Famous British Scientists

Science has been a driving force behind the evolution of the modern world. The hard work and dedication of scientists have led to the evolution of sophisticated automobiles and better medical facilities. Scientists belonging to countries like Britain have made immense contributions in the fields of physics and biology. Charles Darwin is one such genius belonging to the nation who proposed the famous theory which tried to explore the reasons behind the birth and evolution of living organisms. British physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton revolutionized the field of science through his incredible discoveries such as the ‘Newton’s Laws of Motion’ and others. Compiling a list of British scientists and their contributions towards science would seem to be never ending. J.J Thompson, Michael Faraday, Malcolm Brenner and Ralph Benjamin are a few other prominent scientists produced by the country. Some of the discoveries and inventions of these scientists have even inspired many people to embrace science as a career. Many British scientists have been honored on quite a few occasions for their splendid work. We present to you a collection of biographies of popular scientists belonging to Britain. Discover their life stories, and interesting trivia & facts related to their lives in this section.

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 Alan Turing

Alan Turing
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maida Vale
Died: June 7, 1954

Regarded as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing was a distinguished mathematician and logician. During WWII, he successfully broke the challenging German Enigma machine codes thereby reducing the duration of war by a couple of years. The scientist, who was convicted for being gay, has been an inspiration for numerous films, plays and novels.

 2 Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking
Famous As: Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who despite being afflicted motor neurone disease that severely limited his physical abilities, was able to build a phenomenally successful career. He was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking was ranked 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, in 2002.

 3 Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 4, 1643
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: March 31, 1727

One of the most influential and popular scientists of all time, Sir Isaac Newton played a prominent role in our understanding of natural phenomena. He formulated the law of universal gravitation and laws of motion. He also developed the Newtonian telescope among other devices. Apart from science, Newton was also intrigued by religion, occult, and alchemy.

 4 Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday
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.

 5 Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll
Famous As: Novelist, Mathematician & Photographer
Birthdate: January 27, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daresbury, Cheshire, England
Died: January 14, 1898
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, is remembered for his iconic children’s fiction such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He explored the genre of literary nonsense with his poems such as Jabberwocky. He was also a photographer, a mathematician, and an inventor.

 6 John Dalton

John Dalton
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. 

 7 Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage
Famous As: Father of the computer
Birthdate: December 26, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: October 18, 1871
Charles Babbage, or the “father of the computer,” invented the prototype of the world’s first mechanical calculator, the Difference Engine. With the help of mathematician Ada Lovelace, he also created the Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose computer and a precursor of the modern computer, with its looping and sequential mechanism.
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 8 Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 8, 1931
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Colchester, England

Roger Penrose’s contribution to the research related to the black hole and general relativity earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020. The Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford, Roger is also a fellow of Wadham College, St John's College of Cambridge, and University College London.

 9 Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 

 10 James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: June 13, 1831
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 5, 1879

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist known for co-developing the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution with Ludwig Boltzmann. He made tremendous contributions to the field of mathematical physics and formulated the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation. He is also regarded as a founder of the modern field of electrical engineering. He received the Royal Society's Rumford Medal in 1860.  

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 11 Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Crowthorne, England
Died: February 28, 2020

Freeman Dyson was a British-American theoretical and mathematical physicist, mathematician, and statistician. He made major contributions in the fields of quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics. He originated the concept that went on to be known as Dyson's transform. He received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1986. 

 12 Paul Dirac

Paul Dirac
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 8, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bristol
Died: October 20, 1984
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 13 J. J. Thomson

J J Thompson
Famous As: Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: December 18, 1856
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester, Lancashire, UK
Died: August 30, 1940

J. J. Thomson was a British physicist credited with the discovery of the electron, the first subatomic particle to be discovered. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906 for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases. In 1884, he was appointed Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge. 

 14 Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 28, 1635
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: March 3, 1703

Scientist Robert Hooke, also called England's Leonardo, initially gained recognition as an architect, conducting surveys following the Great Fire of London. He also taught geometry and was part of the Royal Society. He assisted Robert Boyle and eventually developed his own microscope, thus becoming the first to visualize micro-organisms.

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 15 Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: February 12, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Mount House, Shrewsbury, England, United Kingdom
Died: April 19, 1882

Widely regarded as one of the most influential personalities in the history of mankind, Charles Darwin was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. He is credited with publishing the Theory of Evolution, which explains the evolution of life from a unicellular organism to human beings. A prolific writer, Charles Darwin also wrote important books on plants and barnacles.

 16 Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace
Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Geographer, Anthropologist and Biologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanbadoc
Died: November 7, 1913
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 17 Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins
Famous As: Evolutionary Biologist
Birthdate: March 26, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, author, and evolutionary biologist. He first achieved popularity after publishing his book, The Selfish Gene, which is credited with popularizing the gene selection theory. The book is also credited with introducing the term meme. In 2006, he established the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to promote secularism and scientific literacy.

 18 John Horton Conway

John Horton Conway
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: December 26, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: April 11, 2020

Remembered as versatile mathematician, game wizard and polymath, John Horton Conway had limitless curiosity, which matched with his scientific originality. Although he is best known for devising the cellular automation called Game of Life, he made significant contributions to group theory, number theory, algebra, geometric topology, theoretical physics, combinatorial game theory and geometry. Conway published many outstanding papers in these fields.

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 19 Lord Kelvin

Lord Kelvin
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: June 26, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast
Died: December 17, 1907

Lord Kelvin was a British mathematical physicist and engineer. He studied at the Glasgow University and proceeded to teach there as well. Besides his academic career, he also had a career as an electric telegraph engineer and inventor. He received the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1883. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honor.

 20 Bill Oddie

Bill Oddie
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rochdale, Lancashire, England, UK
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 21 Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 29, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Peter Higgs is a British theoretical physicist. He studied at King's College London and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1954. He went on to have a brilliant academic career and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983. In 2013, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Belgian physicist François Englert.  

 22 Francis Crick

Francis Crick
Famous As: Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Died: July 28, 2004
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 23 James Chadwick

James Chadwick
Famous As: Discoverer of Neutron
Birthdate: October 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bollington
Died: July 24, 1974

Best remembered as a Nobel laureate who discovered neutron, Sir James Chadwick began his career at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he worked with Ernest Rutherford to investigate the nature of atomic nucleus, a work that led to the epoch-making discovery. Credited with writing the final draft of the MAUD Report, he also headed the British team at the Manhattan Project

 24 Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 23, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Weymouth, Dorset
Died: August 10, 1915

Henry Moseley was an English physicist best known for his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra. He made major contributions to the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and quantum physics. He was working at the University of Oxford when World War I broke out, following which he went to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army. 

 25 Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars. She graduated from the University of Glasgow and pursued an academic career. In 2018, she received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of radio pulsars. She donated the three million dollars she received as prize money.  

 26 Henry Cavendish

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

Stamford Raffles
Famous As: Former Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Birthdate: July 6, 1781
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Morant, Jamaica
Died: July 5, 1826

Stamford Raffles was a British statesman who served as the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies from 1811 to 1816. From 1818 to 1824, he served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen. Raffles is best remembered for founding the Straits Settlements and modern Singapore. He also played a major role in the invasion of Java in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars.

 28 James Prescott Joule

James Prescott Joule
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: December 24, 1818
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Salford, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: October 11, 1889

English physicist, and mathematician, James Prescott Joule primarily worked on the nature of heat, in course of which he established that all forms of energy are fundamentally same and therefore inter-convertible. His findings resulted in the development of the first law of thermodynamics and negation of calorie theory. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him.

 29 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buckinghamshire
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

 30 Thomas Young

Thomas Young
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.

 31 Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren
Famous As: Architect
Birthdate: October 20, 1632
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Knoyle
Died: February 25, 1723

 32 Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: May 4, 1825
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ealing, Middlesex
Died: June 29, 1895

 33 Andrew Wiles

Andrew Wiles
Famous As: Mathematician, University teacher
Birthdate: April 11, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cambridge

 34 Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 13, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rendcomb
Died: November 19, 2013

 35 Michael Atiyah

Michael Atiyah
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 22, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 11, 2019

 36 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild

Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
Famous As: Biologist, Banker, Politician, Zoologist, Ornithologist, Entomologist, Lepidopterist
Birthdate: February 8, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England
Died: August 27, 1937

 37 Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 8, 1656
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haggerston, Shoreditch, London, England
Died: January 14, 1742

 38 Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo
Died: July 29, 1994

 39 Andre Geim

Andre Geim
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia

Andre Geim is a Russian-born Dutch-British physicist. He has been associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester for several years. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov in recognition of his work on graphene. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics. 

 40 Martin Rees

Martin Rees
Famous As: Cosmologist
Birthdate: June 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: York, United Kingdom

 41 Robert Watson-Watt

Robert Watson-Watt
Famous As: Developer
Birthdate: April 13, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brechin, Scotland
Died: December 5, 1973

 42 John Herschel

John Herschel
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: March 7, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: May 11, 1871

 43 Peter Scott

Peter Scott
Famous As: Ornithologist
Birthdate: September 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 29, 1989

 44 William Crookes

William Crookes
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: June 17, 1832
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 4, 1919

William Crookes was a British chemist and physicist remembered as a pioneer of vacuum tubes. He was the inventor of what became known as the Crookes tube. He is also credited with the discovery of the element thallium. He was the first person to describe the spectrum of terrestrial helium. He was interested in spiritualism and occultism as well. 

 45 John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne
Famous As: Physicist, Theoretical physicist
Birthdate: October 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Weston-super-Mare

 46 William Smith

William Smith
Famous As: paleontologist, civil engineer, geologist
Birthdate: March 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Churchill
Died: August 28, 1839

 47 William Whewell

William Whewell
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.

 48 Andrew Huxley

Andrew Fielding Huxley
Famous As: Physiologist & Biophysicist
Birthdate: November 22, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
Died: May 30, 2012

 49 Arthur Holmes

Arthur Holmes
Famous As: Geophysicist, Geologist
Birthdate: January 14, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gateshead
Died: September 20, 1965

 50 Charles Bell

Charles Bell
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: November 12, 1774
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 28, 1842