Famous 18th Century Physicists

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Physicists, including Michael Faraday, Leonhard Euler, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Hans Christian Ørsted and Alessandro Volta.

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 Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday
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Famous As: Physicist & Chemist
Birthdate: September 22, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newington Butts
Died: August 25, 1867

Michael Faraday was an English scientist known for his contribution to the study of electrochemistry and electromagnetism. Considered one of the most influential scientists ever, Faraday's inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices established the basis for electric motor technology. His research also helped understand the concept of the electromagnetic field. Ernest Rutherford called him one of the greatest scientific discoverers ever.

 2 Carl F. Gauss

Carl F. Gauss
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
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.

 3 Count Alessandro Volta

Count Alessandro Volta
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Famous As: Physicist, Chemist
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.
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 4 Georg Ohm

Georg Ohm
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Famous As: Physicist & Mathematician
Birthdate: March 16, 1789
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Erlangen, Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Died: July 6, 1854

Georg Ohm was a German mathematician and physicist. He is credited with discovering the proportionality between the voltage applied through a conductor and the subsequent electric current, which came to be known as Ohm's law. His work earned him the prestigious Copley Medal in 1841. A prolific writer, Georg Ohm published several papers and pamphlets throughout his career.

 5 Thomas Young

Thomas Young
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Famous As: Physician
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

Leonhard Euler
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
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 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
3
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor
Birthdate: May 24, 1686
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gdańsk
Died: September 16, 1736
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 8 Anders Celsius

Anders Celsius
4
Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician
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.

 9 John Dalton

John Dalton
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Meteorologist
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. 

 10 Amedeo Avogadro

Amedeo Avogadro
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Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
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 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere
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Famous As: Physicist
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. 

 12 Daniel Bernoulli

Daniel Bernoulli
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Famous As: Mathematician
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

Joseph Fourier
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Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
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 Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: October 10, 1731
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nice
Died: February 24, 1810

English natural philosopher, scientist, and a prominent experimental and theoretical physicist and chemist Henry Cavendish is best-remembered for his discovery of hydrogen and his Cavendish experiment. He first recognized that hydrogen, which he termed inflammable air, is a discrete substance which produces water on combustion. He conducted the Cavendish experiment to measure and produce a value for Earth’s density.

 15 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
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Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
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.

 16 Hans Christian Ørsted

Hans Christian Ørsted
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Famous As: Physicist
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.

 17 Sophie Germain

Sophie Germain
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Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 18 Luigi Galvani

Luigi Galvani
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Famous As: Anatomist, Physicist, Physician, University teacher
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.  

 19 Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Charles Augustin De Coulomb
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Famous As: French physicist
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.

 20 Eva Ekeblad

Eva Ekeblad
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: July 10, 1724
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: May 15, 1786

 21 Sadi Carnot

Sadi Carnot
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Famous As: Physicist and Scientist
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Luxembourg Palace
Died: August 24, 1832

Son of French Revolutionary leader and mathematician Lazare Carnot, Sadi Carnot was an engineer in the French army. He later laid down the Carnot cycle of heat engines. Much of his works were buried with him when he died of cholera at 36, due to the contagiousness of the disease.

 22 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
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Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat
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.

 23 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
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.

 24 Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 28, 1738
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saintes, France
Died: March 26, 1814

 25 Jan Ingenhousz

Jan Ingenhousz
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Famous As: Botanist, Physician, Physicist
Birthdate: December 8, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Breda
Died: September 7, 1799

 26 Siméon Denis Poisson

Siméon Denis Poisson
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Loiret, France
Died: April 25, 1840

 27 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel
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Famous As: Physicist
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.

 28 Ernst Chladni

Ernst Chladni
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer
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.

 29 David Brewster

David Brewster
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Famous As: Scientist
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. 

 30 Joseph Black

Joseph Black
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher
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. 

 31 François Arago

François Arago
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Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher
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.

 32 William Whewell

William Whewell
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Famous As: Economist, Physicist, Historian, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician
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.

 33 Joseph von Fraunhofer

Joseph von Fraunhofer
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Chemist
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.

 34 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
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Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist
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.

 35 Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich
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Famous As: Physicist
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.

 36 Benjamin Thompson

Benjamin Thompson
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Famous As: Physicist, Scientist
Birthdate: March 26, 1753
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Woburn
Died: August 25, 1814

 37 Johann Heinrich Lambert

Johann Heinrich Lambert
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Polymath
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.

 38 George Green

George Green
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: July 14, 1793
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, England
Died: May 31, 1841

With one year of formal schooling, George Green was entirely self-taught until the age of forty, when he entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. By then, he had published his first book, propagating what are now known as Green’s theorem and Green’s functions. A fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, he also established Green's identities, Green's law, and Green's matrix.

 39 Nathaniel Bowditch

Nathaniel Bowditch
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Astronomer, Actuary, Physicist, Sailor
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.

 40 Friedrich Bessel

Friedrich Bessel
2
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 22, 1784
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minden, Germany
Died: March 17, 1846

Friedrich Bessel was a German mathematician, astronomer, geodesist, and physicist. He was the first astronomer to use the method of parallax in order to determine the distance of a star from the sun. Bessel was a much-respected figure during his time. He was honored with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

 41 Claude-Louis Navier

Claude-Louis Navier
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Famous As: physicist, economist, mathematician, engineer of roads and bridges
Birthdate: February 10, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Burlada
Died: August 21, 1836

 42 William Hyde Wollaston

William Hyde Wollaston
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Metallurgist
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.

 43 Pierre Louis Maupertuis

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 28, 1698
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 27, 1759

Pierre Louis Maupertuis was a French mathematician and man of letters. He is credited with having invented the principle of least action; his version is known as Maupertuis's principle. He was also a philosopher and his work in natural history touched upon a range of topics. He was the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science. 

 44 Gabriel Cramer

Gabriel Cramer
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 31, 1704
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Geneva
Died: January 4, 1752

 45 Guillaume Amontons

Guillaume Amontons
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705

 46 Jean-Baptiste Biot

Jean-Baptiste Biot
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor
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. 

 47 William Sturgeon

William Sturgeon
2
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor
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. 

 48 Jacob Perkins

Jacob Perkins
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Famous As: Inventor
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.

 49 Thomas Johann Seebeck

Thomas Johann Seebeck
1
Famous As: physicist
Birthdate: March 29, 1770
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tallinn
Died: December 10, 1831

 50 Johann Wilhelm Ritter

Johann Wilhelm Ritter
2
Famous As: Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: December 16, 1776
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Silesia
Died: January 23, 1810