physicists of all time.
Randall, Lisa 1962 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Lisa Randall is a theoretical physicist active in the fields of cosmology and particle physics at Harvard University. Her research covers i.a. elementary particles, supersymmetry, extra dimensions of space, and dark matter. Among others, she is the winner of the Andrew Gemant Award, the Lilienfeld Prize, and the Klopsted Memorial Award.
Riemann, Bernhard 1826 1866 🇩🇪 Germany Mathematics and physics. Bernhard Riemann was instrumental in non-Euclidean geometry “parallel axiom“, the general theory of functions and differential equations.
Roentgen, Wilhelm Konrad 1845 1923 🇩🇪 Germany Physics. Nobel Prize 1901. Konrad Roentgen found a new type of penetrating X-rays in 1895. This later led to computer tomography and ultrasonography. In 1901 he received the first ever awarded Nobel Prize for Physics. One of Germany’s best physicists.
Schrödinger, Erwin 1887 1961 🇦🇹 Austria Physics. Nobel Prize 1933. Erwin Schrödinger described wave mechanics as the basis of quantum mechanics in his Schrödinger equation. Schrödinger also founded a theory of color perception. Schrödinger received the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Siemens, Werner von 1816 1892 🇩🇪 Germany Physics and mechanics. Werner von Siemens discovered early on that rubber is suitable as an insulator. In 1849 Siemens founded a company to manufacture submarine cables. He also improved dynamo using electricity instead of a bar magnet.
Stevin, Simon 1548 1620 🇳🇱 Netherlands Physics and mathematics. Simon Stevin is the founder of modern statics and hydrostatics. Stevin formulated the law of forces; the “hydrostatic paradox” and other laws such as the relationship between force and displacement on an inclined plane.
Strutt, John William 1842 1919 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. Nobel Prize 1904. John William Strutt (Baron Rayleigh) researched optics, electricity, thermodynamics and wave theory. He prepared the discovery of the noble gases (see Ramsay). Strutt was the first person to explain why the sky is blue, due to light scattering.
Tesla, Nikola 1856 1943 🇦🇹 Austria, 🇺🇸 USA Physics, engineering and futurist. Nikola Tesla developed the first Alternating Current (AC) system. As an inventor Tesla developed wireless lighting and tried to set up worldwide wireless electric power distribution network but ran out of funds. Tesla was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937.
Thomson, Joseph John 1856 1940 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. Nobel Prize 1906. Sir J.J. Thompson discovered the free electron through his research into cathode rays in 1897. Thompson also discovered ions and electrons are the charge carriers in electrical discharges in gases. 1906 Nobel Prize for Physics. One of the best physicists of all time.
Tyndall, John
1820 1893 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. John Tyndall studied diamagnetism. He made discoveries about infrared radiation and the physical properties of air. He also published books about experimental physics and was professor of physics at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, England. John Tyndall was also a notable mountaineer.
Van de Graaf, Robert 1901 1967 🇺🇸 USA Physics. Most famous for developing the eponymous Van de Graaf generator between 1931 and 1933. The generator was able to generate millions of volts which were used to accelerate charged particles.
Volta, Alessandro 1745 1827 🇮🇹 Italy Physics. Alessandro Volta built on Luigi Galvani’s (1737-1798) discovery of the electric current to discover the electrolysis of water. Among others, Volta invented the battery (1800), an ampere meter and the “voltaic pile“.
Watt, James 1736 1819 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics. James Watt perfected the efficiency of steam engines by developing new capacitors and the use of connecting rods. James Watt invented “Watt’s parallelogram” and a land survey telescope among other things.
Wu, Chien-Shiung 1912 1997 🇨🇳 China Physics. Nobel Prize 1957. Chien-Shiung Wu was an important contributor in the field of nuclear physics. She is famous for the “Wu experiment”, that earned her and her colleagues the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics. Wu also won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978 and participated in the Manhattan Project. Wu was often compared to Marie Curie with nicknames including “the Chinese Madame Curie” and the “Queen of Nuclear Research”. Wu is one of China’s best physicists.
Young, Thomas 1773 1829 🇬🇧 Great Britain Physics and medicine. Thomas Young was gifted in languages and all-round genius. At aged two he spoke 10 languages fluently. He went on to research color theory, light waves, the tides, statics and technology. He also deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics, including the three scripts of the famous “Rosetta Stone“.

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