Famous 19th Century French Scientists

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century French Scientists, including Louis Pasteur, Henri Poincare, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Louis de Broglie and Pierre Curie.
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 1 
Marie Curie
(The First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize)
Marie Curie
39
Birthdate: November 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: July 4, 1934
Amongst the most notable scientists of her time, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the sole person to win two Nobel Prize in two different category, and the first woman professor at the University of Paris—Marie Curie’s list of achievements is incredible. She did extensive research in the field of radioactivity and discovered polonium and radium.
 2 
Louis Pasteur
(Chemist and Microbiologist)
Louis Pasteur
17
Birthdate: December 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dole, France
Died: September 28, 1895
Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  
 3 
Pierre-Simon Laplace
(Mathematician)
Pierre-Simon Laplace
18
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge, France
Died: March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the Newton of France, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

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 4 
Henri Poincare
(French Polymath and Mathematician Known as One of the Founders of the 'Field of Topology')
Henri Poincare
4
Birthdate: April 29, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nancy, France
Died: July 17, 1912
Known as The Last Universalist for his expertise in a variety of domains, French mathematician Henri Poincare conducted research that formed the basis of the modern chaos theory. Apart from his work on relativity and the three-body problem, he also laid the foundation of algebraic topology.
 5 
Évariste Galois
(Mathematician)
Évariste Galois
13
Birthdate: October 25, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bourg-la-Reine, French Empire
Died: May 31, 1832

Évariste Galois was a French mathematician best remembered for solving a 350-year-old problem when he was still in his teens. His work formed the basis for group theory and Galois theory, two important branches of abstract algebra. Also a political activist, Évariste Galois died at the age of 20 after suffering wounds in a duel.

 6 
Joseph Fourier
(Mathematician & Physicist)
Joseph Fourier
8
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.

 7 
Louis de Broglie
(Physicist)
Louis de Broglie
7
Birthdate: August 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dieppe
Died: March 19, 1987

Louis de Broglie was a French aristocrat and physicist who made important contributions to quantum theory. His de Broglie hypothesis, which suggests that all matter has wave properties, is one of the most important features in the theory of quantum mechanics. In 1929, de Broglie was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work.

 8 
Adrien-Marie Legendre
(Mathematician)
Adrien-Marie Legendre
7
Birthdate: September 18, 1752
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 10, 1833

Born into an affluent family, French mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre probably never had to earn a living till the beginning of the French Revolution. Excelling in math and physics, he later contributed to areas such as elliptic functions, developed the least squares method, and lent his name to Legendre polynomials.

 9 
Henri Becquerel
(Physicist, Discoverer of Radioactivity)
Henri Becquerel
8
Birthdate: December 15, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 25, 1908

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Henri Becquerel is known for his chance discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. Born into a family of scientists, Becquerel had been an engineer and a physics professor earlier. Marie Curie, who shared the Nobel with him and her husband, Pierre, was one of his doctoral students.

 10 
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
(Mathematician)
Augustin-Louis Cauchy
4
Birthdate: August 21, 1789
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 23, 1857

French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was initially a military engineer. In his early days, he and his family escaped the Reign of Terror and settled in Arcueil. He was one of the pioneers of mathematical analysis and made significant contributions to subjects such as error theory, calculus, and complex functions.

 11 
Pierre Curie
(Nobel Laureate in Physics)
Pierre Curie
13
Birthdate: May 15, 1859
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 19, 1906

A pioneer in crystallography, radioactivity, piezoelectricity, and magnetism, Pierre Curie was a French physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie. Despite being an atheist, Pierre Curie was fascinated by spiritualism as he believed that spiritual questions deal with physics. 

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
6
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.

 13 
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
(Naturalist and Biologist Best Known for Proposing that Acquired Characteristics can be Inherited.)
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
5
Birthdate: August 1, 1744
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bazentin, France
Died: December 18, 1829

French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the term biology.

 14 
Andre Marie Ampere
6
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. 

 15 
Vilfredo Pareto
(Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher)
Vilfredo Pareto
5
Birthdate: July 15, 1848
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 19, 1923

A qualified civil engineer, Vilfredo Pareto had initially worked for the railways and the ironworks. However, he gradually deviated to philosophy, sociology, and politics and gained fame for his application of math to economic issues and his introduction of Pareto efficiency. Mind and Society remains his best-known work.

 16 
Georges Cuvier
(French Naturalist and Zoologist Known for Establishing the Field of 'Comparative Anatomy' and 'Paleontology')
Georges Cuvier
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Doubs, France
Died: May 13, 1832

Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th century's research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded as the founding father of paleontology.

 17 
Sophie Germain
(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')
Sophie Germain
6
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 
Gustave Le Bon
(Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist)
Gustave Le Bon
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogent-le-Rotrou
Died: December 13, 1931

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work La psychologie des foules, or The Crowd, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

 19 
Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot
(Physicist and Father of Thermodynamics)
Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
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.

 20 
Charles Hermite
(Mathematician)
Charles Hermite
3
Birthdate: December 24, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dieuze
Died: January 14, 1901

Charles Hermite was a French mathematician best remembered for his research on number theory, invariant theory, algebra, elliptic functions, orthogonal polynomials, and quadratic forms. Also an inspiring and influential teacher, Hermite taught Jules Henri Poincaré, who went on to become fa amous mathematician in his own right.

 21 
Claude Bernard
(Physiologist)
Claude Bernard
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1813
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Julien, France
Died: February 10, 1878

Claude Bernard was a French physiologist whose scientific experiments led to several important discoveries. He is credited with coining the phrase milieu intérieur, which refers to the extracellular fluid (ECF) environment. He also pioneered the use of a blinded experiment to eliminate various experimental biases.

 22 
Paul Langevin
(Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer)
Paul Langevin
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 19, 1946

Best known for developing the Langevin dynamics and the Langevin equation, physicist Paul Langevin was also a staunch Communist. Having worked on his doctoral thesis under Pierre Curie, he had formed a connection with Curie’s wife, Marie Curie, which developed into a full-blown love affair after Pierre’s death.

 23 
Alexis Carrel
(Surgeon, Biologist)
Alexis Carrel
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, Rhône, France
Died: November 5, 1944
Nobel Prize-winning French biologist and surgeon Alexis Carrel is remembered for developing a method to suture blood vessels with minimum stitches, to repair them. He also successfully kept tissues alive outside the body for 30 years, in an innovative tissue culture experiment, and worked on organ transplantation.
 24 
Siméon Denis Poisson
(Mathematician)
Siméon Denis Poisson
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pithiviers, France
Died: April 25, 1840
 25 
Charles Lucien Bonaparte
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 29, 1857
 26 
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.

 27 
Prosper Mérimée
(Former writer in the movement of Romanticism, and one of the pioneers of the novella, a short novel or long short story)
Prosper Mérimée
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 23, 1870

Prosper Mérimée was a French writer and one of the pioneers of narrative prose, which came to be known as a novella. A multi-talented personality, Mérimée was also a historian and archaeologist; he played a key role in the development of the process of architectural preservation. He was responsible for safeguarding several historic sites, such as the Cité de Carcassonne. 

 28 
Léon Foucault
(Physicist)
Léon Foucault
3
Birthdate: September 18, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 11, 1868

Léon Foucault was a French physicist remembered for his presentation of the Foucault pendulum. Foucault is credited with measuring the speed of light and discovering eddy currents. He is also credited with coining the term gyroscope. Considered one of the most important physicists from France, Foucault's name is among the 72 names etched on the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

 29 
Jacques Hadamard
(Mathematician)
Jacques Hadamard
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1865
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: October 17, 1963
 30 
Léon Walras
(Economist, University teacher, Mathematician)
Léon Walras
3
Birthdate: December 16, 1834
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Évreux
Died: January 5, 1910

Léon Walras was a French mathematical economist and Georgist. He is known for formulating the marginal theory of value independently of William Stanley Jevons. Considered a pioneer in the development of general equilibrium theory, he authored the book Éléments d'économie politique pure. He is also considered one of the three leaders of the marginalist revolution. 

 31 
Sergei Winogradsky
(Russian Microbiologist and Ecologist Who Pioneered the Concept of the Cycle of Life)
Sergei Winogradsky
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1856
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: February 25, 1953
 32 
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.

 33 
Albert I, Prince of Monaco
(Prince of Monaco (1889 – 1922))
Albert I, Prince of Monaco
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1848
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 26, 1922

Albert I reigned as the Prince of Monaco from 1889 until his death in 1922. He was also an explorer and devoted much of his life to science, exploration, and oceanography. He is also remembered for making reforms on economic, political, and social structures. Albert I, Prince of Monaco was the recipient of several awards, including the Alexander Agassiz Medal.

 34 
Conrad Schlumberger
(Geophysicist)
Conrad Schlumberger
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guebwiller, France
Died: May 9, 1936

Along with his brother, Marcel Schlumberger, Conrad Schlumberger formed one of the most well-known geophysicist duos of Germany. A pioneer in petroleum production, he co-established Schlumberger Ltd., one of the world’s largest oil-field service companies, with Marcel. Their technique of oil exploration offered a cheap alternative than the existing coring methods.

 35 
Urbain Le Verrier
(French Astronomer and Mathematician Best Known for Predicting the Existence and Position of 'Neptune' Using Only Mathematics)
Urbain Le Verrier
4
Birthdate: March 11, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Lô, France
Died: September 23, 1877

French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier revolutionized celestial mechanics by ascertaining the existence of Neptune by mathematical means. Apart from winning the Royal Society of London’s Copley Medal, he had also led the Observatory of Paris as its director. His name remains one of the 72 engraved on the Eiffel Tower.

 36 
Alexandre Yersin
(Discoverer of Yersinia Pestis)
Alexandre Yersin
3
Birthdate: September 22, 1863
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Aubonne, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland
Died: March 1, 1943

Alexandre Yersin was a physician and bacteriologist. He is credited with co-discovering Yersinia pestis, the bacillus that causes the bubonic plague. Also an agriculturist, Yersin pioneered the cultivation of rubber trees. He is revered by the Vietnamese people because of his association with Hanoi Medical University; a private university in Da Lat is named in his honor.

 37 
Henri Lebesgue
(Mathematician)
Henri Lebesgue
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beauvais, France
Died: July 26, 1941
 38 
Joseph Proust
(Chemist)
Joseph Proust
3
Birthdate: September 26, 1754
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: July 5, 1826

Initially training to be an apothecary like his father, Joseph Proust later deviated to pharmacy and then to chemistry. He is best remembered for developing the law of definite proportions, also known as the Proust's law, which states that pure chemical compounds always consist of constant proportions of constituent elements.

 39 
Étienne-Jules Marey
(French Scientist Who is Widely Considered to be a Pioneer of Photography)
Étienne-Jules Marey
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1830
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Beaune, France
Died: May 15, 1904

Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist, chronophotographer, and physiologist. He is best remembered for his work which played a major role in the development of physical instrumentation, cardiology, cinematography, aviation, and the science of laboratory photography. Étienne-Jules Marey is widely regarded as a pioneer of photography.

 40 
Camille Flammarion
(Former Astronomer author who published the magazine L'Astronomie, starting in 1882)
Camille Flammarion
3
Birthdate: February 26, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Val-de-Meuse, France
Died: June 3, 1925

French astronomer Camille Flammarion began his career as a human computer at the Paris Observatory at 16. He believed intelligent beings from Mars had tried to communicate with people on Earth in the past. He also published L'Astronomie and penned sci-fi novels such as Omega: The Last Days of the World.

 41 
Louis Bachelier
(Mathematician, Economist, Non-fiction writer)
Louis Bachelier
3
Birthdate: March 11, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Havre
Died: April 26, 1946

French mathematician Louis Bachelier was said to be the first to chart a mathematical model for what is now called the Brownian motion. After losing his wine merchant father early in life, he took over the reins of his family business, but he gradually became a pioneer in mathematical finance.

 42 
Gaspard Monge
(Mathematician)
Gaspard Monge
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1746
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaune, France
Died: July 28, 1818
 43 
Pierre-André Latreille
3
Birthdate: November 29, 1762
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
Died: February 6, 1833
 44 
Waldemar Haffkine
(Bacteriologists)
Waldemar Haffkine
0
Birthdate: March 15, 1860
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Odesa, Ukraine
Died: October 26, 1930
 45 
Jean-Henri Fabre
(Entomologist)
Jean-Henri Fabre
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1823
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Leons, France
Died: October 11, 1915
 46 
Serge Voronoff
(Surgeon, Immunologist, Gynaecologist)
Serge Voronoff
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1866
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Voronezh
Died: September 3, 1951

Russian-French surgeon Serge Voronoff, or the Monkey Gland Man, stunned everyone by implanting monkey testicles in his patients to cure impotence. He had apparently also injected himself with dog and guinea pig testicle extracts. Unfortunately, the scientific community dismissed his claims as simply the result of placebo effect.

 47 
Camille Jordan
(Mathematician, Engineer, Professor)
Camille Jordan
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1838
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon
Died: January 22, 1922

Camille Jordan was a French mathematician best remembered for his influential Cours d'analyse and his foundational work in group theory. He also served as an educator, teaching at prestigious institutions like the Collège de France and École Polytechnique. The asteroid 25593 Camillejordan is named in his honor.

Michel Eugène Chevreul
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1786
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: April 9, 1889

Born into a family of surgeons, chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul naturally found an interest in science in his early days. His initial work involved separating colored substances from plant tissue and fats from animal tissue. His discoveries revolutionized color painting and also boosted the soap and candle industries.

 49 
Émile Borel
(Former mathematician, he was known for his founding work in the areas of measure theory and probability)
Émile Borel
4
Birthdate: January 7, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint-Affrique, France
Died: February 3, 1956
Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1758
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: February 10, 1836

At 13, Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier had married lawyer and chemist Antoine Lavoisier. Her mastery of English helped her assist her husband communicate with his collaborators. She also illustrated her husband’s books and eventually negotiated with Joseph Priestley, on his behalf, over the naming of oxygen, which Priestley had discovered.