Famous Canadian Physicists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Canadian Physicists

 1 
Louis Slotin
(Physicist)

Louis Slotin
6
Birthdate: December 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada
Died: May 30, 1946
While showing his colleagues how to work on a plutonium bomb, Canadian scientist Louis Slotin was exposed to a lethal radioactive dose that first caused him to vomit and then die 9 days later. He had, however, reportedly shielded his colleagues from maximum exposure, thus saving their lives.

 2 
Donna Strickland
(Optical physicist)

Donna Strickland
4
Birthdate: May 27, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Guelph, Canada

Donna Strickland is a Canadian optical physicist who is considered a pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers. In recognition of her research on the practical implementation of chirped pulse amplification, she was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, together with Gérard Mourou. She is currently a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. 

 3 
Arthur B. McDonald
(Physicist, University teacher)

Arthur B. McDonald
3
Birthdate: August 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sydney

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist Arthur B. McDonald is remembered for his research on neutrino oscillations and for proving that neutrinos have mass. He spent most of his life teaching at the Princeton and Queen’s universities. He also headed a project that mass-produced low-cost ventilators to be used as COVID-19 supplies.

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 4 
Hubert Reeves
(Popularizer of science, Astrophysicist, Science writer)

Hubert Reeves
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal

Known as “The Poet of the Stars,” Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves has been a NASA advisor. His research covers neutrinos and thermonuclear reactions in stars. Having penned numerous science and astronomy books such as Soleil, he is known as a popularizer of science and has an asteroid named after him.

 5 
Nima Arkani-Hamed
(Theoretical Physicist with interests in high-energy physics, quantum field theory, string theory, cosmology)

Nima Arkani-Hamed
0
Birthdate: April 5, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

 6 
Hugh Ross
(astronomer, physicist)

Hugh Ross
3
Birthdate: July 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Montreal

Equipped with a PhD in astronomy, Hugh Ross had been a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech. However, he later focused on studying the link between scientific discoveries and their biblical explanations, and formed the ministry Reasons to Believe. He has written books, hosted podcasts, and attended events, speaking about progressive creationism.

 7 
Ursula Franklin
(Physicist)

Ursula Franklin
0
Birthdate: September 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: July 22, 2016
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 8 

Richard E. Taylor
2
Birthdate: November 2, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Died: February 22, 2018

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist and Stanford professor Richard E. Taylor is best remembered for revolutionizing particle physics by discovering quarks, which make up matter. He was also associated with the designing of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

 9 
Willard Boyle
(Physicist, Inventor, Photographer)

Willard Boyle
2
Birthdate: August 19, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Amherst
Died: May 7, 2011

Willard Boyle revolutionized physics with the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), which also earned him, and his co-inventor George E. Smith, a Nobel Prize. During his time at Bellcomm, he was associated with the Apollo space program. Both he and Smith worked for Bell Laboratories, too.

 10 
Gerhard Herzberg
(Physical Chemist, Physicist)

Gerhard Herzberg
1
Birthdate: December 25, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg, Imperial Germany
Died: March 3, 1999

German-Canadian physicist Gerhard Herzberg is remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning work on ascertaining the electronic structure of molecules, particularly free radicals. He had escaped to Canada following the rise of the Nazis and later also worked in the U.S. His doctoral students included Japanese chemist Takeshi Oka.

 11 
John Tuzo Wilson
(Geophysicist)

John Tuzo Wilson
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1908
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada
Died: April 15, 1993

Best known for his work on plate tectonics, John Tuzo Wilson was the son of a Scottish immigrant and had become the first Canadian to earn a degree in geophysics. Following his service in World War II, he began teaching geophysics. The Wilson Mountains in Antarctica was named after him.

 12 

Bertram Brockhouse
1
Birthdate: July 15, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lethbridge, Canada
Died: October 13, 2003

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian physicist Bertram Brockhouse is best remembered for his research on neutron-scattering techniques. He also invented the neutron spectrometer and became one of the first to calculate the phonon dispersion curve of a solid. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contribution to science.

 13 
Melissa Franklin
(Physicist)

Melissa Franklin
1
Birthdate: September 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edmonton, Canada

Particle physicist and Harvard professor Melissa Franklin is known for her research on the Higgs boson and the proton-proton collisions caused by the Large Hadron Collider. Interestingly, she had quit high school to form a parallel school with her friends. The Stanford alumna is also associated with the ATLAS experiment.

 14 

Arthur Jeffrey Dempster
1
Birthdate: August 14, 1886
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Died: March 11, 1950

Physicist Arthur Jeffrey Dempster is credited with the invention of the first mass spectrometer, which is used to measure the quantities of charged particles. He was also the man behind the discovery of uranium-235, an isotope used in atom bombs, and was associated with the Manhattan Project, too.

 15 
James Hillier
(Physicist)

James Hillier
1
Birthdate: August 22, 1915
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brantford, Canada
Died: January 15, 2007

While he initially aspired to be an artist, physicist James Hillier later earned a scholarship to the University of Toronto, where he co-invented the prototype of the first commercial electron microscope. He eventually won 40 patents and was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

 16 
Walter Zinn
(Physicist)

Walter Zinn
1
Birthdate: December 10, 1906
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kitchener, Canada
Died: February 14, 2000
Nuclear physicist Walter Zinn was a key figure of the Manhattan Project during World War II and was the man behind the world’s first nuclear reactor. Born to a factory worker, Zinn used his talent in math and physics to eventually gain a PhD. He also led the American Nuclear Society.

 17 
D. Allan Bromley
(Physicist)

D. Allan Bromley
1
Birthdate: May 4, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ontario, Canada
Died: February 10, 2005

A pioneer of modern heavy ion physics, nuclear physicist and Yale professor D. Allan Bromley had received more than 30 honorary doctorates and won the National Medal of Science. As the science and technology advisor to President George H. W. Bush, he became the first to hold such a position.

 18 
Robert Pound
(Physicist)

Robert Pound
1
Birthdate: May 16, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ridgeway, Fort Erie, Canada
Died: April 12, 2010

Though physicist Robert Pound was a major part of the discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), he missed out on the Nobel Prize for the discovery due to the restrictions on the upper limit of recipients. The Harvard professor and National Medal of Science winner also designed the Pound–Rebka experiment.

 19 
John Savage
(Physician)

John Savage
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1932
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newport, Wales
Died: May 13, 2003

Born to a Canadian physician in Wales, John Savage followed in his father’s footsteps to study medicine. He later gained the name "hippie doctor" for his beard and unconventional treatments. He later led the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and also became the Premier of Nova Scotia.

 20 
Sylvia Fedoruk
(Physicist, Politician)

Sylvia Fedoruk
0
Birthdate: May 5, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Canora, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died: September 26, 2012

 21 
John F. Allen
(Physicist)

John F. Allen
0
Birthdate: May 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died: April 22, 2001

 22 

John Herbert Chapman
0
Birthdate: August 28, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, Canada
Died: September 28, 1979