Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.
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.
Terence Tao is an Australian-American mathematician who works at the University of California, Los Angeles as a professor of mathematics. Widely considered one of the most prominent living mathematicians, Tao was honored with the prestigious Fields Medal in 2006. In 2014, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.
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.
Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, a major figure of the Second Dutch Golden Age, is remembered for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, along with his former student Pieter Zeeman, who shared the Nobel with Lorentz. His research on electromagnetic radiation prepared ground for Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
A scientist, meteorologist, mathematician, and biologist, Gregor Mendel is considered the founder of the modern science of genetics. He conducted a series of experiments on pea plants between 1856 and 1863, establishing many rules of heredity. Besides his work on pea plants, he also described novel plant species and conducted experiments with hawkweed and honeybees.
Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.
Best known for conceptualizing the Mahalanobis distance, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was a renowned Padma Vibhushan-winning Indian statistician who played a major role in his country’s industrialization policies of the Second Five-Year Plan. He also taught at his alma, Presidency College, and was one of the founders of the Indian Statistical Institute.
Ibn al-Haytham was an Arab mathematician, physicist, and astronomer of the Islamic Golden Age. He is best remembered for his contributions to the principles of optics for which he is called the father of modern optics. He was the first person to explain visual perception. A polymath, Ibn al-Haytham also wrote influential books on philosophy, medicine, and theology.
12 John Dee
Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.
Swiss-American physicist and engineer Bernhard Caesar Einstein was better known as the only grandchild of Albert Einstein to have survived beyond childhood. While two of his biological brothers died in infancy, his parents adopted a girl child, too. He grew up to work on night vision and laser technology.
14 Adi Shamir
Alfred Kinsey was an American biologist, sexologist, and professor of zoology and entomology. He is credited with founding the Indiana University's Institute for Sex Research in 1947. Kinsey's research on human sexuality and his other works have influenced cultural and social values in the USA as well as internationally. In 2012, Kinsey was inducted into Chicago's Legacy Walk.
16 Carl Woese
Carl Woese was an American biophysicist and microbiologist. He is credited with originating the RNA world hypothesis as well as pioneering a technique that revolutionized microbiology. In 1992, he was awarded microbiology's highest honor, Leeuwenhoek Medal. In 1995, he was honored with the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology. Carl Woese received the National Medal of Science in 2000.
17 Ernst Mayr
Ernst Mayr was a renowned taxonomist, ornithologist, tropical explorer, historian of science, and philosopher of biology. He was also one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. His work contributed immensely to the progression of the biological species concept. Ernst Mayr is also credited with originating the modern philosophy of biology, especially the part concerning evolutionary biology.
18 Samuel Colt
19 Bill Oddie
Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She is credited with discovering sex chromosomes which later came to be known as the X and Y chromosomes. In 1994, Nettie Stevens was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
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.
24 Thomas Kuhn
American philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn is noted for his book on history of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, publication of which marked a significant event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. He presented his notion of paradigm shift and identified and elaborated on normal science in this book which remained influential in academic and popular circles.
25 C. N. R. Rao
C. N. R. Rao already had a PhD degree at age 24 and became the youngest lecturer at the IISc. The Padma Shri- and Padma Vibhushan-winning Indian chemist is best known for his research on areas such as surface chemistry, superconductivity, and nano technology. He is a self-confessed technophobe.
French astronomer Charles Messier is remembered for his pioneering tabulation of nebulae, making it easier to differentiate between nebulae and comets. King Louis XV name him The Comet Ferret. He was drawn to astronomy when he witnessed a solar eclipse and the great six-tailed comet in childhood.
27 John Urschel
Part of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list of young scientists, Canadian-American mathematician John Urschel has previously had an illustrious football career as part of the NFL team Baltimore Ravens. He played with the Ravens without revealing that he was a full-time graduate student at MIT.
Johns Hopkins Hospital co-founder William Osler was also an avid historian. He redefined medical education with his emphasis on clinical experience and his book The Principles and Practice of Medicine. Born to a missionary father in Canada, he was to follow in his father’s footsteps but decided to study medicine instead.
American theoretical-physicist John Archibald Wheeler, who worked as professor of physics at Princeton University for most of his career, is best-known for co-developing the concept of Breit–Wheeler process, popularising the term black hole, and helping in designing and building the hydrogen bomb. He also invented several terms like quantum foam and wormhole, and hypothesized the one-electron universe.
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.
33 Paul Stamets
Paul Stamets is an American entrepreneur and mycologist. An ardent supporter of mycoremediation and medicinal fungi, Stamets sells various mushroom products. In 2014, he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with an Invention Ambassador award. In 2019, he contributed immensely to the creation of a documentary film titled Fantastic Fungi.
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.
William Henry Bragg was an English physicist, chemist, and mathematician. He is best known for sharing the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics with his son Lawrence Bragg for their work in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. William Henry Bragg had an illustrious academic career and was elected president of the Royal Society in 1935.
37 Fred Hoyle
Fred Hoyle was an English astronomer known for his theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He spent most of his career at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, serving as its director for six years. He was also an author of science fiction novels, short stories, and plays and appeared in a series of radio talks on astronomy for the BBC.
Born to a math professor father and a Sanskrit scholar mother, Astrophysicist and IUCAA professor Jayant Narlikar grew up to collaborate with Sir Fred Hoyle, leading to the conformal gravity theory, also known as the Hoyle-Narlikar theory. He has won the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan and penned sci-fi novels, too.
40 Jeff Corwin
Jeff Corwin is a biologist and wildlife conservationist. He is most popular for hosting TV shows on nature, such as Disney Channel's Going Wild With Jeff Corwin and The Jeff Corwin Experience on Animal Planet. He studied at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has been involved in conservation since his student days and lectures on wildlife, ecology, and conservation.
41 Max Levchin
Max Levchin is a Ukrainian-American businessman and software engineer. He is credited with co-founding a company named Confinity which eventually became PayPal. Levchin is renowned for making an immense contribution to the company's anti-fraud efforts. Max Levchin is also credited with co-founding or founding companies like Affirm, HVF, and Slide.com.
The current Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh has previously held other important portfolios, such as home affairs and agriculture. He has also been a BJP president and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Born into a farmer’s family, he worked as a physics lecturer before he joined the RSS.
British professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and Labour Party politician Robert Winston is noted for developing gynaecological surgical procedures that improved fertility treatments. He also pioneered different improvements in IVF technology. He was created a life peer in December 1995.
46 Hans Bethe
A physiology professor’s son, Hans Bethe had shown immense talent in math as a child. The German-American theoretical physicist and Cornell professor was a pioneer of quantum physics and later won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his research on stellar nucleosynthesis, or the formation of energy in stars.
47 Elio Di Rupo
Born to a church minister, Henrietta Swan Leavitt grew up to work as a “human computer” at the Harvard Observatory. The American astronomer gained fame for discovering the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables. However, her brilliant scientific career was halted by her death due to stomach cancer at 53.
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.