Famous Scientists 

By on March 22nd, 2012

Here’s list of some famous scientists. Deliberately short, with the aim to provide a quick memory jog or overview. If your looking for more detailed information, Google and Wikipedia have tons of it.   
8664_Albert_Einstein Albert Einstein
German-born theoretical physicist who formulated the special and general theories of relativity.  Famous mass equivalence formulae of E=mc2.  Awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Alessandro Volta 

Italian physicist best known for the development of the voltaic pile (battery).  SI unit of voltage, the volt is named after him.


Alexander Graham Bell

Scottish scientist and inventor.  Famous for his work on the telephone.

2311_Andre-Marie_Ampere André Marie Ampère
French physicist who worked on electromagnetism.  The SI unit of current, the ampere is named after him.

Benjamin Franklin

Founding Fathers of the United States, author, politician, printer, scientist, philosopher, publisher, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat. Invented the lightning rod and the famous kite experiment.


Charles Augustin de Coulomb

French physicist who pioneered research into friction and viscosity, the distribution of charge on surfaces and the laws of electrical and magnetic force.The SI unit of charge, the coulomb and Coulomb's law are named after him.


Charles Babbage

English mathematician, philosopher, mechanical engineer and computer scientist.  Originated the idea of a programmable computer.

0654_Charles_Proteus_Steinmetz Charles Proteus Steinmetz
American Mathematician and Electrical Engineer.  Instrumental in developing theories of alternating current t and hysteresis.
0825_Claude_Elwood_Shannon Claude Elwood Shannon
American electrical engineer and mathematician.  Founder of practical digital circuit design theory

Enrico Fermi

Italian physicist noted for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor. Awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity.

Frederick Winslow Taylor

American engineer who worked on improving efficiency, specifically in steel production.

Georg Simon Ohm

German physicist having influence on the development of electrical theory, specifically Ohm’s Law.  SI unit of resistance, the ohm is named after him.


George Westinghouse

American entrepreneur and engineer and founder of the Westinghouse company.  Awarded the AIEE's Edison Medal ' in 1911 for achievement in connection with the alternating current system.

Guglielmo Marconi

Italian inventor known for his development of a practical radiotelegraph system. Shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun.

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff

German physicist who contributed to the fundamental understanding of electrical circuits.  Famous for his two laws of circuit theory.


Hans Christian Oersted

Danish physicist and chemist.  Known for discovering the relationship between electricity and magnetism (electromagnetism).


Harry Nyquist

Swedish engineer who carried out work on information theory,  thermal noise ("Johnson-Nyquist noise") and the stability of feedback amplifiers.


Hendrik Wade Bode

Pioneer of modern control theory.  Widely known for developing the asymptotic magnitude and phase plot that bears his name.

2437_HeinrichHertz Heinrich Hertz

German physicist who demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic waves.  SI Unit of frequency, Hertz  is named after Him.


Isaac Newton (Sir)

English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and natural philosopher. Three laws of motion and the groundwork for classical mechanics.  Regarded by many as the greatest figure in the history of science.


Jack S. Kilby

American electrical engineer who co-won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000.  Inventor of the integrated circuit.

James Clerk Maxwell

Scottish mathematical physicist.  Formulated a set of equations on the basic laws of electricity and magnetism, called Maxwell's equations.


James Prescott Joule

English physicist who studied the heat, mechanical work and energy.  Discovered the relation between current through a resistance and heat dissipated, now called Joule's law. SI unit of work, the joule is named after him

James Watt

Scottish inventor and engineer.  Implemented improvements to the steam engine which were fundamental to the Industrial Revolution.

Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier
1768- 1830

French mathematician and physicist.  Known for the Fourier series.  The Fourier transform is also named in his honor.

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss

German mathematician and scientist. Contributed to number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, magnetism, astronomy and optics.  Known as "the prince of mathematicians" and "greatest mathematician since antiquity".


Johann Christian Andreas Doppler

Austrian mathematician and physicist.  Famous development of the Doppler effect.

Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet

German mathematician credited with the modern "formal" definition of a function.


John Ambrose Fleming (Sir)

English electrical engineer and physicist. Invented the first vacuum tube and diode. Famous for the left hand rule (for electric motors).


John von Neumann

Hungarian-born mathematician.  Many contributions to quantum physics and mathematics. Pioneer of the modern digital computer von Neumann algebra.


Leonardo da Vinci

Italian mathematician, ,architect, anatomist, sculptor, engineer, inventor,  musician, and painter. Famous for his paintings of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.  Conceptually invented a helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others.


Leonhard Euler
1707- 1783

Swiss mathematician and physicist.  Considered to he preeminent mathematician of the 18th century and one of the greatest of all time


Ludwig Boltzmann

Austrian physicist famous for his contributions in the fields of statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics.

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

German physicist.Considered the founder of quantum theory.
6888_Michael_Faraday Michael Faraday

English chemist and physicist.  One of the best best experimentalist in the history of science, he is commonly regarded as the father of electrical engineering.  SI unit of capacitance, the farad,  Faraday constant and  Faraday's law of induction are named after him.


Niels Bohr 

Danish physicist.  Made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics.

Nikola Tesla

Serb-American inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer. Significant contribution to alternating current, magnetism, polyphase power and the ac motor.  SI unit measuring magnetic flux density, the tesla, is named after him.


Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac 

British theoretical physicist .  Founder of the field of quantum physics and formulated the  “Dirac equation”.  Shared the Nobel Prize in physics for 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

French mathematician and astronomer.  Discoverer of Laplace's equation and the Laplace transform is named in honor


Robert N. Noyce 
1927- 1990

Nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley", co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel.  Awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1978 " for contributions to the silicon integrated circuit.


Samuel F. B. Morse

American inventor of the Morse Code.

Satyendra Nath Bose 

Indian physicist, best known for his work on quantum mechanics. He is honored with the naming of the boson.


Simeon Denis Poisson

French mathematician and physicist.

ThomasEdison Thomas Alva Edison
Prolific American inventor, with over 1,000 patents. Most famous for the development of the practical incandescent light bulb. Other notable achievements include the phonograph and advancements on the utility distribution and the motion picture industries.

Vladimir Zworykin

A pioneer of television technology.

Wilhelm Eduard Weber

German physicist who made significant contributions to wave theory, and electromagnetism. SI unit of magnetic flux, the weber, is named after him.


William B. Shockley

British physicist and inventor who co-invented the transistor.  Awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.


William D Coolidge
1873- 1975

American physicist contributing to the development tungsten as filaments and the Coolidge tube.


William R. Hewlett

American engineer and co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company (HP).


If there are any scientists you would like added to the list, just mention them in the comments. 

Steven McFadyen's avatar Steven McFadyen

Steven has over twenty five years experience working on some of the largest construction projects. He has a deep technical understanding of electrical engineering and is keen to share this knowledge. About the author

comments powered by Disqus

  1. Peter's avatar Peter says:
    5/11/2012 8:13 AM

    John Fleming - left and right hand rules.

    • Steven's avatar Steven says:
      5/11/2012 8:13 AM

      Thanks. I've added him to the post.

  2. Anonymous's avatar Anonymous says:
    5/11/2012 8:14 AM

    Thomas Edison?! Light Bulb

    • Steven's avatar Steven says:
      5/11/2012 8:14 AM

      Hard to imagine how I managed to leave Edison of the list. Anyhow the oversight has been corrected and he's now on the list.

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