Famous Danish Scientists

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Denmark is today recognized as a frontrunner in several areas of technology and research. The Danish have a long history of scientific and technological achievements. Hans Christian Ørsted, the physicist who discovered that electric currents create magnetic fields, was a Dane whose discoveries shaped advances in science throughout the late 19th century. His protégé William Christopher Zeise became an early proponent of organic chemistry and performed pioneering studies in organosulfur chemistry, discovering the xanthates. Another Danish scientist who made revolutionary contributions to the development of technology was physicist Niels Bohr who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory. Inge Lehmann, a seismologist who discovered that the Earth has a solid inner core inside a molten outer core became the first woman to receive the William Bowie Medal. Danish scientists have made significant contributions to various scientific fields and the country has produced Nobel laureates such as Niels Ryberg Finsen, Jens Christian Skou, and Henrik Dam. Schack August Steenberg Krogh, a pioneer in comparative studies on animals, became famous for developing the Krogh Principle. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous Danish scientists.
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 1 
Niels Bohr
(Danish Physicist Who Made Foundational Contributions to Understanding Atomic Structure and Quantum Theory)
Niels Bohr
13
Birthdate: October 7, 1885
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 18, 1962
Nobel Prize-winning Danish physicist Niels Bohr is remembered for his work on the atomic structure and quantum theory. He laid down the Bohr model of the atom and established the Niels Bohr Institute. The element Bohrium has been named after him. He was also part of the British nuclear project.
 2 
Tycho Brahe
(16th Century Danish Astronomer Who is Known for His Accurate and Comprehensive Astronomical Observations)
Tycho Brahe
13
Birthdate: December 14, 1546
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knutstorp Manor, Sweden
Died: October 24, 1601
Danish astronomer and writer Tycho Brahe, an heir to a noble family, was one of the last greatest naked-eye astronomers. According to the Tychonic system of astronomy, the Sun orbited the Earth. His assistant Johannes Kepler used Tycho's astronomical data to form his laws of planetary motion.
 3 
Hans Christian Ørsted
5
Birthdate: August 14, 1777
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rudkøbing
Died: March 9, 1851

Hans Christian Ørsted was a Danish chemist and physicist. He was the first person to discover that electric currents can be used to create magnetic fields. His discovery was the first relationship found between magnetism and electricity. Oersted, the unit of the auxiliary magnetic field H, is named in his honor.

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 4 
Hans Christian Gram
(Former bacteriologist noted for his development of the Gram stain)
Hans Christian Gram
4
Birthdate: September 13, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 14, 1938

Hans Christian Gram was a Danish bacteriologist best remembered for developing a technique called Gram stain, which is still used today to classify bacteria. He achieved international recognition after developing the Gram stain technique. Hans Christian Gram also served as a professor at the University of Copenhagen.

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 5 
Bjarne Stroustrup
(Computer scientist, Engineer, Scientist, Programmer, Writer, University teacher)
Bjarne Stroustrup
10
Birthdate: December 30, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aarhus

Bjarne Stroustrup is a Danish computer scientist best known for his invention and development of the popular C++ general-purpose programming language. He is currently working as a managing director at Morgan Stanley in New York, apart from serving as a visiting professor at the prestigious Columbia University. 

 6 
David Heinemeier Hansson
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1979
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark

David Heinemeier Hansson is a Danish programmer best known as the creator of the popular Ruby on Rails web development framework. Along with Dave Thomas, he co-wrote Agile Web Development with Rails. He is a partner at the web-based software development firm Basecamp. Also a car racing enthusiast, he took part in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

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 7 
Aage Bohr
(Danish Nuclear Physicist and Winner of 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Aage Bohr
3
Birthdate: June 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: September 8, 2009

Nobel Prize-winning Danish nuclear physicist Aage Bohr is best remembered for his work related to the geometry of atomic nuclei. Son of Nobel laureate physicist Niels Bohr, Aage had started his career as an assistant to his father and working on the development of the atomic bomb.

 8 
Lene Hau
(Danish Physicist Who Pioneered the Use of 'Bose-Einstein' Condensates in Slowing the Beam of Light)
Lene Hau
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vejle, Denmark

Lene Hau is a Danish physicist and educator currently serving as the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. She has done major research into novel interactions between ultracold atoms and nanoscopic-scale systems. She also often speaks at international conferences. She is a recipient of the George Ledlie Prize and the Richtmyer Memorial Award. 

 9 
Piet Hein
(Polymath)
Piet Hein
2
Birthdate: December 16, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: April 17, 1996

Piet Hein was a Danish polymath. He was an expert in mathematics and was also an inventor, designer, and writer. He studied at the University of Copenhagen and Technical University of Denmark. He joined the Danish resistance movement when the Germans invaded Denmark. In his later years, he invented the Soma cube and devised the games of Hex and Tower.   

 10 
Nicolas Steno
(Danish Scientist Who Was a Pioneer in Both Anatomy and Geology)
Nicolas Steno
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1638
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: November 25, 1686

Nicolas Steno was a 17th-century Danish scientist considered a pioneer in both anatomy and geology. He received training in the classical texts on science and went on to become an expert on fossils and rock formation. Today, he is considered one of the founders of modern stratigraphy and modern geology. He became a Catholic bishop in his later years.  

 11 
Ole Rømer
(Astronomer)
Ole Rømer
6
Birthdate: September 25, 1644
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aarhus, Denmark
Died: September 19, 1710

Ole Rømer was a Danish astronomer known for making the first quantitative measurements of the speed of light in 1676. Born into a wealthy family where his interest in mathematics and astronomy were encouraged, he went on to study at the University of Copenhagen. He had a high-profile career and was employed by the French government under King Louis XIV. 

 12 
Inge Lehmann
(Seismologist & Geophysicist Known for Her Discovery that Earth’s Outer Core is Molten & its Inner Core Solid)
Inge Lehmann
3
Birthdate: May 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: February 21, 1993

Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann is remembered for her groundbreaking discovery of the Earth’s solid inner core and molten outer core, using seismic waves. While she initially studied math, she later deviated to seismology, with a focus on ascertaining earthquake epicenters. The William Bowie Medal-winning scientist died at age 104.

 13 
Peter Naur
(Danish astronomer)
Peter Naur
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Frederiksberg
Died: January 3, 2016

Peter Naur was a Danish computer science pioneer. Along with John Backus, he contributed to the development of the Backus–Naur Form (BNF) notation used in describing the syntax for most programming languages. He began his career as an astronomer, eventually shifting to computers. He was a professor of computer science at the University of Copenhagen for many years. 

 14 
Niels Ryberg Finsen
2
Birthdate: December 15, 1860
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Died: September 24, 1904

Niels Ryberg Finsen was a Danish-Faroese scientist and physician. Finsen's method to treat diseases, such as lupus vulgaris, using concentrated light radiation, earned him the 1903 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. Copenhagen University Hospital houses the famous Finsen Laboratory, which is named in his honor.

 15 
Agner Krarup Erlang
(Mathematician, Engineer, Statistician)
Agner Krarup Erlang
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Denmark
Died: February 3, 1929

Agner Krarup Erlang was a Danish mathematician, statistician, and engineer. he graduated from the University of Copenhagen with distinction and worked as a teacher for many years. He is best known for inventing the fields of traffic engineering and queueing theory. He is also credited with the creation of the field of telephone networks analysis.   

 16 
Johan Christian Fabricius
(Danish Entomologist Who Established the Basis for the Modern Insect Classification)
Johan Christian Fabricius
2
Birthdate: January 7, 1745
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tøndern, Denmark
Died: March 3, 1808

Johan Christian Fabricius was a Danish zoologist. He specialized in "Insecta", which at that time included all insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and other anthropoids. He studied under the renowned Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus and went on to become one of the most important entomologists of the 18th century. He is credited to have named nearly 10,000 species of animals. 

 17 
Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted
(Danish Physical Chemist Who Developed the 'Brønsted–Lowry Acid–Base Theory')
Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted
2
Birthdate: February 22, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Varde, Denmark
Died: December 17, 1947

Danish physical chemist Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted is best known for his discovery of an acid-base concept that was similar to but independent of Thomas Martin Lowry’s research. He also taught at Yale and was later elected to the Danish Parliament. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize 4 times.

 18 
Harald Bohr
(Danish Mathematician and Footballer Known for Founding the Field of 'Almost Periodic Functions')
Harald Bohr
2
Birthdate: April 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: January 22, 1951

Not only was Harald Bohr the younger brother of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr, but he was also a renowned mathematician in his own right. He is remembered for his research on periodic functions. Interestingly, he was also part of the silver-winning Danish football team at the 1908 London Olympics.

 19 
Ben Roy Mottelson
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Nobel Prize-winning Danish-American physicist Ben Roy Mottelson is best known for his research on asymmetrical shapes of atomic nuclei. A Harvard alumnus, he later taught at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Nuclear Physics in Copenhagen. He has been named to the American Philosophical Society, too, among other honorary organizations.

 20 
Max Henius
(Biochemist)
Max Henius
2
Birthdate: June 16, 1859
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aalborg, Denmark
Died: November 15, 1935
 21 
Jens Peter Jacobsen
(Danish Novelist, Poet, and Scientist)
Jens Peter Jacobsen
2
Birthdate: April 7, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thisted, Denmark
Died: April 30, 1885

Danish author Jens Peter Jacobsen is remembered for pioneering the Naturalist mode of writing in Danish literature. While he initially translated some of Charles Darwin’s works, he later penned novels such as Marie Grubbe: A Lady of the Seventeenth Century. He is also known for his poems, which were released posthumously.

 22 
Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen
(Danish Botanist, Physiologist, and Geneticist Best Known for Coining the Terms Gene, Phenotype and Genotype)
Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen
2
Birthdate: February 3, 1857
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Elsinore, Denmark
Died: November 11, 1927

Danish geneticist and botanist Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen is remembered for his research on plant heredity. Initially a professor, who had also taught plant physiology at the University of Copenhagen, he later focused on research. He is also credited with coining the terms phenotype, genotype, and genes.

 23 
August Krogh
(Zoophysiologist)
August Krogh
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1874
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Grenå
Died: September 13, 1949

August Krogh was a Danish professor who taught at the University of Copenhagen between 1916 and 1945. He is best remembered for receiving the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1920. Apart from his contributions to medicine, August Krogh is also remembered for co-founding the popular multinational pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk. 

 24 
Jens C Skou
(Danish Biochemist and Winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Jens C Skou
2
Birthdate: October 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lemvig, Denmark
Died: May 28, 2018

Jens C. Skou was a Danish biochemist best known for his work in the field of animal cells. Along with Paul D. Boyer and John E. Walker, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997. He had a brilliant academic career and remained active well into his 90s. He died at the age of 99. 

 25 
Thomas Bartholin
(Danish Physician, Mathematician, and Theologian Known for His Work in the Discovery of the Lymphatic System in Humans)
Thomas Bartholin
2
Birthdate: October 20, 1616
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Malmö Municipality, Sweden
Died: December 4, 1680

Thomas Bartholin was a Danish physician, theologian, and mathematician. He is best remembered for discovering the lymphatic system in human beings. Thomas Bartholin is also known as the first person to scientifically describe refrigeration anesthesia, which is widely used today, especially while performing major amputations of the limbs.    

 26 
Niels Kaj Jerne
(Immunologist)
Niels Kaj Jerne
2
Birthdate: December 23, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 7, 1994

Niels Kaj Jerne was a Danish immunologist best remembered for winning the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alongside César Milstein and Georges J. F. Köhler. Jerne, who made important contributions to the fields of Immunology and Microbiology, was also honored with the Marcel Benoist Prize and Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 1978 and 1982 respectively.

 27 
Ejnar Hertzsprung
(Renowned Danish Astronomer Known for His Classification of Stars by Their Spectral Type)
Ejnar Hertzsprung
2
Birthdate: October 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Copenhagen
Died: October 21, 1967

Danish chemist and astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung is perhaps best remembered for his unique method of classification of stars by their spectral type. His contributions include the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. He also worked as a senior astronomer at the Potsdam observatory and headed the university observatory at Leiden.

 28 
Johannes Eugenius Bülow Warming
1
Birthdate: November 3, 1841
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mano, Denmark
Died: April 2, 1924
 29 
Henrik Dam
(Biochemist)
Henrik Dam
1
Birthdate: February 21, 1895
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Copenhagen
Died: April 17, 1976
 30 
Johannes Fibiger
(Danish Physician Who Won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for His Discovery of 'Spiroptera Carcinoma')
Johannes Fibiger
1
Birthdate: April 23, 1867
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Silkeborg, Denmark
Died: January 30, 1928

Johannes Fibiger was a Danish physician who also worked at the University of Copenhagen as a professor of anatomical pathology. He is best remembered for winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1926. He won the prize for discovering a worm, which he named Spiroptera carcinoma. The roundworm was later correctly named Gongylonema neoplasticum.

 31 
Peter Wilhelm Lund
(Paleontologist, Zoologist, Archeologist)
Peter Wilhelm Lund
1
Birthdate: June 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: May 25, 1880

Peter Wilhelm Lund was a Danish paleontologist, zoologist, and archeologist. He spent most of his life working in Brazil and is considered the father of Brazilian paleontology as well as archaeology. He became the first person to describe dozens of species of pre-historic Pleistocene megafauna and discovered the fossilized remains of human beings among the remains of long-extinct species. 

 32 
Emil Christian Hansen
1
Birthdate: May 8, 1842
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ribe, Denmark
Died: August 27, 1909
 33 
John Louis Emil Dreyer
1
Birthdate: February 13, 1852
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: September 14, 1926

John Louis Emil Dreyer was a Danish astronomer. He is best remembered for serving as the president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1923 to 1925. Prior to his service as the president John Louis Emil Dreyer was honored with the gold medal, the highest award given by the society, in 1916.

 34 
Rasmus Bartholin
(Danish Physician and Physicist Who Discovered the Optical Phenomenon of 'Double Refraction')
Rasmus Bartholin
2
Birthdate: August 13, 1625
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roskilde, Denmark
Died: November 4, 1698

Rasmus Bartholin was a Danish grammarian and physician. He is best remembered for his discovery of the double refraction of a ray of light by Iceland spar. Rasmus Bartholin is also remembered for his association with the University of Copenhagen where he served as a professor of Geometry and Medicine. 

 35 
William Christopher Zeise
(Danish Organic Chemist Known for Synthesising 'Zeise's Salt' and Discovering 'Xanthates')
William Christopher Zeise
1
Birthdate: October 15, 1789
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Slagelse, Denmark
Died: November 12, 1847

Danish organic chemist William Christopher Zeise initially aspired to study medicine but later switched to chemistry. He prepared one of the world’s first organometallic compounds, Zeise’s salt, and conducted pathbreaking research in the field of organosulfur chemistry. His achievements got him knighted by the Danish monarch.

 36 
Willi Dansgaard
(Paleoclimatologist)
Willi Dansgaard
1
Birthdate: August 30, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: January 8, 2011
 37 
Steen Willadsen
(Scientist)
Steen Willadsen
1
Birthdate: 1943 AD
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
 38 
Bengt Strömgren
(Danish Astronomer and Astrophysicist Who Pioneered the Present-Day Knowledge of the Gas Clouds in Space)
Bengt Strömgren
0
Birthdate: January 21, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden
Died: July 4, 1987
Bengt Strömgren was a Danish astrophysicist and astronomer best remembered for pioneering photoelectric photometry and developing what is now called the Strömgren photometric system. His immense contributions to astrophysics were honored with the prestigious Bruce Medal in 1959. In 1967, the French Academy of Sciences awarded him the Janssen Medal.
 
Christen Sørensen Longomontanus
1
Birthdate: October 4, 1562
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jutland, Egtved, Denmark
Died: October 8, 1647

Christen Sørensen Longomontanus was a Danish astronomer best remembered for developing Tycho Brahe's geoheliocentric model of the universe. Brahe's geoheliocentric model, which was also known as the Tychonic system, was widely accepted at that time. Christen Sørensen Longomontanus also published major works in astronomy and mathematics such as Systematis Mathematici and Disputatio de Eclipsibus. 

 40 
Hans Peter Jørgen Julius Thomsen
(Danish Chemist Who Gave the Thomsen–Berthelot Principle)
Hans Peter Jørgen Julius Thomsen
0
Birthdate: February 16, 1826
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: February 13, 1909

Hans Peter Jørgen Julius Thomsen was a Danish chemist best remembered for his hypothesis, the Thomsen–Berthelot principle. One of his books on systematic research in thermochemistry was translated into English by British chemist Katherine Alice Burke. Hans Peter Jørgen Julius Thomsen also served as a professor at the University of Copenhagen.