**Birthdate:**November 7, 1867

**Sun Sign:**Scorpio

**Birthplace:**Warsaw, Poland

**Died:**July 4, 1934

*radioactivity*and discovered polonium and radium.

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

Dating back to the seventeenth century—when King Louis XIV established the first institute for scientific research named ‘Acádémie des Sciences’—technology and science in France have come a long way. The development of groundbreaking inventions like radioactivity, refrigerators, photography and parachutes, amongst others, have made French scientists famous all over the world. France lays claim to being a major exporter of nuclear technology, as well as the inventor of safe radioactive waste disposal methods. Many utilitarian innovations have been made by French scientists; these famous scientists have won the prestigious ‘Nobel Prize’ for their invaluable contribution to the advancement of human society. Science would not have been the same had it not been for scientists like Henri Becquerel, who discovered ‘Radioactivity’; Antoine Lavoisier, who proposed the ‘Conservation of Mass’ theory and Blaise Pascal, who came up with the ‘Probability Theory’. French scientists have always been leading contributors to the world’s scientific advancements, be it in the field of chemistry, or molecular biology or radiology or the physical sciences. To know more, explore the collection of biographies of some of the most famous French scientists. Read for more information about their life stories, timelines along with interesting facts & trivia related to them.

Vote for Your Favourite French Scientists

1

Marie Curie

(The First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize)

Amongst the most notable scientists of her time, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the sole person to win two Nobel Prize in two different category, and the first woman professor at the University of Paris—Marie Curie’s list of achievements is incredible. She did extensive research in the field of *radioactivity* and discovered polonium and radium.

2

René Déscartes

(French Philosopher, Mathematician and Inventor of ‘Analytic Geometry’)

René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the **Cartesian coordinate system** being named after him. His **Meditations on First Philosophy** is still taught at many universities.

3

Louis Pasteur

(Chemist and Microbiologist)

Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the **Pasteur Institute** in Paris.

4

Blaise Pascal

(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Time Who Invented the Mechanical Calculator)

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on *projective geometry,* at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest** inventors of the mechanical calculator**, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on *probability theory* influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

5

Pierre Curie

(Nobel Laureate in Physics)

A pioneer in crystallography, radioactivity, piezoelectricity, and magnetism, Pierre Curie was a French physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie. Despite being an** **atheist, Pierre Curie was fascinated by spiritualism** **as he believed that spiritual questions deal with physics.

6

Irène Joliot-Curie

(French Physicist, Politician and Winner of the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Marie Curie and Pierre Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, herself a brilliant scientist, won the 1935 **Nobel Prize in Chemistry**, along with her husband, Joliot-Curie, for discovering artificial radioactivity. She was also one of the first three female French government members. She tragically died of leukemia caused by exposure to radiation.

7

Antoine Lavoisier

(French Chemist Who Discovered the Role of Oxygen in Combustion)

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the ** father of modern chemistry**, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system.

8

Pierre-Simon Laplace

(Mathematician)

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the *Newton of France*, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

9

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

(Naturalist and Biologist Best Known for Proposing that Acquired Characteristics can be Inherited.)

French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the term *biology*.

10

Henri Poincare

(French Polymath and Mathematician Known as One of the Founders of the 'Field of Topology')

Known as *The Last Universalist *for his expertise in a variety of domains, French mathematician Henri Poincare conducted research that formed the basis of the modern chaos theory. Apart from his work on relativity and the three-body problem, he also laid the foundation of algebraic topology.

11

Évariste Galois

(Mathematician)

Évariste Galois was a French mathematician best remembered for solving a 350-year-old problem when he was still in his teens. His work formed the basis for group theory and Galois theory, two important branches of abstract algebra. Also a political activist, Évariste Galois died at the age of 20 after suffering wounds in a duel.

12

Benoit Mandelbrot

(Mathematician and polymath)

36

20

Noted mathematician and polymath, Benoit B. Mandelbrot is perhaps best known for his work on *fractal*. He not only coined the term, but also used computer-constructed images to illustrate the mathematical definition. Also credited with the discovery of *Mandelbrot set* and *Mandelbrot law, *he established that even those things which were apparently chaotic or rough had a "degree of order".

13

Andre Marie Ampere

(Physicist)

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him.

14

Jacques Cousteau

(Co-Inventor of the First Open-Circuit, Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus 'Aqua-Lung')

Jacques Cousteau was a French explorer, naval officer, filmmaker, conservationist, scientist, photographer, researcher, and author. Renowned for his exploration of various forms of life in water, Jacques Cousteau is credited with pioneering marine conservation and co-developing the *Aqua-Lung*, the first underwater breathing apparatus to achieve popularity and commercial success.

15

Joseph Fourier

(Mathematician & Physicist)

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

16

Louis de Broglie

(Physicist)

Louis de Broglie was a French aristocrat and physicist who made important contributions to quantum theory. His *de Broglie hypothesis,* which suggests that all matter has wave properties, is one of the most important features in the theory of quantum mechanics. In 1929, de Broglie was honored with the* Nobel Prize for Physics* for his work.

17

Alexander Grothendieck

(French Mathematician and a Pioneer in the Field of 'Modern Algebraic Geometry')

Alexander Grothendieck was a 20th-century mathematician who was a leading figure in the creation of modern algebraic geometry. With his so-called "relative" perspective, he revolutionized many areas of pure mathematics. During his later career, he became a professor at the University of Montpellier. He is counted among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century.

18

Pierre de Fermat

(Mathematician)

Seventeenth-century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat was also a qualified lawyer. Remembered mostly for his contribution to number theory, probability, calculus, and analytic geometry, he was also known for his proficiency in six languages, including Greek and Latin. One of his major works, *Introduction to Loci*, was released posthumously.

19

Joseph Louis Lagrange

(Mathematician)

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

20

Adrien-Marie Legendre

(Mathematician)

Born into an affluent family, French mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre probably never had to earn a living till the beginning of the French Revolution. Excelling in math and physics, he later contributed to areas such as *elliptic functions*, developed the *least squares method*, and lent his name to *Legendre polynomials*.

21

Émilie du Châtelet

(Philosopher)

20

5

22

Henri Becquerel

(Physicist, Discoverer of Radioactivity)

**Nobel Prize**-winning physicist Henri Becquerel is known for his chance discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. Born into a family of scientists, Becquerel had been an engineer and a physics professor earlier. Marie Curie, who shared the **Nobel **with him and her husband, Pierre, was one of his doctoral students.

23

Georges Cuvier

(French Naturalist and Zoologist Known for Establishing the Field of 'Comparative Anatomy' and 'Paleontology')

Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th century's research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded as** the founding father of paleontology.**

24

Sophie Germain

(French Mathematician Known for Her 'Sophie Germain Prime Numbers')

French mathematician Sophie Germain had used the pseudonym *M. Le Blanc* to get hold of notes from the **École Polytechnique**, as being a woman, she was not allowed to attend the institute. She later contributed to the number theory and also pioneered the elasticity theory. She died of breast cancer.

Recommended Lists:

25

Augustin-Louis Cauchy

(Mathematician)

French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was initially a military engineer. In his early days, he and his family escaped the Reign of Terror and settled in Arcueil. He was one of the pioneers of mathematical analysis and made significant contributions to subjects such as error theory, calculus, and complex functions.

26

Luc Montagnier

(Virologist & Discoverer of HIV)

36

7

French virologist Luc Montagnier is known for discovering the *human immunodeficiency virus* (*HIV*) which led him to jointly receive the 2008 *Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine*. Montagnier also made headlines promoting controversial and unverified claims related to vaccinations, homeopathy and *COVID-19* pandemic, which he argued as man-made and possibly a result of an attempt to create an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

27

Jean-Paul Marat

(French Politician and Journalist During French Politician)

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as **L'Ami du people**. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a **Girondin** supporter made him a **Jacobin** martyr.

28

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

(Botanist, Pharmacist, Physician, Agronomist, Nutritionist)

19

7

While in prison, in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War, army pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was forced to eat potatoes, which were considered fit only for prison ration and animal feed back then. Parmentier later persuaded the **Paris Faculty of Medicine** to declare potatoes edible and popularized them in France.

29

Olivier Messiaen

(One of the Major Composers, Organists and Ornithologists of the 20th Century Who Developed 'Modes of Limited Transposition')

French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen is credited with creating melodically innovative scores, using what he called "modes of limited transposition." An ornithologist, too, he added bird songs into his compositions such as *La fauvette des jardins *and *Catalogue d'oiseaux*. His *Messiaen: Concert A Quatre* won a **Grammy**.

30

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

(Jesuit Priest who Co-developed the Concept of Noosphere & was Part of the Discovery of Peking Man)

French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is remembered as someone who deviated from theology to science. He discovered the fossilized remains known as the *Peking man* in China, but faced a lot of opposition from his religious superiors when it came to publishing his scientific thoughts.

31

Frédéric Joliot-Curie

(Physicist)

Frédéric Joliot-Curie was a French physicist whose **discovery of artificial radioactivity** earned him the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which was jointly awarded to Frédéric and his wife Irène Joliot-Curie. Along with his wife, Frédéric is credited with founding the Orsay Faculty of Sciences, a physics and mathematics school within Paris-Saclay University. He had also won the Stalin Peace Prize*.*

32

Giovanni Domenico Cassini

(Astronomer and Mathematician)

Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the *Cassini Division*, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the **Académie des Sciences**.

33

Cédric Villani

(Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher)

23

5

*Fields Medal-*winning French politician and mathematician Cédric Villani works mainly on mathematical physics, partial differential equations and Riemannian geometry. He serves as Member of the National Assembly for Essonne's 5th constituency, after being elected during the 2017 legislative election. He was a member of **La République En Marche!** but defected later to form the political party **Ecology, Democracy, Solidarity**.

34

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

(Naturalist)

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopédiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishing *Histoire Naturelle*, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

35

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

(Chemist)

Known for his pathbreaking *Gay-Lussac's Law*, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the** Eiffel Tower**.

36

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

(Mathematician, Philosopher)

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with *d'Alembert's formula*, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, *D'Alembert's Principle.*

37

Vilfredo Pareto

(Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher)

20

5

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.

38

Emmanuelle Charpentier

(Researcher)

21

4

39

Claude Bernard

(Physiologist)

Claude Bernard was a French physiologist whose scientific experiments led to several important discoveries. He is credited with coining the phrase *milieu intérieur*, which refers to the extracellular fluid (ECF) environment. He also pioneered the use of a blinded experiment to eliminate various experimental biases.

40

Marquis de Condorcet

(Mathematician, Philosopher)

French mathematician and philosopher Marquis de Condorcet was a champion for liberal economy and women’s rights. He was a significant contributor of the *Encyclopédie* and was part of the **Academy of Sciences**. He is also remembered for his political activities in the wake of the French Revolution.

41

Charles Messier

(Astronomer)

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.

42

Charles Augustin De Coulomb

(Physicist, Eponymous discoverer of Coulomb's law)

French physicist Charles Augustin De Coulomb, remembered for laying down the *Coulomb’s law*, had previously been a military engineer in the West Indies. At the onset of the French Revolution, Coulomb, struggling with failing health, devoted himself to research. The unit of electric charge, *coulomb*, was named after him.

43

Paul Langevin

(Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer)

17

3

Best known for developing the *Langevin dynamics* and the *Langevin equation*, physicist Paul Langevin was also a staunch Communist. Having worked on his doctoral thesis under Pierre Curie, he had formed a connection with Curie’s wife, Marie Curie, which developed into a full-blown love affair after Pierre’s death.

44

Abraham de Moivre

(Mathematician, Statistician)

17

5

45

Andre Weil

(Mathematician)

French mathematician Andre Weil, who was also the brother of philosopher Simone Weil, is best known for his contribution to algebraic geometry. He also co-founded the *Bourbaki group*, consisting of mathematicians who collectively wrote using the pseudonym *Nicolas Bourbaki*. Weil took a keen interest in Hinduism and also learned Sanskrit.

46

Jacques Charles

(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)

16

4

Best known for developing the *Charles’s law*, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The **Académie des Sciences** member later became a professor of physics.

47

Gustave Le Bon

(Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist)

17

3

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work *La psychologie des foules*, or *The Crowd*, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

48

Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot

(Physicist and Father of Thermodynamics)

Son of French Revolutionary leader and mathematician Lazare Carnot, Sadi Carnot was an engineer in the French army. He later laid down the *Carnot cycle* of heat engines. Much of his works were buried with him when he died of cholera at 36, due to the contagiousness of the disease.

49

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont

(Chemist)

18

3

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont was the founder of the American gunpowder company **E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company **and the patriarch of the famous du Pont family of businessmen. Born in France, du Pont had escaped to the U.S. with his family during the French Revolution.

50

Augustin-Jean Fresnel

(Physicist)

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.