17th Century Scientists

Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Scientists, including Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Robert Hooke, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Christiaan Huygens.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton
49
Famous As: Scientist, Mathematician
Birthdate: January 4, 1643
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: March 31, 1727

One of the most influential and popular scientists of all time, Sir Isaac Newton played a prominent role in our understanding of natural phenomena. He formulated the law of universal gravitation and laws of motion. He also developed the Newtonian telescope among other devices. Apart from science, Newton was also intrigued by religion, occult, and alchemy.

 2 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
156
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 3 René Déscartes

René Déscartes
16
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.
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 4 Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal
21
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

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 5 Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler
14
Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: December 27, 1571
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Weil der Stadt, Germany
Died: November 15, 1630

This 17th-century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer is remembered for his pathbreaking work on optics. He invented a developed version of the refracting telescope. He also laid down Kepler's laws of planetary motion and wrote Astronomia Nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.

 6 Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 28, 1635
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: March 3, 1703

Scientist Robert Hooke, also called England's Leonardo, initially gained recognition as an architect, conducting surveys following the Great Fire of London. He also taught geometry and was part of the Royal Society. He assisted Robert Boyle and eventually developed his own microscope, thus becoming the first to visualize micro-organisms.

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 7 Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle
7
Famous As: Founder of Modern Chemistry, Boyle's Law
Birthdate: January 25, 1627
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: December 30, 1691

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish chemist, natural philosopher, inventor, and physicist. Regarded as the first modern chemist, Boyle is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry. One of the pioneers of the scientific method, Robert Boyle is also remembered for his books, including The Sceptical Chymist, which is viewed as a keystone book in chemistry.

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 8 Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huygens
15
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: April 14, 1629
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: July 8, 1695

From proposing the wave theory of light to discovering the actual shape of the rings of Saturn and inventing the pendulum clock, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens had contributed a lot to science. Born to a diplomat, Huygens had the privilege of an elite education but remain sickly throughout his life.

 9 Pierre de Fermat

Pierre de Fermat
4
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: August 17, 1601
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Beaumont-de-Lomagne
Died: January 12, 1665

Seventeenth-century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat was also a qualified lawyer. Remembered mostly for his contribution to number theory, probability, calculus, and analytic geometry, he was also known for his proficiency in six languages, including Greek and Latin. One of his major works, Introduction to Loci, was released posthumously.

 10 Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley
6
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 8, 1656
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haggerston, Shoreditch, London, England
Died: January 14, 1742

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer and mathematician who was mainly concerned with practical applications of science. He abandoned college education to travel to St. Helena. He published catalogue of 341 southern stars with telescopically determined locations. Known for his wide range of interest, he helped Newton to publish his magnum opus,  Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. He used Newton's Law of Motion to compute periodicty of Halley’s Comet.

 11 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
7
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: May 24, 1686
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: September 16, 1736

 12 Evangelista Torricelli

Evangelista Torricelli
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 15, 1608
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Faenza
Died: October 25, 1647

Evangelista Torricelli, a student of Galileo, later made a name for himself as a physicist and a mathematician with his invention of the barometer. He also laid down the Torricelli’s theorem and discovered the Torricellian vacuum. The torr, a unit of pressure, bears his name.

 13 Jacob Bernoulli

Jacob Bernoulli
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 27, 1654
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: August 16, 1705

Born into a family of drug merchants, Jacob Bernoulli was forced to study theology by his father but later deviated to math. He taught math and laid down the Bernoulli’s equation and calculus of variations. Apart from him and his brother, Johann Bernoulli, his family later produced more great mathematicians.

 14 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
4
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: October 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Delft, Netherlands
Died: August 26, 1723

Seventeenth-century Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, also known as the Father of Microbiology, is remembered as a pioneer of microscopy. His contribution to microbiology included the discovery of spermatozoa, bacteria, and muscle fibers. Though he had not authored any book, his letters to the Royal Society were later published.

 15 Gottfried W. Leibniz

Gottfried W. Leibniz
8
Famous As: Polymath, Mathematician
Birthdate: July 1, 1646
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 14, 1716
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a significant logician, mathematician, and philosopher of the Enlightenment era. He laid down his own concepts of differential and integral calculus. He was behind the invention of the mass-produced mechanical calculator and modified the binary number system. He also laid down a separate library cataloging system.

 16 Johann Bernoulli

Johann Bernoulli
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 6, 1667
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Basel
Died: January 1, 1748

Brother and colleague of Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli and part of the famous Bernoulli family of mathematicians, Johann Bernoulli was initially pushed to join his family business of drug and spices. He later took up medicine, eventually deviating to math and contributing to infinitesimal calculus, along with Jacob.

 17 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini
3
Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Perinaldo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1712
Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the Cassini Division, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the Académie des Sciences

 18 John Dee

John Dee
12
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tower Ward, London
Died: February 29, 1609

Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.

 19 Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren
4
Famous As: Architect
Birthdate: October 20, 1632
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Knoyle
Died: February 25, 1723

Architect Sir Christopher Wren had built over 50 churches in London, the most popular of them being the St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was a major force behind the formation of the Royal Society and was also knighted for his achievements. He was also a member of the English Parliament.

 20 Johan de Witt

Johan de Witt
10
Famous As: Mathematician, Politician
Birthdate: September 24, 1625
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dordrecht
Died: August 20, 1672

 21 Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de la Cruz
14
Famous As: Poet, Nun, Writer, Mathematician, Philosopher, Feminist, Composer
Birthdate: November 12, 1651
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tepetlixpa
Died: April 17, 1695

 22 Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 10, 1628
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Crevalcore
Died: September 30, 1694

Marcello Malpighi was forced to take up grammatical studies by his father but later earned doctorates in philosophy and medicine. Malpighi revolutionized medical science by discovering things such as taste buds, red blood cells, and the pulmonary and capillary network connecting veins and arteries. Many physiological features bear his name.

 23 Hennig Brand

Hennig Brand
3
Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

 24 Abraham de Moivre

Abraham de Moivre
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Statistician
Birthdate: May 26, 1667
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vitry-le-François
Died: November 27, 1754

 25 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
4
Famous As: Physician, Naturalist, Poet, Writer, Painter, Entomologist, Parasitologist
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: April 22, 1698

Called the founder of experimental biology and father of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His book Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti includes most of his famous experiments, while his poem book Bacco in Toscana is counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.   

 26 Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
3
Famous As: philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

 27 James Gregory

James Gregory
2
Famous As: mathematician, astronomer, inventor,university teacher
Birthdate: October 31, 1638
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Drumoak
Died: September 30, 1675

James Gregory was a Scottish astronomer and mathematician. A celebrated mathematician, Gregory served as a professor of mathematics in several institutions like the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews. He is also remembered for publishing several books, including Optica Promota, which describes Gregory's design for a reflecting telescope which came to be known as the Gregorian telescope.

 28 Jan Baptista van Helmont

Jan Baptista van Helmont
3
Famous As: Belgian scientist
Birthdate: January 12, 1580
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 30, 1644

 29 Nicolas Steno

Nicolas Steno
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: January 11, 1638
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 25, 1686

 30 Otto von Guericke

Otto von Guericke
3
Famous As: physicist, inventor, politician, dilettante, jurist
Birthdate: November 20, 1602
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Magdeburg
Died: May 21, 1686

Otto von Guericke was a German inventor, scientist, and politician. He made several significant contributions to the development of the Scientific Revolution. He is also credited with inventing the first air pump which he used effectively to study the phenomenon of vacuum. His studies and observation helped reveal the fact that light unlike sound can travel through a vacuum.

 31 Ole Rømer

Ole Rømer
6
Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher, Judge, Patent inventor
Birthdate: September 25, 1644
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aarhus
Died: September 19, 1710

 32 Brook Taylor

Brook Taylor
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 18, 1685
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edmonton
Died: December 29, 1731

 33 John Wallis

John Wallis
3
Famous As: mathematician, philosopher, musicologist, cryptologist
Birthdate: November 23, 1616
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ashford
Died: October 28, 1703

 34 Robert Fludd

Robert Fludd
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: January 17, 1574
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bearsted, England
Died: September 8, 1637

Best remembered for his study of occult philosophy, Robert Fludd, the son of English diplomat Sir Thomas Fludd, was also a physician. However, he was criticized for being a medical professional who believed in magic and defended Rosicrucianism. His other interests included cosmology, astrology, and Freemasonry.

 35 Charles R. Walgreen

Charles R. Walgreen
3
Famous As: American pharmacologist
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Knoxville, Illinois, United States
Died: December 11, 1939

 36 William Petty

William Petty
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: May 26, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Romsey, Hampshire, England
Died: December 16, 1687

Initially a physician and anatomy professor, William Petty also taught music. However, he later established himself as a noted economist and became famous for his works such as Treatise of Taxes and Contributions. He was a surveyor under Oliver Cromwell and was a pioneer of political arithmetic.

 37 Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
4
Famous As: Nobleman
Birthdate: April 27, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tynemouth Castle, Northumberland, England

 38 Marin Mersenne

Marin Mersenne
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Mathematician, Musicologist, Music theorist, Physicist
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé
Died: September 1, 1648

 39 Jan Evangelista Purkinje

Jan Evangelista Purkinje
3
Famous As: Physiologist
Birthdate: December 17, 1787
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Libochovice, Bohemia
Died: July 28, 1869

 40 Thomas Sydenham

Thomas Sydenham
3
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: September 10, 1624
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wynford Eagle
Died: December 29, 1689

Known as The English Hippocrates for authoring the medicine textbook Observationes Medicae, physician Thomas Sydenham is also remembered for his pathbreaking research on gout and scarlet fever. He also discovered St. Vitus’ dance, or Sydenham’s chore; believed in nosological classification of ailments; and popularized the use of quinine for treating malaria.

 41 Isaac Barrow

Isaac Barrow
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 30, 1630
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London
Died: May 4, 1677

 42 Ferdinand Verbiest

Ferdinand Verbiest
3
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: October 9, 1623
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pittem, Belgium
Died: January 28, 1688

 43 Nicolas Fatio de Duillier

Nicolas Fatio de Duillier
3
Famous As: astronomer, mathematician
Birthdate: February 16, 1664
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Basel
Died: May 12, 1753

 44 Pierre Gassendi

Pierre Gassendi
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

 45 Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin
3
Famous As: Edinburgh
Birthdate: February 1, 1698
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Argyll
Died: June 14, 1746

Colin Maclaurin was a Scottish mathematician best remembered for his contributions to algebra and geometry. A child prodigy, Maclaurin became one of the youngest professors in history when he became a professor of mathematics at the age of 19. Colin Maclaurin also contributed immensely to the study of elliptic integrals and is credited with discovering the Euler–Maclaurin formula.

 46 Georg Brandt

Georg Brandt
1
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: June 26, 1694
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Riddarhyttan, Sweden
Died: April 29, 1768

 47 Denis Papin

Denis Papin
3
Famous As: French physicist, mathematician
Birthdate: August 22, 1647
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Blois, France
Died: August 26, 1713

Best remembered for his ground-breaking invention of the pressure cooker, Denis Papin was also the man behind the first piston steam engine, which played a major part in ushering in the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, he died a destitute and remains buried in an unmarked grave in London.

 48 Johannes Hevelius

Johannes Hevelius
3
Famous As: Astronomer, Entrepreneur, Cartographer
Birthdate: January 28, 1611
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: January 28, 1687

Johannes Hevelius was an astronomer who is credited with describing 10 new constellations; seven of ten constellations described by him are used by astronomers today. He is also referred to as the founder of lunar topography for making a compilation of an atlas of the moon. He is also credited with making a comprehensive catalog of 1,564 stars.

 49 William Whiston

William Whiston
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: December 9, 1667
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leicestershire
Died: August 22, 1752

Anglican priest and mathematician William Whiston is remembered for his efforts in popularizing the works of his mentor Isaac Newton. His A New Theory of the Earth aimed at explaining the historical and scientific validity of biblical events. He was also a supporter of Arianism and Primitive Christianity.

 50 John Flamsteed

John Flamsteed
2
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 19, 1646
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denby
Died: December 31, 1719