Famous 18th Century Physicists

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Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Physicists, including Michael Faraday, Leonhard Euler, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Hans Christian Ørsted and Alessandro Volta.
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 1 
Carl F. Gauss
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Tim)
Carl F. Gauss
4
Birthdate: April 30, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brunswick, Germany
Died: February 23, 1855

German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss is remembered for his work in math and science. Known as the Princeps mathematicorum, he laid down tenets such as the Gauss's Law. He had exhibited his talent since an early age and had completed writing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae by 21.

 2 
Count Alessandro Volta
(Physicist, Chemist)
Count Alessandro Volta
7
Birthdate: February 18, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Como, Duchy of Milan, Italy
Died: March 5, 1827
While Alessandro Volta was a count by birth and was supposed to become a lawyer or a priest, he became a scientist instead. His invention of the battery led to the SI unit of electric potential being named volt. He was also the first to isolate methane gas.
 3 
Isaac Newton
(One of the Most Influential Scientists of All Time )
Isaac Newton
18
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.

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 4 
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
(Physicist, Inventor)
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1686
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: September 16, 1736

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was a scientific instrument maker, inventor, and physicist. One of the most prominent and influential personalities of the Dutch Golden Age of science and technology, Fahrenheit is credited with many important inventions, including the mercury-in-glass thermometer and Fahrenheit scale. His inventions helped shape the history of thermometry. 

 5 
Thomas Young
(Physician)
Thomas Young
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milverton
Died: May 10, 1829

Often referred as The Last Man Who Knew Everything, British polymath Thomas Young made significant contributions to a wide range of subjects like vision, light, energy, musical harmony etc. Especially famous for Wave Theory of Light, he also made significant contribution in deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Young-Helmholtz theory, Young temperament and Young's Modulus carry his legacy to these days.

 6 
Leonhard Euler
(Mathematician, Physicist)
Leonhard Euler
6
Birthdate: April 15, 1707
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Basel
Died: September 18, 1783

Leonhard Euler was a Swiss physicist, mathematician, logician, geographer, astronomer, and engineer. He is credited with making influential and important mathematical discoveries, such as graph theory and infinitesimal calculus. Widely regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific mathematicians of all time, Leonhard Euler also made pioneering contributions to analytic number theory and topology.

 7 
Anders Celsius
(Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician)
Anders Celsius
6
Birthdate: November 27, 1701
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Uppsala
Died: April 25, 1744
Inventor of the centigrade or the Celcius scale of temperature, Swedish astronomer and scientist Anders Celsius was no stranger to science, being the son of an astronomy professor and the grandson of mathematician Magnus Celsius. His expeditions confirmed Isaac Newton's belief that the earth was flattened at the poles.
 8 
John Dalton
(Chemist, Physicist and Meteorologist Best Known for Developing the 'Atomic Theory')
John Dalton
4
Birthdate: September 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England
Died: July 27, 1844

John Dalton was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist most famous for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry. He also contributed a lot to the study of color blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honor. He was the first scientist to refer to the smallest particle of matter as an “atom.” He was a Quaker and lived modestly. 

 9 
Andre Marie Ampere
4
Birthdate: January 20, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Parish of St. Nizier, Lyon, France
Died: June 10, 1836

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him. 

 10 
Amedeo Avogadro
(Chemist and Physicist)
Amedeo Avogadro
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1776
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: July 9, 1856

Son of a reputed senator and lawyer in Italy, Amedeo Avogadro was himself a qualified lawyer. However, he later delved into research as a mathematical physicist and is best remembered for laying down the Avogadro’s law, contributing to the molecular theory of gases. The Avogadro constant is named after him.

 11 
Eva Ekeblad
(Swedish Agronomist Known for Discovering a Method in 1746 to Make Alcohol and Flour From Potatoes)
Eva Ekeblad
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1724
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: May 15, 1786

Eva Ekeblad was a Swedish countess, agronomist, salon hostess, and scientist. In 1746, she discovered a method to make flour and alcohol from potatoes which earned her popularity. Her discovery made her the first female inductee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1748.

 12 
Daniel Bernoulli
(Mathematician)
Daniel Bernoulli
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1700
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Groningen
Died: March 17, 1782

Daniel Bernoulli was a Swiss physicist and mathematician. Born into the popular Bernoulli family of mathematicians, Daniel Bernoulli is renowned for his applications of mathematical equations to mechanics. He is also remembered for his pioneering work in statistics and probability. In 2002, he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

 13 
Joseph Fourier
(Mathematician & Physicist)
Joseph Fourier
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Auxerre, Burgundy, Kingdom of France (now in Yonne, France)
Died: May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

 14 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)
Jacques Charles
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 15 
Hans Christian Ørsted
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1777
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rudkøbing
Died: March 9, 1851

Hans Christian Ørsted was a Danish chemist and physicist. He was the first person to discover that electric currents can be used to create magnetic fields. His discovery was the first relationship found between magnetism and electricity. Oersted, the unit of the auxiliary magnetic field H, is named in his honor.

 16 
Sophie Germain
(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')
Sophie Germain
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1776
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rue Saint-Denis, Paris, France
Died: June 27, 1831

French mathematician Sophie Germain had used the pseudonym M. Le Blanc to get hold of notes from the École Polytechnique, as being a woman, she was not allowed to attend the institute. She later contributed to the number theory and also pioneered the elasticity theory. She died of breast cancer.

 17 
Luigi Galvani
(Anatomist, Physicist, Physician, University teacher)
Luigi Galvani
4
Birthdate: September 9, 1737
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bologna
Died: December 4, 1798

Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician, biologist, physicist, and philosopher. He is credited with the discovery of animal electricity and is considered a pioneer of bioelectromagnetics. He and his wife made one of the first forays into the study of bioelectricity when they discovered that the muscles of dead frogs' legs twitched when struck by an electrical spark.  

 18 
Charles Augustin De Coulomb
(French Physicist Best Known as the Discoverer of Coulomb's Law)
Charles Augustin De Coulomb
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: August 23, 1806

French physicist Charles Augustin De Coulomb, remembered for laying down the Coulomb’s law, had previously been a military engineer in the West Indies. At the onset of the French Revolution, Coulomb, struggling with failing health, devoted himself to research. The unit of electric charge, coulomb, was named after him.

 19 
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
(French Chemist and Physicist Who Discovered That Water is Made of Two Parts Hydrogen and One Part Oxygen)
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, France
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

 20 
Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
3
Birthdate: November 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 29, 1783

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with d'Alembert's formula, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, D'Alembert's Principle.

 21 
Jan Ingenhousz
(Botanist, Physician, Physicist)
Jan Ingenhousz
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Breda
Died: September 7, 1799

The man who discovered photosynthesis, Jan Ingenhousz was born in the Netherlands but later settled in England. He is also remembered for his pioneering research on thermal conduction and the prevention of smallpox and even successfully inoculated the Habsburg family against smallpox. He was also Maria Theresa’s personal doctor.

 22 
Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
4
Birthdate: May 28, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saintes, France
Died: March 26, 1814
 23 
Laura Bassi
(Physicist)
Laura Bassi
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: February 20, 1778

Known as Bolognese Minerva, Laura Bassi became the first woman physics professor to have taught at a European university, when she started teaching at the University of Bologna. A child prodigy, she excelled in Latin and math at age 5. She was also the first lady with a doctorate in science.

 24 
Augustin-Jean Fresnel
3
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Broglie (Eure)
Died: July 14, 1827

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.

 25 
Siméon Denis Poisson
(Mathematician)
Siméon Denis Poisson
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pithiviers, France
Died: April 25, 1840
 26 
Ernst Chladni
(Physicist, Astronomer)
Ernst Chladni
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1756
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Died: April 3, 1827

Ernst Chladni was a German musician and physicist. He is often referred to as the father of acoustics for his research on vibrating plates; he came up with a method to observe and study the various modes of vibration. Ernst Chladni is also considered the father of meteoritics for his significant contribution to the study of meteorites.

 27 
François Arago
(Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher)
François Arago
3
Birthdate: February 26, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Estagel
Died: October 2, 1853

French physicist and mathematician François Arago discovered rotatory magnetism, named Arago's rotations. He is also remembered for his research on the wave theory of light and for the reforms he introduced as the French minister of war and the navy. The Eiffel Tower has his name inscribed on it.

 28 
David Brewster
(Scientist)
David Brewster
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1781
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jedburgh, Scotland
Died: February 10, 1868

David Brewster was a British scientist, inventor, and author. He conducted many experiments in physical optics, especially concerned with the study of the polarization of light. Fellow scientist William Whewell dubbed him the "father of modern experimental optics." He was also a pioneer in photography and invented an improved stereoscope. He wrote numerous works of popular science as well. 

 29 
Joseph Black
(Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher)
Joseph Black
3
Birthdate: April 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 6, 1799

Joseph Black was an 18th-century Scottish physicist and chemist. He is remembered for his discoveries of magnesium, specific heat, latent heat, and carbon dioxide. He spent several years of his career as a professor of medicine and chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In 1783, he became one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 30 
Lazare Carnot
(Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist)
Lazare Carnot
3
Birthdate: May 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nolay
Died: August 2, 1823

Lazare Carnot was a French physicist, mathematician, and politician. His role in the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolutionary Wars earned him the sobriquet Organizer of Victory. Carnot is credited with developing innovative defensive designs for forts, such as the Carnot wall which served as a defensive mechanism against infantry and artillery attack.

 31 
William Whewell
(Economist, Physicist, Historian, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician)
William Whewell
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancaster
Died: March 6, 1866

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He worked in a wide range of fields, publishing works in the disciplines of physics, mechanics, geology, economics, and astronomy. He also wrote poetry, sermons, and theological tracts. He is credited with coining the terms linguistics, physicist, consilience, scientist, catastrophism, and uniformitarianism.

 32 
Joseph von Fraunhofer
(Physicist, Astronomer, Chemist)
Joseph von Fraunhofer
3
Birthdate: March 6, 1787
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Straubing
Died: June 7, 1826

Joseph von Fraunhofer was a Bavarian optical lens manufacturer and physicist. He is credited with developing diffraction grating and inventing the spectroscope. He is also credited with discovering the Fraunhofer lines, the dark absorption lines produced in the spectrum of the sun. The Fraunhofer Society, Europe's biggest Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, is named in his honor.

 33 
Roger Joseph Boscovich
(Physicist, Astronomer, Philosopher and Founder of 'Brera Observatory')
Roger Joseph Boscovich
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Died: February 13, 1787

Italian astronomer and mathematician Roger Joseph Boscovich was one of the first European scientists to accept Newton’s gravitational theory. His contributions to astronomy include the application of geometry to compute the orbit of a planet and the equator of a rotating planet. He also laid the foundation of the atomic theory.

 34 
Benjamin Thompson
(Physicist and Inventor)
Benjamin Thompson
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1753
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Woburn, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 21, 1814
 35 
Johann Heinrich Lambert
(Mathematician who Proved that π is Irrational)
Johann Heinrich Lambert
2
Birthdate: August 26, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mulhouse, France
Died: September 25, 1777

Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss polymath whose contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, map projections, astronomy, and philosophy are considered important by many scholars. He is credited with introducing hyperbolic functions into trigonometry. He is also credited with inventing a hygrometer, which is used to measure the quantity of water vapor in soil and air.

 36 
Nathaniel Bowditch
(Mathematician, Astronomer, Actuary, Physicist, Sailor)
Nathaniel Bowditch
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1773
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salem
Died: March 16, 1838

At 10, Nathaniel Bowditch was forced to quit studies due to poverty and started working, first at his father’s shop and then as a clerk in other shops. During his voyages in merchant ships, he discovered his love for math. He later redefined maritime navigation with his mathematical research.

 37 
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
(Physicist, satirist, and Anglophile)
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
3
Birthdate: July 1, 1742
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ober-Ramstadt, Germany
Died: February 24, 1799
 38 
Claude-Louis Navier
(physicist, economist, mathematician, engineer of roads and bridges)
Claude-Louis Navier
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Burlada
Died: August 21, 1836
 39 
William Hyde Wollaston
(Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Metallurgist)
William Hyde Wollaston
2
Birthdate: August 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Norfolk
Died: December 22, 1828

William Hyde Wollaston was a pioneer of powder metallurgy and the first to develop malleable platinum from its ore. He is also credited with the discoveries of palladium and rhodium. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he dictated his last Bakerian lecture, as he was too ill to deliver it.

 40 
Gabriel Cramer
(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher)
Gabriel Cramer
2
Birthdate: July 31, 1704
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Geneva
Died: January 4, 1752

Born to a doctor, Gabriel Cramer showed an interest in math since childhood. He received his doctoral degree at 18 and was named the co-chair of the University of Geneva at 20. Known for his research on algebraic curves, he is also remembered for devising Cramer’s rule and Cramer’s paradox.

 41 
William Sturgeon
(Physicist, Inventor)
William Sturgeon
2
Birthdate: May 22, 1783
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whittington
Died: December 4, 1850

William Sturgeon was an English physicist and inventor. He invented the first practical English electric motor and made the first electromagnets. A self-taught genius, he became a lecturer at the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey. Along with John Peter Gassiot and Charles Vincent Walker, he was instrumental in founding the London Electrical Society in 1837. 

 42 
Guillaume Amontons
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705
 43 
Jacob Perkins
(American Inventor, Mechanical Engineer and Physicist Known for His Inventing of 'Refrigerator')
Jacob Perkins
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 30, 1849

Known as the father of the refrigerator, American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist Jacob Perkins made several useful mechanical inventions. He created improved nail machines and some of the best steel plates for engraving, invented a bathometer, became the first person in Britain to use a uniflow steam engine, and most notably built the world’s first working vapor-compression refrigeration system.

 44 
Jean-Baptiste Biot
(Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor)
Jean-Baptiste Biot
2
Birthdate: April 21, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 3, 1862

Jean-Baptiste Biot was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. He was a co-discoverer of what became known as the Biot-Savart law of magnetostatics. He is also credited with establishing the reality of meteorites. He made major contributions to the fields of optics and magnetism as well. Cape Biot in eastern Greenland is named in his honor. 

 45 
Thomas Johann Seebeck
1
Birthdate: March 29, 1770
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tallinn
Died: December 10, 1831
 46 
Johan Gadolin
(Finnish Physicist, Chemist, and Mineralogist Who Achieved Popularity for His Description of Yttrium)
Johan Gadolin
1
Birthdate: June 5, 1760
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Turku, Finland
Died: August 15, 1852

Johan Gadolin was a Finnish physicist, chemist, and mineralogist. He achieved popularity for his description of yttrium, the first rare-earth element. Johan Gadolin is also remembered for his service as a professor at the Royal Academy of Turku, where he became one of the first chemists to give laboratory exercises to students.

 47 
Johann Wilhelm Ritter
(Physicist, University teacher)
Johann Wilhelm Ritter
2
Birthdate: December 16, 1776
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Silesia
Died: January 23, 1810
 48 
Francis Hauksbee
(Scientist)
Francis Hauksbee
1
Birthdate: 1660 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: 1713 AD

Francis Hauksbee was an 18th-century English scientist. He is remembered for his work on electricity and electrostatic repulsion. He began his career as a draper and may have run his own drapery. He eventually became Isaac Newton's lab assistant and began his scientific career. With time, he gained a reputation as a talented scientific instrument-maker.

 49 
Ewald Georg von Kleist
(German Inventor, Clergy and Lawyer Who Discovered (1745) the 'Leyden Jar')
Ewald Georg von Kleist
1
Birthdate: June 10, 1700
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wicewo, Poland
Died: December 10, 1748

Ewald Georg von Kleist was an 18th-century German jurist and physicist. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Leipzig and the University of Leyden. He served as the dean of the cathedral at Kamień Pomorski in the Kingdom of Prussia for over two decades, after which he was appointed the president of the royal court of justice in Koszalin.  

 50 
Pieter van Musschenbroek
(Dutch Mathematician and Physicist Who Discovered the Principle of the 'Leyden Jar')
Pieter van Musschenbroek
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1692
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: September 19, 1761

Dutch physicist and mathematician Pieter van Musschenbroek is remembered for introducing the principle of the Leyden jar. He also taught at several universities. Born to an instrument maker, he initially studied medicine but later also focused on philosophy. He made pioneering contributions to tribology.