Famous Scientists A-E

Famous Scientists “An Algorithm Must Be Seen To Be believed” – Donald Knuth

Great quote from one of the highly talented famous scientists, witty mathematician, computer scientist and Stanford Professor Donald E Knuth. An algorithm is a way of solving problems with a formula or procedure and is named after the Persian mathematician and astronomer Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi who was born around 780 AD. His name was translated into Latin as “Algoritmi” and led to the spelling we use today.

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Famous ScientistsCountryBorn / DiedSpecialist areasNotable Achievements
Al-Khwarizmi, Muhammad,Iran780-850 BCMathematics, AstronomyMuhammad Al-Khwarizmi is credited with formalising the so-called Arabic numerals 0-9 (which he transferred from the Indians), the four basic arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) as well as algebra and algorithms (algorithm even derives from the Latin spelling of his name). He is one of the first famous scientists in history.
Alberti, Leon Battista Italy1404-1472Mathematics PhysicsVersatile talent; studied physics, mathematics, law and art, admired as a rider, athlete, musician and composer, made inventions, was an architect, author in several languages.
Alzheimer, Alois Germany1864-1915Medicine, PsychologyPublished the study “An unusual illness of the cerebral cortex” in 1906 and previously found protein deposits in the brain of his “demented” patient, Auguste from the insane asylum of Frankfurt am Main.
Ampère, André M France1775-1863Mathematics PhysicsRegarded as the founder of electrodynamics, discovered that electric currents exert attractive and repulsive forces on each other, the cause of magnetism. The unit for measuring the strength of an electric current is named after him.
Anaxagoras of Klazomenai Greece499-428 BCAstronomy PhilosophyAll rounder; among other things, he was the founder of meteorology, found the causes of wind, clouds, thunder and lightning, moon phases and eclipses. Conducted experiments on the body and brain and much more.
Archimedes Greece287-212 BCMathematics, Physics, MechanicsMultifaceted genius; calculated the number pi, founded the current day integral calculus, discovered “specific gravity” when a full bath tub into which he climbed overflowed. “The volume of a body is equal to the amount of water it displaces”, important when building ships. He invented the Archimedes screw for pumping water and developed a system for calculating large numbers. He was also a shipbuilder and designed modern weapons and war techniques such as catapults.
Aristarchus of Samos Greece310-230 BCAstronomy, MathematicsCalculated the distance from the sun to the moon and their sizes, was the first to explain the heliocentric system (the earth revolving around the sun) and the sphere of fixed stars. Copernicus later took over his teachings.
Aristotle Greece384-322 BCPhysics, Zoology, PhilosophyDefined the method of exact research. His writings inspired many scientists for millennia. He founded the first university in Athens, was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. He is considered the father of zoology, and wrote widely on topics such as reproduction and heredity transmission.
Avicenna Iran980-1037Medicine, PhilosophyA child prodigy of the Middle Ages. He was a doctor, physician, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, theologian, geologist, lawyer, inventor, and he also wrote poetry. He led a life made for the movies and wrote two encyclopedias of medicine on diagnoses, treatments, prevention, hygiene, medicinal plants, surgery, cosmetics and drugs.
Becquerel, Henri, F France1852-1908Physics, Nobel Prize 1903Discovered 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 for his work.
Behring, Emil von Germany1854-1917Medicine, physiology, immunologyA student of Robert Koch‘s, he found an antitoxin healing agent against diphtheria in the form of iodine trichloride. Treated patients were subsequently immune against diphtheria. Behring then used their blood to produce a serum.
Bohr, Niels Denmark1885-1962Physics, Nobel Prize 1922Discovered that energy does not flow constantly, but in small spurts (quanta). He laid down the foundations of modern atomic physics and received the Nobel Prize in 1922.
Boltzmann, LudwigAustria1844-1906PhysicsLudwig 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.
Bolyai, János Hungary1802-1860MathematicsLed an exciting life alternating between military service, studying mathematics, learning nine languages, playing the violin and numerous duels. He is most famous for his treatise on geometry, which refuted Euclid’s parallel postulate.
Boyle, Robert Great Britain1627-1691Physics, ChemistryUniversal talent and famous scientist; 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).
Bradley, James Great Britain1693-1762AstronomyDiscovered in 1725 the aberration of light (proof of the heliocentric worldview) and calculated from this the speed of light, 300,000 km a second.
Braun, Wernher von Germany1912-1977Physics, AstronomySignificant rocket designer. He launched rockets in 1934 already and later developed the V2. In 1945, he emigrated to the United States where as a NASA employee he, along with other famous scientists, constructed the first moon rockets.
Brown, Robert Great Britain1773-1858BiologyAlthough Brown discovered the cell nucleus In 1831, he didn’t attach any importance to it. This was achieved by botanist Mathias Schleiden (1804-1881) and zoologist Theodor Schwann (1810-1882). Both discovered that the whole plant consists of cells that form an “independent living community”.
Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm Germany1811-1899ChemistryDeveloped spectral analysis, with Gustav Kirchhoff, which aids the research and proof of chemical elements. Famous for improving laboratory burners (“Bunsen burner”).
Cavendish, Henry Great Britain1731-1810Chemistry, physicsWealthy, eccentric loner and misogynist; regarded as a pioneer of modern chemistry; weighed and measured many gases and elements (before and after combustion), discovered among other things, the element hydrogen.
Celsius, Anders Sweden1701-1744AstronomyAnders Celsius initially proposed determining the boiling point of water at 0 and the freezing point at 100 degrees. It wasn’t until a year after his death, in 1745, that this scale was turned on its head by Carl Linnaeus and freezing point became zero.
Chadwick, James Great Britain1891-1974Physics, Nobel Prize 1935Proved in 1932 the existence of the neutron, built the first particle accelerator (cyclotron) and thereby prepared for the development of the first nuclear chain reaction.
Copernicus, Nicholas
1473-1543Astronomy, MathematicsThe Earth, which rotates on its own axis every 24 hours, is one of many planets revolving around the fixed sun. Fixed stars don’t move either. The moon rotates in circular orbits around the Earth. With these findings, Copernicus shattered the old worldview in 1543.
Da Vinci, Leonardo Italy1452-1519Medicine, Physics, AstronomyArtistic genius who was also a doctor, architect, astronomer and engineer. His irrepressible curiosity drove him to explore (almost) everything and is one of the most widely known famous scientists. He 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 Great Britain1766-1844PhysicsJohn 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.
Darwin, Charles Great Britain1809-1882BiologyFather of the theory of evolution and one of the famous scientists. Traveled around the world for four years, studied fossils and concluded that stronger and fitter life forms always prevail and adapt. He was an atheist with agnostic tendencies.
Davy, Humphrey Great Britain1778-1829Physics, ChemistryPioneer of the theory of electricity, by means of electric currents was able to isolate elements such as calcium, barium, strontium, for the first time, developed among other things a safety lamp for miners.
Descartes, René France1596-1650Mathematics, PhilosophyRegarded as one of the fathers (along with Pierre de Fermat, 1607-1665) of analytic geometry and a leading figure in the scientific revolution. He set new standards with his work on dynamics, optics and astronomy. Most famous for his quote “I think; therefore I am” (cogito ergo sum).
Doppler, Christian Austria1803-1853Physics, MathematicsCalculated 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 USA1847-1931PhysicsThomas 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. He became one of the most famous scientists for inventing the first light bulb, using a thread of carbon.
Ehrlich, Paul Germany1854-1915Medicine, Nobel Prize 1908Founder of chemotherapy and researcher into immunity and serum therapy. He examined corpuscles and in his theory of “side-chains” discovered the formation of antibodies. Paul Ehrlich also found the cause of sleeping sickness and syphilis as well as the first effective agent (“Salvarsan”) against syphilis.
Einstein, Albert Germany1879-1955Mathematics, Physics, Nobel Prize 1921With his two theories of relativity Albert Einstein revolutionized the understanding of matter, space, time and gravitation and became one the most famous scientists: 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.
Empedocles Greece495-435 BCMedicine, BiologyFounder of the four-element doctrine. The four elements (fire, air, water, earth) make everything in the world. Empedocles described the flow of blood to and from the heart and recognized that skin can breathe.
Eudoxus of Cnidus Greece408 – 355 BCMathematics, AstronomyCreator of the doctrine of ratio equations and volume calculations for circles, spheres, cones and pyramids. Physician and teacher of Menaechmus (380-320 BC), who discovered the ellipse, parabola and hyperbola.
Euclid of Alexandria Greece360-280 BCMathematicsHis principal work is the “Elements of Geometry” consisting of 13 books. Among other topics, it deals with formulas, triangles, parallelograms, spheres, cones, circular gauges and many other mathematical theorems like the parallels axiom “the sum of the angles in a triangle is always 180°”.
Euler, Leonhard Switzerland1707-1783Mathematics, PhysicsDespite going blind later in life, Euler was one of the most prolific famous scientists around. He wrote 866 publications, established new symbols such as the summation sign Σ, founded the calculus of variations and, partly, analysis. In mechanics, he discovered equations for the motion of rigid bodies and fluids (hydrodynamics), and developed a wave theory to calculate lens in the field of optics. Find more famous scientists on next pages.

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