Famous 19th Century American Scientists

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 1 Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
62
Famous As: Developer of Theory of Relativity
Birthdate: March 14, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ulm, Germany
Died: April 18, 1955
Deemed as the most influential physicist of the 20th century, the German-born physicist Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds to have ever lived. Even his name is now synonymous with the term genius. The father of Modern Physics is credited with developing the theory of relativity and explaining the photoelectric effect. The latter won him the Nobel Prize.

 2 George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver
32
Famous As: Agricultural scientist
Birthdate: December 31, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Diamond, Missouri, United States
Died: January 5, 1943
Agricultural scientist George Washington Carver is best remembered for promoting crops that were alternative to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes. He invented ways to prevent soil depletion and developed scores of products made from peanuts, including paints and cosmetics. He won numerous honors, such as the Spingarn Medal.

 3 Edwin Powell Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble
7
Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: November 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marshfield, Missouri, USA
Died: September 28, 1953

While the Hubble Telescope, named after Edwin Powell Hubble, reminds one of his contribution to astronomy, he failed to get a Nobel Prize, as back in his time, the Nobel Committee didn’t recognize astrophysics as a valid science. He is best remembered for his work on galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

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 4 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
27
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer & Futurist, Who Obtained Over 300 Patents
Birthdate: July 10, 1856
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smiljan, Croatia
Died: January 7, 1943

Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.

 5 Thomas Hunt Morgan

Thomas Hunt Morgan
4
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: September 25, 1866
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lexington
Died: December 4, 1945

Thomas Hunt Morgan was an evolutionary biologist, geneticist, and embryologist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1933. He worked extensively on the role that the chromosome plays in heredity and demonstrated that genes are carried on chromosomes. In his later career, he established the division of biology at the California Institute of Technology. 

 6 Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz
8
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: May 28, 1807
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montier
Died: December 14, 1873

Louis Agassiz was a biologist and geologist. He was famous as a scholar of Earth's natural history. Born in Switzerland, he completed his education in Europe and emigrated to USA. He was appointed a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. He later founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology at the Lawrence Scientific School.  

 7 John Muir

John Muir
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 21, 1838
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dunbar
Died: December 24, 1914

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, botanist, zoologist, and author. Nicknamed Father of the National Parks and John of the Mountains, Muir was an influential proponent of the preservation of wilderness in the US. He is credited with co-founding the American conservation organization, The Sierra Club. Muir is considered a hero by many environmentalists around the world.

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 8 Karl Landsteiner

Karl Landsteiner
19
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: June 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: June 26, 1943

Karl Landsteiner was a physician, biologist, and immunologist. He is credited with distinguishing the main blood groups as well as identifying the Rhesus factor. He is also credited with discovering the polio virus along with Erwin Popper and Constantin Levaditi. He won the Aronson Prize in 1926. In 1930, Landsteiner was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

 9 Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 11, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dover
Died: April 13, 1941

After studying physics and astronomy at Wellesley College, Annie Jump Cannon traveled across Europe and focused on photography for a decade, before venturing to study astronomy again. At the Harvard Observatory, she made a considerable contribution to the classification of stellar bodies. She was almost deaf due to scarlet fever.

 10 John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg
4
Famous As: Doctor, Inventor
Birthdate: February 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tyrone Township, Michigan, United States
Died: December 14, 1943
Physician, nutritionist, and businessman John Harvey Kellogg served as the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was a combination of a European spa, a hydrotherapy center, a hospital, and a hotel. He believed in biologic living. However, he is best remembered as the inventor of corn flakes.

 11 Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer
4
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: September 4, 1848
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chelsea, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 11, 1928
Lewis Howard Latimer was born to former slaves and went on to become a skilled patent draftsman. He had worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the patent of his telephone, and with the Edison Electric Light Company. He had also invented a modification of the process of making carbon filaments. 

 12 Arthur Compton

Arthur Compton
3
Famous As: Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: September 10, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wooster, Ohio, USA
Died: March 15, 1962

American physicist Arthur Compton is best-known for introducing Compton wavelength, discovering Compton scattering, first identifying the Compton–Getting effect in the intensity of cosmic rays along with Ivan A. Getting, and for the Compton generator. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for discovering Compton effect. He also remained a prominent figure during the Manhattan Project.

 13 Josiah Willard Gibbs

Josiah Willard Gibbs
5
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: February 11, 1839
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 28, 1903

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist best remembered for making major theoretical contributions to mathematics, physics, and chemistry. As a mathematician, Gibbs is credited with inventing modern vector calculus. In 1901, he was honored with the prestigious Copley Medal for his contributions. Josiah Willard Gibbs's work had a major influence on physicists like J. D. van der Waals.

 14 Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt
6
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 19, 1814
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 10, 1862

 15 Robert H. Goddard

Robert H. Goddard
4
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 5, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 10, 1945

The son of a machine shop owner, Robert H. Goddard grew up to become a pioneer of rocketry. Interested in physics and mechanics since childhood, he dreamed of space flight. He developed the world’s first rocket that ran on liquid fuel. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is named after him.

 16 Nettie Stevens

Nettie Stevens
5
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: July 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cavendish, Vermont, United States
Died: May 4, 1912

Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She is credited with discovering sex chromosomes which later came to be known as the X and Y chromosomes. In 1994, Nettie Stevens was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 17 Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce
6
Famous As: Scientist, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 10, 1839
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 19, 1914

 18 John Pemberton

John Pemberton
7
Famous As: Pharmacist
Birthdate: July 8, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Knoxville, Georgia, United States
Died: August 16, 1888

John Pemberton was an American pharmacist best remembered for his invention of Coca-Cola. A Confederate States Army veteran, Pemberton suffered from a wound sustained during the Battle of Columbus. The injury led him to experiment with different kinds of toxins and painkillers, which in turn helped him invent the recipe to make Coca-Cola.

 19 Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Burlington
Died: April 21, 1948

 20 Norbert Wiener

Norbert Wiener
6
Famous As: Father of Cybernetics
Birthdate: November 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Columbia, Missouri, United States
Died: March 18, 1964

 21 C. W. Post

C. W. Post
6
Famous As: Nutritionist
Birthdate: October 26, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois, United States
Died: May 9, 1914

 22 Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead
9
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: February 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ramsgate, Kent, England
Died: December 30, 1947

Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for his collaboration with his student Bertrand Russell on Principal of Mathematics, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics. Also known for his pioneering works on process philosophy and metaphysics, he is credited with developing a comprehensive metaphysical system that differs from most Western philosophies.

 23 Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear
4
Famous As: Inventor of Vulcanized Rubber
Birthdate: December 29, 1800
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: July 1, 1860

Charles Goodyear was an American manufacturing engineer and self-taught chemist who developed vulcanized rubber. He invented the chemical process to manufacture pliable, moldable, and waterproof rubber which revolutionized the automobile industry. In 1976, Charles Goodyear was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 24 Peter Debye

Peter Debye
3
Famous As: American-Dutch chemist
Birthdate: March 24, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Maastricht
Died: November 2, 1966

 25 Robert Andrews Millikan

Robert Andrews Millikan
4
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 22, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Morrison
Died: December 19, 1953

Nobel Prize-winning experimental physicist Robert Andrews Millikan had begun his career as a faculty member at the University of Chicago and penned countless physics books. He later devoted himself to his research on elementary electronic charge and the photoelectric effect. His famous oil-drop experiment is known to all physics enthusiasts.

 26 Gifford Pinchot

Gifford Pinchot
6
Famous As: Forestry scientist
Birthdate: August 11, 1865
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Simsbury, Connecticut, United States
Died: October 4, 1946

 27 Walter Reed

Walter Reed
6
Famous As: Military physician, Zoologist, Entomologist
Birthdate: September 13, 1851
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Belroi
Died: November 22, 1902

 28 Auguste Piccard

Auguste Piccard
5
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 28, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: January 28, 1963

Swiss-born Belgian physicist Auguste Piccard is best remembered for his research on the Earth’s upper stratosphere. He designed his own ships to explore the depth of the seas and also built balloons to study cosmic rays. His bathyscaphe remains one of his best-known inventions. He also co-discovered the magnetocaloric effect.

 29 Henrietta Swan Leavitt

Henrietta Swan Leavitt
4
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 4, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lancaster, Massachusetts
Died: December 12, 1921

Born to a church minister, Henrietta Swan Leavitt grew up to work as a “human computer” at the Harvard Observatory. The American astronomer gained fame for discovering the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables. However, her brilliant scientific career was halted by her death due to stomach cancer at 53.

 30 Thomas J. Watson

Thomas J. Watson
4
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 17, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Campbell, New York, United States
Died: June 19, 1956

 31 Leo Baekeland

Leo Baekeland
3
Famous As: Chemist & Inventor
Birthdate: November 14, 1863
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium
Died: February 23, 1944

Industrial chemist Leo Baekeland is remembered as The Father of the Plastics Industry for creating Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic of the world, thus marking the beginning of the Polymer Age. His many inventions include Velox, a special photographic paper, the rights of which he sold to George Eastman.

 32 Leó Szilárd

Leó Szilárd
6
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 11, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: May 30, 1964

Physicist Leó Szilárd, one of the "Martians," or eminent scientists who had migrated from Hungary to the U.S., was the first to initiate a controlled nuclear chain reaction and was closely associated with the Manhattan Project, meant to develop the atomic bomb. He later advocated for responsible use of nuclear powers.

 33 John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell
5
Famous As: Explorer, Geologist
Birthdate: March 24, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mount Morris
Died: September 23, 1902

John Wesley Powell was a geologist and explorer of the American West. He undertook a series of adventures as a young man and later joined the military. He is best known for the three-month-long geographic expedition he undertook down the Green and Colorado rivers. He was made the director of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1881.  

 34 Williamina Fleming

Williamina Fleming
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: May 15, 1857
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: May 21, 1911

Born in Scotland, Williamina Fleming moved to the U.S. with her husband, where she began working as a housekeeper for Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering. Pickering secured her a job at the observatory, and Fleming went on to establish a classification and cataloguing system for stars.

 35 Percival Lowell

Percival Lowell
5
Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician
Birthdate: March 13, 1855
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston
Died: November 12, 1916

Born into the famous Brahmin Lowell family of Massachusetts, Percival Lowell studied at Harvard, where he excelled in math. He managed a cotton mill and also spent time in Asia as a diplomat. He is best remembered for initiating the discovery of Pluto and for studying the canals on Mars.

 36 Matthew Fontaine Maury

Matthew Fontaine Maury
5
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 14, 1806
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Spotsylvania County, Virginia, United States
Died: February 1, 1873

American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.

 37 Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ananda Coomaraswamy
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 22, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Died: September 9, 1947

Ananda Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese Tamil philosopher of Indian art, metaphysician, and pioneering historian. He is credited for being one of the earliest interpreters of Indian culture to the West. He is also held responsible for introducing ancient Indian art to the West. Apart from bridging the gap between East and West, Coomaraswamy's works also aimed at rehabilitating original Buddhism.

 38 Gilbert N. Lewis

Gilbert N. Lewis
3
Famous As: Physical chemist
Birthdate: October 23, 1875
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Weymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 23, 1946

 39 Albert A. Michelson

Albert A. Michelson
4
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 19, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Strzelno, Poland
Died: May 9, 1931

 40 Robert Stroud

Robert Stroud
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: November 21, 1963

 41 Luther Burbank

Luther Burbank
6
Famous As: Horticulturist, Geneticist, Botanist, Gardener, Academic, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: March 7, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Rosa
Died: April 11, 1926

Luther Burbank was an American horticulturist and botanist. A pioneer in agricultural science, Luther Burbank developed over 800 varieties of plants and strains in an illustrious career that spanned 55 years. He is also credited with developing a spineless cactus that served as cattle feed. In 1986, Luther Burbank was made an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 42 Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Charles Proteus Steinmetz
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Electrical engineer, Engineer, Scientist, Inventor
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: October 26, 1923

 43 Gerty Cori

Gerty Cori
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 15, 1896
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: October 26, 1957

Austro-Hungarian-American biochemist Gerty Cori is best-known for discovering the course of catalytic conversion of glycogen with her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori for which they jointly won the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. With this Gerty became the third woman to win a Nobel in science and the first to win it in this category.

 44 Albert Szent-Györgyi

Albert Szent-Györgyi
3
Famous As: Physiologist
Birthdate: September 16, 1893
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: October 22, 1986

Born in Budapest, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi shot himself in the arm while serving in World War II, so that he could be sent back home, and then studied medicine. While he is remembered for first isolating vitamin C, unknown to many, he was also a skilled pianist.

 45 David Herold

David Herold
3
Famous As: Pharmacist's assistant
Birthdate: June 16, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Maryland, United States
Died: July 7, 1865

 46 Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: August 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nantucket
Died: June 28, 1889
Maria Mitchell was motivated by her amateur astronomer father to venture into astronomy, and he taught her to operate several astronomical instruments. She later grew up to be America’s first professional female astronomer and is best remembered for discovering the comet 1847 VI, also known as Miss Mitchell's Comet.

 47 Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin

Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 9, 1858
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Serbia
Died: March 12, 1935

Physicist Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin developed what is now known as pupinization, a mechanism which extended the range of long-distance telephonic communication with the use of loading coils. Born to illiterate parents, he was a Serbian immigrant in the U.S. and later wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, From Immigrant to Inventor.

 48 Charles Pfizer

Charles Pfizer
5
Famous As: Chemist, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: March 22, 1824
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany
Died: October 19, 1906

 49 George Ellery Hale

George Ellery Hale
2
Famous As: Astronomer, Journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: February 21, 1938

George Ellery Hale was an American solar astronomer. He discovered magnetic fields in sunspots, a discovery that gained him international fame. He played key roles in the planning or construction of several world-leading telescopes, including the 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory. He was a major figure in the foundation of the International Union for Cooperation in Solar Research. 

 

 50 George Pólya

George Pólya
3
Famous As: Mathematician and University teacher
Birthdate: December 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 7, 1985

Known as the father of problem solving in math, mathematician George Pólya taught at ETH Zürich and Stanford, and was one of The Martians who moved from Hungary to the US. His book How to Solve It became widely popular with students of math. Three prizes were later named after him.