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Famous Scientists

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Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
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Who were the Famous Scientists?

Every year millions of new scientific research papers get published across the world. These papers shed light on almost every aspect of the universe; from the evolution of stars to the environmental changes and their effects. 

The foundation of science was laid around 1500 to 1600 centuries when a few brilliant scientists made great discoveries. The development of science is by far the most important event in the history of humankind. Ancient Greek science began using scientific methods with the likes of Aristotle, Thales of Miletus, and Pythagoras who developed ideas in astronomy, mathematics, and logic. Their ideas heavily influenced western science, thoughts, and philosophy.

But Greek science was not free from flaws. Greeks undervalued observations and favored deductive processes (a process where knowledge is built by pure thought.) Scientists started depending on evolving technology to carry out their experiments, for example, Galileo needed a telescope in the early 1600s to eliminate the old belief that the sun revolves around the earth. 

If science interests you and you are inquisitive about how it evolved, you will find a biography of famous scientists in this article where we provide you with a list of scientists and their contributions.


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Scientific Revolution

During the 16th and 17th century there were drastic changes in scientific thoughts from which a new view of nature came into light. The Greek view had dominated science for 2000 years which was now dethroned with the new transformations described below:

  • Abstract reasoning was being replaced by reeducation of common sense.

  • The qualitative view of nature was getting substituted by a quantitative view. Nature was now being viewed as a machine and not an organism.

  • A new experimental method was developed that sought definite answers to particular questions that were part of a specific theory.

  • A new criterion of explanation sprung up which stressed explaining “how” and not “why” which were the characteristics of Aristotelian research in the past.

  • The scientific revolution was at its peak in the 17th century with Sir Issac Newton leading the path. Modern physics was born after Newton gave his laws of motion.

  • The field of biology was modernized by an Englishman William Harvey who gave his theory regarding the circulation of the blood.

  • The field of optics and mechanics saw advancements by the discoveries and works of Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens who invented the pendulum clock.


Famous Scientists in the World 

Many consider Aristotle to be the first scientist although the term “scientist” came two millennia after Aristotle. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher in the 4th century BC who was a pioneer of many techniques like logic, inquiry, observation, and demonstration. We have curated a list of scientists who would tell you about some of the famous scientists and their discoveries. You would also find some of the funny and quirky quotes by famous scientists in this section.

  1. Albert Einstein - He was the whole package who set the first science riot on Jan 8th, 1930 when 4500 people without tickets broke into the New York Museum to view a film on him. He had a distinctive look of untamed hair and a witty persona with his quips like “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” 

  • Einstein was born in 1879 in Ulm, Germany, and was a precocious child. He started his journey in the field of science at an early age when he wrote a paper on magnetic fields in his teens. The turning point in Einstein’s discoveries was in 1905 when he published four of his most important papers, one of them being the relationship between energy and matter (E = mc2). His other great works comprise of:

  • Theory of general relativity in 1916

  • Discovery of the photoelectric effect in 1921 for which he won a Nobel Prize in Physics.

  • Quantum theory of light

  • The special theory of relativity

  • Avogadro’s number

  1. Marie Curie - Madame Curie was born as Maria Salomea Skłodowska in Warsaw Poland in the year 1867. Due to her family’s poor condition and her gender she had to bear many adverse situations and cross hurdles to become one of the greatest scientists in the world. After finishing their schooling, Curie and her sisters were not allowed admission for higher education. They became part of a secret organization called “Flying University” that provided a pro-Polish education. Finally, Curie headed for Paris in 1891 after working as a governess to support her sister’s education. Her journey to the discovery of radium and other important work is sketched below:

  • Inspired by the work of a French Physicist Henri Becquerel at the University of Paris, Curie began looking at uranium and the mysterious rays emitted by it.

  • She married Pierre Curie who was an accomplished Physicist who later joined her research of exploring uranium-rich ore. They discovered two elements; polonium (named after Curie’s native Poland) and radium.

  • Curie and her husband won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for their work in radioactivity. 

  • Apart from Physics, Curie’s work in chemistry also made her one of the most famous chemistry scientists. She got her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of polonium and radium. She is the only person to receive Nobel Prize in two different streams i.e. Physics and Chemistry.

  • There are many other accomplishments of Curie like establishing the Radium Institute in Paris and heading the first French military radiology center during World War I. She was the first medical physicist.

  • She died in 1934 from anemia which is supposed to have stemmed from exposure to so much radiation during her research.

  1. Issac Newton - Issac Newton was born on 25th December 1642 in Woolsthorpe, England. He studied at Cambridge University and in 1687 published his calculations and results on planetary motion in his book Principia. The Principia revealed that the same fundamentals of gravity and force governed both the planetary motions through space and motion of projectiles on earth through the air. He lived more than 200 years before the Nobel Prizes were awarded hence he did not win any Nobel prize in his lifetime. Newton was known for his arrogance and a flair for quotes like “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” Some of his groundbreaking work include:

  • Development and refinement of telescopes.

  • Many fundamentals of mathematics like the application of algebra to geometry, the discovery of binomial theorem, and the development of calculus.

  • Newton’s three laws of motion.

  • Newton’s work in astronomy and understanding of orbits of celestial bodies is one of his greatest works.

  • Newton was devoted to optics and intensively studied light and instruments that use light. The modern color theory was first described by Newton.

  1. Dmitri Mendeleev - One of the most famous chemistry scientists, Dmitri is the man behind the periodic tables which is an iconic symbol of science. Dmitri Mendeleev was born in Verkhnie Aremzyani on 8th February 1834 in the Russian province of Siberia. He started publishing original research papers by the time he attained 20 years of age.

  • Mendeleev was both an academic chemist and a teacher. 

  • He worked in Germany during 1859-1860 with Robert Bunsen at the Heidelberg university. Bunsen used chemical spectroscopy to discover the element cesium which Mendeleev got introduced to.

  • At the age of 27, Mendeleev worked like a demon for 61 days to take out a 500-page book on chemistry called “Organic Chemistry”. He received the Demidov prize for this book and was placed at the forefront of Russian education.

  • Dmitri was nominated for the Nobel prize for three consecutive years (1905, 1906, and 1907) but never received it.


Conclusion

Hopefully, this well-written article successfully made you aware of the famous scientists and what all they contributed to the world. 

FAQs on Famous Scientists

Q1. Name two scientists of the 21st century who are deemed as greatest in this era.

Ans. There have been tremendous strides in science and technology in the 21st century. Some of the outstanding scientists of this era are:

  • Stephen Hawking - He was an English theoretical physicist who was born on 8th January 1942 and breathed his last on 14th March 2018. He is accoladed for his numerous scientific books, the most famous being “Brief History of Time”. His extensive research in the field of quantum gravity and cosmology has contributed greatly to the development of science. Some of his works include theorems on gravitational singularity and theoretical predictions about black holes emitting radiation.

  • Andre Konstantin Geim - Andre is a Dutch-British physicist at the University of Manchester and was born in Russia on 21st October 1958. He won the Nobel prize in Physics in 2010 for his work on graphene. Graphene is a form of carbon that is ultra conductive and made from a single-atom-thick sheet. Graphene is identified as the thinnest, strongest, and hardest material in the world. Graphene is deemed as a superior alternative to silicon and has many uses. Andre’s research on superconductivity and metaphysics is also very promising.

Q2. What is the Bose-Einstein Condensate?

Ans. In 1924 physicist Satyendra Bose sent a paper to Einstein which outlined detailed ways of treating photons as gases. Einstein took this theory and generalized it to an ideal gas having identical atoms for which the number of particles is conserved. Einstein and Bose worked on this idea together to extend it to atoms and predicted a new state of matter called the Bose-Einstein condensate. The first example of this state of matter was produced in 1995. Bose-Einstein condensate is a group of atoms that are cooled to almost zero degrees. At that low temperature, the atoms hardly move relative to each other. These atoms start clumping together and enter the exact same energy states. At this point, the atoms start obeying Bose-einstein statistics which usually applies to identical particles like photons.