The Top 10 Greatest Scientists of All Time

by Learnhall Contributor, Neema Busolo

Scientists are important for the world because they help people make sense of the world in myriad ways; plus, they help more everyday people survive by creating vaccines and treatments for diseases. If a scientist finds the cure for cancer, he/she will undoubtedly make this list immediately as it’s the most notable brutal disease without a vaccine.

  1. Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein is no new name in history.  When you think of the greatest scientist in the world, his name is the first that pops into your mind…and it’s for a reason.  He is famous for his theory of relativity from which the equation E = mc² was derived. He is also known to be one of the smartest scientists with an estimated IQ of 160.


Though he is famous for his theory and sharp mind, his background and achievements are least known by many.

He was born on March 14, 1879.

 He studied in Munich, then later joined the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich. In 1905, he published four papers that made contributions to the theory of photoelectric effect, explained Brownian motion, special relativity and mass-energy equivalence.


In 1922, he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. He was denied the award for the theory of relativity since the committee found no proof in his work. He died on 18th April 1955.


  1. Marie Curie


Marie Curie, better known as Marie Solomea Sklodowska Curie, was a Polish physicist. She is famous for her work on radioactivity.



She was born on 7 November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland.

She completed her secondary education at 16 years, and at 18 years, she started working as a governess. She relocated to Paris in 1891. Curie made two discoveries in 1898, one of which she named “polonium” after her native Poland and the other “radium,” which is taken from the word “radius.”
She earned a Ph.D. in science in 1903. Eight years later, she won the Nobel Prize in two fields: Physics and Chemistry. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in those fields. She died on 4 July 1934. 


  1. Isaac Newton.


Isaac Newton is known to have discovered gravity and invented calculus.

He was born in 1643 in England.

He attended school at Grantham and Cambridge. He delivered lectures at the college, two years after receiving his bachelors degree in 1665. While in college, he studied the works of Aristotle, Descartes and other philosophers. He summarized his progress in 1669.


He also developed his study in optics which was later published in a book: Opticks. Newton later published more books such as ‘’The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, “The Method of Fluxions and Infinite Series” and many more.


In 1687, Newton began to work on his study on the law of universal gravitation. In his study, he embraced the principle of inertia and force law. This study was based on his three laws of motion.


In 1687, he published a comprehensive theory of gravity. He became a knight in 1705, earning himself the name “Sir Isaac Newton”. He died in 1727.




  1. Nikola Tesla


Nikola Tesla was an American inventor. He is famous for his discovery of the alternating current and is known for his inventions such as the Tesla coil, Tesla turbine, radio, magnifying transmitter, induction motor, hydroelectric power and the shadowgraph.


 He was born in 1856 in Croatia. He attended universities in Austria and Prague. He constructed his first induction motor in 1883 in Strasburg. He invented the Tesla coil in 1891 and the first remote-controlled boat in 1898. In the early 1900s, he discovered the terrestrial stationary waves, which according to him, would transmit electrical energy around the world. In 1915, he was awarded the Nobel prize in Physics but he rejected it after he learned that he was to share the prize with Thomas Edison. He died in 1943.


  1. Galileo Galileo


           Galileo Galilei was a famous mathematician, philosopher and astronomer.

He was born on 15 February 1564 in Pisa, Tuscany.

He studied at a school near Florence. He later studied at the University of Pisa. At the university, he was meant to study medicine but studied mathematics and philosophy instead.


In 1609, he invented the telescope after hearing about an instrument in the Netherlands that could magnify objects. In 1610, he made a discovery about four moons that revolved around Jupiter. He wrote his discoveries in a book, “Sidereus Nuncius”. He died in 1642.




  1. Charles Darwin


Charles Darwin is famous for his scientific theory of evolution by natural selection.

He was born on 12 February 1809 in England.

He studied at the University of Edinburg and Christ’s College in Cambridge. In 1831, he went on his first geological field trip to Wales with Reverend Adam Sedgwick.


          In the same year, he accompanied Robert Fitzroy on his first voyage across     South America. During his trip, he explored regions in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Galapagos. He also collected samples of plants, animals, rocks and fossils. It is from these discoveries that he devised the theory of evolution in 1832. In 1836, he completed his voyage and documented his findings.


He made a publication in 1839, Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of Various Countries Visited by H.M.S Beagle. In 1859, he published “On the Origin of Species”. It documented his study on evolution and natural selection. He died on April,1882.


  1. Michael Faraday


 Michael Faraday is famous for his contribution to the fields of electrochemistry and magnetism. He was born on 22 September 1791 in England.


At a young age, he invented an electrostatic generator. In 1820, he discovered two compounds: carbon and chlorine. He built the electric motor in the same year.


In 1831, he discovered electric induction and in 1845, he made a discovery in the field of magnetism. He conducted an experiment that led to the Faraday Effect; the rotation of a polarization plane of a light beam by a magnetic field. He died on 25 August 1867.


  1. Rosalind Franklin.


Rosalind Elsie Franklin was a British scientist. She is best known for her discovery of the structure of DNA.  

She was born on 25 July 1920 in London. She attended St.Paul’s Girls’ School and then proceeded to Newnham College where she studied physical chemistry. She moved to Cambridge University and earned her degree. She also helped to conduct research on physical chemistry.

In 1942, she worked as an assistant researcher for the British Coal Utilisation Research Association. She researched the physical chemistry of carbon and coal. In 1945, she received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge. In 1952, she photographed her first X-ray diffraction pattern of DNA. This photograph was named Photo51. She died on 16 April 1958.


  1. Thomas Edison.


Thomas Edison is well known for his invention of the light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera and his improvements in the telegraph and the telephone. He is also known for acquiring 1093 patents.


He was born on 11 February 1847 in Ohio.

He attended school in Ohio. In 1863, he studied telegraphy. He invented the phonograph in 1877.


In 1878, he started his company, the Edison Electric Company with the help of J.P.Morgan and other investors. In the following year, he invented the light bulb. He also discovered a direct flow of current which he named “direct current”. In 1891, he invented a working motion picture camera which he patented. In 1912, at the request of Henry Ford, he designed a self-starting battery that was to be used in the Model T automobile. This union sparked a long-time friendship between the two. Edison died on 18 October 1931.


  1. Archimedes                                                                                                                                                           


Archimedes is famous for his discovery of the relation between surface area and volume of a sphere. He is also famous for the Archimedes principle: the principle of buoyancy.

He was born in Syracuse at around 287 B.C.

Most of his life was spent in Syracuse. He helped to defend his country against the Romans by constructing war machines. He invented the Archimedes screw which was used to empty seawater from a ship. He is known for his “Eureka moment”. He died at around 212 B.C.


These are some of the greatest scientists in history. There are many more who have not been mentioned. Science is a growing subject. Every year the number of scientists increases leading to an increase in the number of discoveries, theories and inventions.



Robert Friedman.(2022, August 10). The dramatic story behind general relativity’s Nobel Prize snub.,law%20of%20the%


Science Never Ends: Marie Curie.

Richard S.Westfall.Isaac Newton.English physicist and mathematician.


YouTube.The Genius of Nikola Tesla. (2021).

YouTube.(2022, March).The Story of Galileo Galilei: The Father of Modern Science.

Adrian J. Desmond. (2022, November 9).Charles Darwin. British naturalist.


YouTube.(2022).Life of Michael Faraday


Rosalind Franklin Society. (2021). The Life and Times of Rosalind Franklin.


Mathew Josephson. (2022, October 14).Thomas Edison.American inventor

Gerald J. Toomer. (2022, October 6).Archimedes.Greek mathematician.

Michio Kaku. (2022, October 18). Albert Einstein.German-American physicist.

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