Americans have always been leaders in the world of science and technology. Since achieving independence in the late 18th century America has made tremendous strides in scientific fields, especially in the 20th century. While one of the greatest physicists to have ever lived-- Albert Einstein—was born in Germany, he later shifted to the US where he made several important discoveries. Another prominent European-born physicist who made America his home was Enrico Fermi who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Among the major physicists born in America, J. Robert Oppenheimer was the chairman of the influential General Advisory Committee of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Americans have also played a key role in the development of theoretical physics. Nobel laureate Richard Phillips Feynman made vital contributions to quantum mechanics and particle physics. Science and technology in the United States received a major boost in the post-World War II period, providing dynamic opportunities for emerging physicists to explore. Julian Seymour Schwinger, recognized as one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century performed vital research following the war. Read on to learn more about the life and works of famous American Physicists of the 20th Century.
Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein
14 March 1879
Physicist
Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla
10 July 1856
Inventor, Father of Radio

Richard FeynmanRichard Feynman
11 May 1918
Physicist

Carl SaganCarl Sagan
09 November 1934
Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Writer

J. Robert OppenheimerJ. Robert Oppenheimer
22 April 1904
 

Sally RideSally Ride
26 May 1951
Physicist, Astronaut
Enrico FermiEnrico Fermi
29 September 1901
Nobel Laureate in Physics

Kip ThorneKip Thorne
01 June 1940
Physicist

Edward TellerEdward Teller
15 January 1908
 
Vannevar BushVannevar Bush
11 March 1890
Engineer

Robert H. GoddardRobert H. Goddard
05 October 1882
Physicist
William ShockleyWilliam Shockley
13 February 1910
Physicist

Thomas KuhnThomas Kuhn
18 July 1922
Physicist

Steven ChuSteven Chu
28 February 1948
Former United States Secretary of Energy

John BardeenJohn Bardeen
23 May 1908
Nobel Laureate in Physics

David BohmDavid Bohm
20 December 1917
Scientist
John Archibald WheelerJohn Archibald Wheeler
09 July 1911
Physicist

Murray Gell-MannMurray Gell-Mann
15 September 1929
Physicist

Steven WeinbergSteven Weinberg
03 May 1933
 

Eugene Paul Eugene Wigner
17 November 1902
Physicist & Mathematician
Hans BetheHans Bethe
02 July 1906
Physicist

Luis Walter AlvarezLuis Walter Alvarez
13 June 1911
Physicist
Julian SchwingerJulian Schwinger
12 February 1918
Physicist

Leon M. LedermanLeon M. Lederman
15 July 1922
Physicist

Charles K. KaoCharles K. Kao
04 November 1933
Electrical Engineer
Ernest LawrenceErnest Lawrence
08 August 1901
Physicist

Tsung-Dao LeeTsung-Dao Lee
24 November 1926
Physicist
Franklin DiazFranklin Chang Díaz
05 April 1950
Former NASA Astronaut

Sheldon Lee GlashowSheldon Lee Glashow
05 December 1932
Physicist

Charles Hard TownesCharles H. Townes
28 July 1915
Physicist
Samuel Chao Chung TingSamuel C. C. Ting
07 January 1936
Physicist

Continue Reading Below
Robert HofstadterRobert Hofstadter
05 February 1915
Physicist
Arno Allan PenziasArno Allan Penzias
26 April 1933
Physicists

Robert Woodrow WilsonRobert Woodrow Wilson
10 January 1936
Physicist

Walter GilbertWalter Gilbert
21 March 1932
Biochemist, Physicist, Molecular Biologist

Jack SteinbergerJack Steinberger
25 May 1921
Physicist
Walter Houser BrattainWalter Houser Brattain
10 February 1902
Physicist
Leon N CooperLeon Cooper
28 February 1930
Physicist

Emilio Gino SegrèEmilio Segrè
30 January 1905
Physicist

John Robert SchriefferJohn Robert Schrieffer
31 May 1931
Physicist

Kenneth Geddes WilsonKenneth G. Wilson
08 June 1936
Physicist
Ivar GiaeverIvar Giaever
05 April 1929
Physicist

William Daniel PhillipsWilliam Daniel Phillips
05 November 1948
Physicist

Robert B. LaughlinRobert B. Laughlin
01 November 1950
Physicist

Maria Goeppert MayerMaria Goeppert-Mayer
28 June 1906
Physicist

Edward Mills Purcell Edward Mills Purcell
30 August 1912
Physicist
Nicolaas BloembergenNicolaas Bloembergen
11 March 1920
Physicist

Carl David AndersonCarl David Anderson
03 September 1905
Physicist
Abraham PaisAbraham Pais
19 May 1918
Physicist

Chen Ning YangChen Ning Yang
01 October 1922
Physicist

Arthur Leonard Schawlow Arthur Leonard Schawlow
05 May 1921
Physicist
Daniel Chee TsuiDaniel Chee Tsui
28 February 1939
Physicist

Philip Warren AndersonPhilip Warren Anderson
13 December 1923
Physicist
Frederick ReinesFrederick Reines
16 March 1918
Physicist

Allan McLeod Cormack Allan McLeod Cormack
23 February 1924
Physicist

William Alfred FowlerWilliam Alfred Fowler
09 August 1911
Nuclear Physicist and Astrophysicist

Burton RichterBurton Richter
22 March 1931
Physicist

Edwin Mattison McMillanEdwin McMillan
18 September 1907
Physicist
James CroninJames Cronin
29 September 1931
Physicist

Donald A. GlaserDonald A. Glaser
21 September 1926
Physicist & Molecular Biologist

Willis Eugene Lamb Jr.Willis Lamb
12 July 1913
Physicist

Polykarp Kusch Polykarp Kusch
26 January 1911
Physicist
Ben Roy MottelsonBen Roy Mottelson
09 July 1926
Physicist

Martin Lewis PerlMartin Lewis Perl
24 June 1927
Physicist
Owen ChamberlainOwen Chamberlain
10 July 1920
Physicist

Melvin SchwartzMelvin Schwartz
02 November 1932
Physicist

David Morris LeeDavid Morris Lee
20 January 1931
Physicist
James RainwaterJames Rainwater
09 December 1917
Physicist

Russell Alan HulseRussell Alan Hulse
28 November 1950
Physicist
Douglas D. OsheroffDouglas D. Osheroff
01 August 1945
Physicist

Hans Georg DehmeltHans Georg Dehmelt
09 September 1922
Physicist

Robert Coleman RichardsonRobert Coleman Richardson
26 June 1937
Physicist
Val Logsdon FitchVal Logsdon Fitch
10 March 1923
Physicist

Clifford ShullClifford Shull
23 September 1915
Physicist
Norman Foster Ramsey Jr.Norman Foster Ramsey Jr.
27 August 1915
Physicist

Richard Phillips FeynmanRichard Phillips Feynman
11 May 1918
 

Alicia NashAlicia Nash
01 January 1933
Physicist

John G. TrumpJohn G. Trump
21 August 1907
Scientist
Ronald McNairRonald McNair
21 October 1950
Physicist, Astronaut
Michio KakuMichio Kaku
24 January 1947
Theoretical physicist, Science writer, Popularizer

Freeman DysonFreeman Dyson
15 December 1923
Mathematician

Francis CollinsFrancis Collins
14 April 1950
Geneticist

Bernhard Caesar EinsteinBernhard Caesar Einstein
10 July 1930
Physicist, Engineer
Brian GreeneBrian Greene
09 February 1963
Physicist, Writer, Professor, Author, Actor,

Edward WittenEdward Witten
26 August 1951
Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher,

Ashton CarterAshton Carter
24 September 1954
 

Lawrence M. KraussLawrence M. Krauss
27 May 1954
Astronomer, Physicist, Astrophysicist, Academic,

Sean M. CarrollSean M. Carroll
05 October 1966
Physicist
Max TegmarkMax Tegmark
05 May 1967
Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist

Michael P. AndersonMichael P. Anderson
25 December 1959
Officer, Astronaut, Physicist
Randall MunroeRandall Munroe
17 October 1984
Programmer, Comics artist, Writer, Computer

David D. FriedmanDavid D. Friedman
12 February 1945
Economist, Physicist, Blogger, Writer, University
Vera RubinVera Rubin
23 July 1928
Astronomer
Arpad EloArpad Elo
25 August 1903
Chess player, Physicist, Scientist, University