famous chemists

Famous Scientists L-Q

Greatest Scientists L to Q: Famous Chemists, Physicists Mathematicians and more

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Famous Chemists & ScientistsCountryBorn / DiedSpecialist areasNotable Achievements by Famous Chemists & Scientists
Lagrange, Joseph-Louis Italy1736-1813Astronomy, mathematicsLagrange was a maths professor at 19 already. He performed ground breaking work in almost all areas of pure mathematics, founded analytical mechanics (Lagrangian), solved the three-body problem in celestial mechanics (Lagrangian points), the calculus of variations and the theory of complex functions.
Lamarck, Jean de France1744-1829Zoology, biologyIt wasn’t actually Charles Darwin, but Jean Lamarck who developed the first “theory of evolution”. He introduced the term “invertebrates” and recognized before Darwin that species are not immutable.
Laplace, Pierre Simon France1749-1827Physics, mathematics, astronomyThe French Revolution, Napoleon, the Bourbons… This Parisian experienced them all at close quarters. It’s quite surprising then, that in such an exciting time he was able to focus on his probability theory (in games of chance), “celestial mechanics” (the calculation of planetary orbits, and the existence of black holes).
Lavoisier, Antoine France1743-1794ChemistryAs famous chemists go, he was the father of modern chemistry. Lavoisier proved that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and that air is a compound of oxygen and nitrogen. His meticulous experiments with sulfur and phosphorus demonstrated that a burnt substance gains as much weight as the oxygen added. He provided a nomenclature for chemistry by counting and symbolizing elements. In the French Revolution, he was guillotined to death.
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm Germany1646-1716Mathematics, physics, philosophyLeibniz 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.
Lemaître, GeorgesBelgium1894-1966Cosmologist, Catholic priestLemaître is considered the father of the Big Bang theory. In his 1931 paper he proposed the shocking idea that the Universe was expanding, which solved related equations of General Relativity. Edwin Hubble validated this with his telescope showing distant galaxies receding. Lemaître’s conclusion was if the universe is expanding, then it must have originated at a finite point in time.
Liebig, Justus von Germany1803-1873ChemistryJustus Liebig was a pioneer of organic chemistry, founder of agriculture chemistry, and one of the most famous chemists. He founded a chemical laboratory and scientific training center in Giessen and there performed many organic elemental analyses with his students. He investigated metabolism, and showed that agriculture withdraws important nutrients from the soil which can only be replaced by adding fertilizers.
Linde, Carl von Germany1842-1934PhysicsCarl 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.
Linnaeus, Carl Sweden1707-1778Botany, zoology, medicineThe Swedish naturalist, botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus (Carl Linnaeus) documented and classified minerals, plants and animals for the first time into phyla, classes, order, family, genus and species. Major works: “Species Plantarum” (1752) and “Systema Naturae” (1758).
Lobachevsky, Nikolai Ivanovich Russia1793-1856MathematicsThe Russian developed the first complete system of non-Euclidean geometry, based on the hypothesis of the acute angle (hyperbolic geometry).
Lorenz, Konrad Austria1903-1989ZoologyKonrad Lorenz is still considered one of the most important behavioral researchers (anthropologist) of all time. After his experiments, mainly in graylag geese, and especially with one goose named “Martina”, he established the concept of “imprinting”. He received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his research.
Mach, Ernst Austria1838-1916Physics, philosophyVelocity relative to the speed of sound (at 20° C = 343 m/s) today bears his name: Mach. Through experimentation he also confirmed the Doppler effect which was still controversial in his day.
Magnus, Albert Germany1193-1280Biology, philosophyAs one of the founders of modern science, he described a large number of plants (De vegetabilibus) and animals and insects (De animalibus). Albert Magnus was a bishop and teacher of the famous philosopher Thomas Aquinas.
Marconi, Guglielmo Italy1874-1937PhysicsA pioneer of radio technology. Using evidence of electromagnetic waves and antennas from the Russian Popov, Marconi built the first wireless radio link. For this he received the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Maxwell, James Great Britain1831-1879Physics, mathematicsJames Maxwell discovered that light is electromagnetic radiation and contributed valuable input to the theory of gases and heat. Among other achievements, he calculated the average speed of molecules in gases (Maxwell’s Law) and discovered new insights in optics.
Mayer, Julius Robert Germany1814-1878Physics, chemistryJulius Mayer was a physician and traveled a lot. He provided essential foundations for the field of thermodynamics. The famous chemist described the principle of the conservation of energy which still holds true in chemistry, physics and engineering today. Unfortunately, James Joule got most of the credit for his discoveries.
Mendel, Gregor J. Austria1822-1884BiologyThrough his cross-breeding experiments with peas and beans, this Augustinian monk revealed new insights into genetic transmission rules. Gregor Mendel’s Mendelian Laws made him the father of artificial insemination.
Mendeleev, Dmitri Russia1834-1907ChemistryOne of Russia’s most famous chemists, Dmitri Mendeleev provided order to the chaos of the elements by establishing the Periodic Table of chemical elements. He divided the elements into eight groups and arranged them in order of increasing atomic weights. He predicted 8 elements which he labelled using the prefixes eka, dvi, and tri (taken from the Sanskrit for 1, 2 and 3). Eka-boron (Eb), eka-aluminium (Ea), eka-manganese (Em) and eka-silicon (Es) turned out to be the properties of Scandium, Gallium, Technetium and Germanium which now fill the spots in the periodic table assigned by Mendeleev.
Messier, Charles France1730-1817AstronomyIn addition to discovering twenty comets, Frenchman Charles Messier also discovered galaxies and distant stars along with other famous astronomers of his time including William Herschel, Pierre Méchain, Jérome Lalande and Johann Encke.
Michelson, Albert USA1852-1931PhysicsThe first person to measure the speed of light with electrical equipment around 1930. Previously, he developed a system for measuring light waves which was named after him (Michelson interferometer) for which he was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize for physics.
Nobel, Alfred BernhardSweden1833-1896Physics, chemistryInvented dynamite, but also held 355 other patents.
Introduced world-famous Nobel prizes for various fields after reading his obit while still alive. Shocked by its content he set about improving his legacy. Nobelium, a synthetic element, was named after him.
Newton, Sir Isaac Great Britain1642-1727Physics, mathematics, astronomyIntroverted genius and serious child prodigy. Already as a 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 he 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. His greatest work: Prinicipia Mathematica in 1687.
Ohm, Georg Simon Germany1789-1854PhysicsOhm examined the relationship between current, voltage and resistance. If two of the three variables are known, the 3rd can be determined by Ohm’s formula (amperage divided by voltage = resistance).
Omar Khayyam Persia1048-1131Mathematics, astronomySolved cubic equations in an algebraic and geometric manner, examined the so-called Pascal’s triangle and irrational numbers. The Persian Omar Khayyam designed the Islamic calendar, and was also a philosopher and poet.
Oppenheimer, Robert Germany
1904-1967PhysicsResearched quantum mechanics. Developed Trinity, the first atomic bomb in the world, but was horrified by the effect and condemned further missions after he saw the effects of Hiroshima.
Ostwald, Wilhelm Germany1853-1932ChemistryWilhelm Ostwald experimented with acids, salts and bases, explored their conductivity and reaction rates, and in doing so discovered some affinity constant (Ostwald’s Law of Dilution). The famous chemist also worked extensively with fuel cells and catalysts. In 1909 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work.
Paré, Ambroise France1510-1590MedicineConsidered the founder of modern surgery, Ambroise Paré found new ways of treating gunshot wounds, fractures and amputations (through ligation of the vessels). Among other things, he was surgeon to four French kings.
Pascal, Blaise France1623-1662Mathematics, physicsIn his experiment known as “vacuum in the vacuum”, Blaise Pascal placed a mercury barometer in the center of another barometer and proved the existence of the vacuum. The Frenchman also discovered that air pressure decreases with height. He was also a co-founder of probability theory.
Pasteur, Louis France1822-1895Chemistry, bacteriologyLouis Pasteur worked his whole life with fermentation and putrefaction. He discovered that bacteria are responsible for these processes and that they die when boiled (pasteurization). The famous chemists discovered the anthrax pathogen and a vaccine against rabies.
Pauli, Wolfgang Austria1900-1958Physics, mathematicsHe provided important insights into quantum physics, among others, his exclusion principle which is related to the so-called spin. He received the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics for these principles.
Pauling, Linus USA1901-1994Chemistry, biologyLinus Pauling conducted research with electrons and biological molecules and their chemical bonds found in nature. He is considered one of the fathers of quantum chemistry and, in 1954, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and in 1962, the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pawlow, Ivan Russia1849-1936PsychologyIvan Pavlov famously conditioned dogs by ringing a bell before giving them food. After a time, they salivated as soon as they heard the bell. Based on his research he wrote the doctrine of conditioned reflex, whose nervous activity can also be applied to humans.
Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecila
Great Britain1900-1979Astronomy, astrophysicsIn 1925 her 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 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”. She became an American citizen in 1931.
Planck, Max Germany1858-1947PhysicsMax 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.
Priestley, Joseph Great Britain1733-1804ChemistryThis clergyman didn’t became one of the most famous chemists but his achievements were remarkable. He isolated gases by using mercury which led to his discoveries of oxygen, hydrochloric acid and laughing gas (nitrous oxide). Priestley also mixed water with carbon dioxide and in the process accidentally invented mineral water popular today.
Ptolemy, Claudius Greecearound 120-168 ADAstronomy, geologyUniversal genius. The Greek Ptolemy wrote extensive works on mathematics and astronomy (his major work: Almagest), geography (definition of latitude), music theory, optics (refraction) and philosophy.
Pythagoras Greece570-510 BCMathematics, philosophy, astronomyOne of the great geniuses of his time. Pythagoras was a significant philosopher (pre-Socratic) and a famous mathematician (Pythagorean Theorem: a² + b² = c²), astronomer and scientist.

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