Famous 19th Century German Scientists

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century German Scientists, including Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Alfred Wegener, Robert Koch and David Hilbert.

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 Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein.
46
Famous As: Physicist
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 Carl F. Gauss

Carl F. Gauss.
7
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.

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 3 Max Planck

Max Planck.
5
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 23, 1858
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kiel
Died: October 4, 1947

German theoretical physicist Max Planck is remembered for originating the quantum theory of physics, which earned him the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics. He laid down concepts such as the Planck constant and the Planck postulate. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was later renamed Max Planck Society in his honor.

 4 Max Born

Max Born.
8
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 11, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 5, 1970
From being home-schooled for being too sickly to attend school, Max Born went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to quantum mechanics. Being a Jew, with the rise of the Nazi power, he lost his professorship at the University of Göttingen, and moved to Cambridge.

 5 Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen.
4
Famous As: Winner of First Nobel Prize in Physics
Birthdate: March 27, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lennep, Rhine Province, Germany
Died: February 10, 1923

Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.

 6 Fritz Haber

Fritz Haber.
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 9, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 29, 1934

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the Haber-Bosch process. The process is used widely to synthesize ammonia from hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas. For his pioneering work in weaponizing poisonous gases like chlorine during World War I, Haber is referred to as the father of chemical warfare.

 7 David Hilbert

David Hilbert.
12
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 23, 1862
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg or Wehlau, Province of Prussia (today Znamensk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia)
Died: February 14, 1943

German mathematician David Hilbert was first drawn to math inspired by his mother, who was a budding math enthusiast. He contributed to a host of concepts, theories, and postulates, such as Hilbert space, Hilbert's program, and Hilbert's problems. He died in oblivion, with a handful of people at his funeral.

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 8 Georg Cantor

Georg Cantor.
11
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: March 3, 1845
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died: January 6, 1918
Georg Cantor is remembered as the man behind the set theory of mathematics. Not known to many, he was a skilled violinist, too. He was one of the first to explore infinity. His final years were riddled with mental ailments, when he believed Shakespeare’s plays were written by Francis Bacon.

 9 Emmy Noether

Emmy Noether.
12
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: March 23, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
Died: April 14, 1935

Emmy Noether was a German mathematician best remembered for her contributions to abstract algebra. She is credited with discovering Noether's theorem, which is regarded as a fundamental theorem in mathematical physics. One of the most important mathematicians of her generation and the most important woman in mathematics history, Emmy Noether developed theories of algebras, fields, and rings.

 10 Heinrich Hertz

Heinrich Hertz.
5
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 22, 1857
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: January 1, 1894

Heinrich Hertz was a German physicist best remembered for proving the existence of electromagnetic waves with conclusive evidence. For his contributions, Hertz has been honored around the world by a number of countries, including Japan, Russia, and Germany. In 1930, the International Electrotechnical Commission established hertz (Hz) as the SI unit for frequency.

 11 William Herschel

William Herschel.
4
Famous As: Astronomer, Composer
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: August 21, 1822

William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry and discovered infrared radiation. Impressed by his work, King George III appointed him the Court Astronomer. Herschel often collaborated with his sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, a fellow astronomer. In 1816, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. 

 12 Bernhard Riemann

Bernhard Riemann.
6
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 17, 1826
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Breselenz
Died: July 20, 1866

Bernhard Riemann was a German mathematician best remembered for his contributions to number theory, analysis, and differential geometry. His paper on the prime-counting function, which was published in 1859, is considered one of the most influential papers in the history of analytic number theory. Riemann is widely regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians ever.

 13 Otto Hahn

Otto Hahn.
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 8, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: July 28, 1968
Nobel Prize-winning German chemist Otto Hahn is remembered for revolutionary discovery of nuclear fission, along with Fritz Strassmann. Born to a glazier, he was pushed to study architecture but chose chemistry instead. He spent his final years grieving the death of his only son in a car accident.

 14 Hermann von Helmholtz

Hermann von Helmholtz.
4
Famous As: Physicist and Physician
Birthdate: August 31, 1821
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Potsdam
Died: September 8, 1894

A descendant of Pennsylvania founder William Penn through his mother, Hermann von Helmholtz studied medicine, pushed by his father, in spite of being interested in the natural sciences. Best known for his law of conservation of energy, he coalesced the fields of medicine, physiology, math, and physics in his studies.

 15 Theodor Schwann

Theodor Schwann.
4
Famous As: Physiologist
Birthdate: December 7, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Neuss, Germany
Died: January 11, 1882

Theodor Schwann was a German physiologist and physician best remembered for his important contributions to biology. He is credited with discovering the Schwann cells, which is named after him. He is also credited with discovering pepsin and the organic nature of yeast. Theodor Schwann also invented the term metabolism.

 16 Gustav Kirchhoff

Gustav Kirchhoff.
4
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 12, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: October 17, 1887

Gustav Kirchhoff was a German physicist who is credited with coining the term black-body radiation. He is best remembered for his contribution to the basic understanding of spectroscopy, electrical circuits, and the emanation of black-body radiation. In 1862, he received the prestigious Rumford Medal. The Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award is named after Gustav Kirchhoff and German chemist Robert Bunsen.

 17 Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi

Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi.
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 10, 1804
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: February 18, 1851

Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi was a German mathematician best remembered for his contributions to differential equations, dynamics, number theory, determinants, and elliptic functions. He is the first Jewish mathematician to work as a professor at a German university. Jacobi has a crater on the Moon named after him in recognition of his contribution to science.

 18 Gottlob Frege

Gottlob Frege
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 8, 1848
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wismar, Germany
Died: July 26, 1925

 19 Robert Bunsen

Robert Bunsen.
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Göttingen
Died: August 16, 1899

Chemist Robert Bunsen paved the path for spectrum analysis with his discovery that every element emits a light of a particular wavelength. He also co-developed and lent his name to the Bunsen burner. He almost died of arsenic poisoning and lost sight in his right eye in a laboratory explosion.

 20 Robert Koch

Robert Koch.
4
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: December 11, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany
Died: May 27, 1910

Robert Koch was a German microbiologist and physician. One of the prominent co-founders of modern bacteriology, Koch is credited with creating and improving laboratory techniques and technologies in the field of microbiology. He is also credited with making important discoveries in public health. In 1905, Robert Koch won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on tuberculosis.

 21 Justus von Liebig

Justus von Liebig
8
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: May 12, 1803
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: April 18, 1873

 22 Karl Weierstrass

Karl Weierstrass.
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 31, 1815
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ennigerloh
Died: February 19, 1897

Karl Weierstrass was a German mathematician best remembered for his significant contributions to mathematics. Often referred to as the father of modern analysis, Weierstrass proved the Bolzano-Weierstrass theorem and the intermediate value theorem. He also authorized the definition of continuous function. The asteroid 14100 Weierstrass and the lunar crater Weierstrass are named after him.

 23 Alfred Wegener

Alfred Wegener.
4
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: November 1, 1880
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: October 31, 1930

In the early 1900s, meteorologist Alfred Wegener did not find too many takers for his theory that all the continents of the world had initially been a single mass named Pangaea and that continental drift had caused them to split apart. Wegener died on his fourth expedition in Greenland.

 24 Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl

Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl.
3
Famous As: Mathematician and Theoretical Physicist
Birthdate: November 9, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Elmshorn, Germany
Died: December 8, 1955

Hermann Klaus Hugo Wey is remembered for his contribution to both physics and math. He was one of the first scientists to think of merging the concepts of electromagnetism and relativity. He moved from the University of Göttingen to Princeton in the wake of the rise of the Nazi reign.

 25 Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Wundt.
5
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 16, 1832
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany
Died: August 31, 1920

Wilhelm Wundt was a German physiologist, professor, and philosopher. He is often counted among the founders of modern psychology and is widely considered the father of experimental psychology. He is also credited with founding the first laboratory for psychological research, which he founded at the University of Leipzig in 1879.

 26 August Kekulé

August Kekulé
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 7, 1829
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: July 13, 1896

 27 Ernst Haeckel

Ernst Haeckel.
4
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: February 6, 1834
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: July 31, 1919

Ernst Haeckel had initially practiced medicine before he gained an interest in Charles Darwin’s theory and began exploring zoology and related fields. He not only coined terms such as ecology, but also named numerous species and created a genealogical tree. He drew numerous figures of animals and sea creatures, too.

 28 Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich.
10
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 14, 1854
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Strzelin, Poland
Died: August 20, 1915

German scientist Paul Ehrlich is remembered for his contribution to immunology, which also won him a Nobel Prize. Known as the pioneer of chemotherapy, he also discovered the first-known treatment of syphilis. Born into a business family, he was introduced to the method of studying cells by his pathologist uncle.

 29 George de Hevesy

George de Hevesy
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: July 5, 1966

 30 Otto Heinrich Warburg

Otto Heinrich Warburg.
5
Famous As: Physiologist & Physician
Birthdate: October 8, 1883
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Freiburg, Baden, German Empire
Died: August 1, 1970

Otto Heinrich Warburg was a German medical doctor and physiologist. In 1931, his discovery of the nature of the respiratory enzyme earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He also played an important role during World War I where he served as an officer in the cavalry regiment; he was honored with the Iron Cross for bravery.

 31 Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 8, 1794
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: March 25, 1867

 32 Oswald Spengler

Oswald Spengler.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blankenburg, Germany
Died: May 8, 1936

German historian Oswald Spengler is best remembered for his iconic The Decline of the West, which had a huge influence on social theory. He believed that culture cannot be transferred and that it can only decline and decay like an organism. He lived his final years in isolation in Munich.

 33 Wilhelm Ostwald

Wilhelm Ostwald.
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 2, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Riga
Died: April 4, 1932

Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German philosopher and chemist who is credited with co-founding the field of physical chemistry. A polymath, Ostwald made significant contributions to philosophy, art, and politics, especially after his retirement from academic life. His contributions to the fields of reaction velocities, chemical equilibria, and catalysis earned him the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 34 Hermann Minkowski

Hermann Minkowski.
3
Birthdate: June 22, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aleksota, Kingdom of Poland
Died: January 12, 1909

Hermann Minkowski was a mathematician who served as a professor at the University of Göttingen, the University of Königsberg, and the University of Zurich. He is credited with creating and developing the geometry of numbers. He is also credited with using geometrical methods to resolve problems in the theory of relativity, mathematical physics, and number theory.

 35 Emanuel Lasker

Emanuel Lasker
9
Famous As: Chess player
Birthdate: December 24, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Barlinek, Poland
Died: January 11, 1941

 36 Friedrich Bessel

Friedrich Bessel
3
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.

 37 Arnold Sommerfeld

Arnold Sommerfeld.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 5, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Königsberg
Died: April 26, 1951

German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld initially taught math and theoretical physics and later came to be known for his groundbreaking work on atomic and quantum physics and wave mechanics. He also laid down the magnetic quantum number. Many of the doctoral and post-doctoral students he supervised later won the Nobel Prize.

 38 Matthias Jakob Schleiden

Matthias Jakob Schleiden
4
Famous As: Biologist, Botanist, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: April 5, 1804
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: June 23, 1881

 39 Karl Schwarzschild

Karl Schwarzschild
3
Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: May 11, 1916

Karl Schwarzschild was a German astronomer and physicist. He is remembered for his contributions to the general theory of relativity; Schwarzschild came up with the first exact solution to the Albert Einstein field equations. He also contributed immensely to the theory of black holes.

 40 Wilhelm Wien

Wilhelm Wien.
3
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: January 13, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gaffken near Fischhausen, Province of Prussia
Died: August 30, 1928

Wilhelm Wien was a German physicist famous for deducing what became known as Wien's displacement law. He is also credited with formulating an expression for the black-body radiation He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1911 for his work on heat radiation.

 41 Kurt Tank

Kurt Tank
3
Famous As: Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Scientist, University teacher, Test pilot
Birthdate: February 24, 1898
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bydgoszcz
Died: June 5, 1983

 42 Johannes Stark

Johannes Stark.
3
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: April 15, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Freihung
Died: June 21, 1957

Johannes Stark was a German physicist who discovered the phenomenon that came to be known as the Stark effect. For this work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1919. A supporter of Adolf Hitler, he was a main figure in the anti-Semitic Deutsche Physik movement. He was found guilty by a denazification court in 1947.

 43 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
4
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 11, 1752
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gotha, Germany
Died: January 22, 1840

A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.

 44 Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner

Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 13, 1780
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hof, Germany
Died: March 24, 1849

 45 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

 46 Otto Stern

Otto Stern.
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 17, 1888
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Żory
Died: August 17, 1969

Otto Stern was a German-American physicist whose discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton and his contribution to the formation of the molecular ray method earned him the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physics. Otto Stern received 82 nominations for a Nobel Prize between 1925 and 1945, making him the second-most nominated person in the history of the Nobel Prize.

 47 Gustav Ludwig Hertz

Gustav Ludwig Hertz.
2
Famous As: Physicists
Birthdate: July 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: October 30, 1975

Gustav Ludwig Hertz was a German experimental physicist best known for his work on inelastic electron collisions in gasses, in collaboration with James Franck. They received the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics. Hertz worked at the University of Berlin and served in the military during World War I. He was a Member of the German Academy of Sciences.

 48 Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet

Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet.
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 13, 1805
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Düren
Died: May 5, 1859

German mathematician Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet is remembered for his invaluable contribution to number theory. He pioneered the concept of a function, expressed through the equation y = f (x). Though his parents wanted him to become a merchant, his mastery of math made them change their minds.

 49 Richard Dedekind

Richard Dedekind.
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 6, 1831
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Braunschweig, Germany
Died: February 12, 1916

German mathematician Richard Dedekind is best remembered for his ideas on the real number and infinity. Initially interested in subjects such as physics and chemistry, he later deviated to math. He taught at various institutes and was awarded honorary doctorates from universities of Zurich, Oslo, and Braunschweig.

 50 Johann Gottfried Galle

Johann Gottfried Galle
2
Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: June 9, 1812
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radis
Died: July 10, 1910

Johann Gottfried Galle was a German astronomer who worked at the Berlin Observatory. On 23 September 1846, he became the first person to view and recognize the planet Neptune. The discovery of Neptune is considered one of the most significant moments of 19th-century science and is widely regarded as a validation of celestial mechanics.