German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss is remembered for his work in math and science. Known as the Princeps mathematicorum, he laid down tenets such as the Gauss's Law. He had exhibited his talent since an early age and had completed writing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae by 21.
German theoretical physicist Max Planck is remembered for originating the quantum theory of physics, which earned him the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics. He laid down concepts such as the Planck constant and the Planck postulate. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was later renamed Max Planck Society in his honor.
This 17th-century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer is remembered for his pathbreaking work on optics. He invented a developed version of the refracting telescope. He also laid down Kepler's laws of planetary motion and wrote Astronomia Nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.
Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.
7 Max Born
Heinrich Hertz was a German physicist best remembered for proving the existence of electromagnetic waves with conclusive evidence. For his contributions, Hertz has been honored around the world by a number of countries, including Japan, Russia, and Germany. In 1930, the International Electrotechnical Commission established hertz (Hz) as the SI unit for frequency.
German-born American aerospace engineer and space architect, Wernher Von Braun, worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program as a young man. After World War II, he moved to the United States where he became a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the nation. In his later career, he became director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center.
10 Georg Ohm
Georg Ohm was a German mathematician and physicist. He is credited with discovering the proportionality between the voltage applied through a conductor and the subsequent electric current, which came to be known as Ohm's law. His work earned him the prestigious Copley Medal in 1841. A prolific writer, Georg Ohm published several papers and pamphlets throughout his career.
11 Klaus Fuchs
German theoretical physicist Klaus Fuchs worked on many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first nuclear weapons. He was also an atomic spy who provided information about nuclear weapons production to the Soviet Union during World War II. He was convicted and jailed for nine years, following which he resumed his career as a physicist.
A descendant of Pennsylvania founder William Penn through his mother, Hermann von Helmholtz studied medicine, pushed by his father, in spite of being interested in the natural sciences. Best known for his law of conservation of energy, he coalesced the fields of medicine, physiology, math, and physics in his studies.
Gustav Kirchhoff was a German physicist who is credited with coining the term black-body radiation. He is best remembered for his contribution to the basic understanding of spectroscopy, electrical circuits, and the emanation of black-body radiation. In 1862, he received the prestigious Rumford Medal. The Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award is named after Gustav Kirchhoff and German chemist Robert Bunsen.
John B. Goodenough is an American solid-state physicist and materials scientist. He is credited with developing the lithium-ion battery. In 2019, he became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize when he was honored with the prestigious award for his work on lithium-ion batteries. He is also a recipient of the Copley Medal and the National Medal of Science.
Karl Schwarzschild was a German astronomer and physicist. He is remembered for his contributions to the general theory of relativity; Schwarzschild came up with the first exact solution to the Albert Einstein field equations. He also contributed immensely to the theory of black holes.
German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld initially taught math and theoretical physics and later came to be known for his groundbreaking work on atomic and quantum physics and wave mechanics. He also laid down the magnetic quantum number. Many of the doctoral and post-doctoral students he supervised later won the Nobel Prize.
Hermann Klaus Hugo Wey is remembered for his contribution to both physics and math. He was one of the first scientists to think of merging the concepts of electromagnetism and relativity. He moved from the University of Göttingen to Princeton in the wake of the rise of the Nazi reign.
18 Rainer Weiss
Born to a doctor and psychoanalyst father and an actor mother in Berlin, physicist Rainer Weiss fled to the US along with his family, to avoid the Nazi terror. Associated with institutes such as MIT and Princeton, he invented the laser interferometric technique used in LIGO and even won a Nobel Prize later.
Rudolf Clausius was a German mathematician and physicist. He is credited with formulating the second law of thermodynamics; he is widely regarded as one of the principal founders of the science of thermodynamics. He taught physics at the Artillery and Engineering School in Berlin.
Johannes Stark was a German physicist who discovered the phenomenon that came to be known as the Stark effect. For this work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1919. A supporter of Adolf Hitler, he was a main figure in the anti-Semitic Deutsche Physik movement. He was found guilty by a denazification court in 1947.
Ernst Chladni was a German musician and physicist. He is often referred to as the father of acoustics for his research on vibrating plates; he came up with a method to observe and study the various modes of vibration. Ernst Chladni is also considered the father of meteoritics for his significant contribution to the study of meteorites.
Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer Hermann Oberth is regarded as one of the founding fathers of astronautics and rocketry along with Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, and Robert Goddard. His classic book The Rocket into Planetary Space gained him widespread attention. Oberth garnered a patent for his rocket design and launched his first rocket near Berlin, Germany, on May 7, 1931.
25 Wilhelm Wien
Wilhelm Wien was a German physicist famous for deducing what became known as Wien's displacement law. He is also credited with formulating an expression for the black-body radiation He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1911 for his work on heat radiation.
26 Hans Geiger
Gustav Fechner was a German physicist, philosopher, and experimental psychologist. A pioneer in the field of experimental psychology, Fechner is credited with founding psychophysics. Gustav Fechner inspired several philosophers and scientists like Jan Koenderink, David Heeger, and Farley Norman. In 1970, a crater on the Moon was named after him by the International Astronomical Union.
Gustav Ludwig Hertz was a German experimental physicist best known for his work on inelastic electron collisions in gasses, in collaboration with James Franck. They received the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics. Hertz worked at the University of Berlin and served in the military during World War I. He was a Member of the German Academy of Sciences.
29 Otto Stern
Otto Stern was a German-American physicist whose discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton and his contribution to the formation of the molecular ray method earned him the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physics. Otto Stern received 82 nominations for a Nobel Prize between 1925 and 1945, making him the second-most nominated person in the history of the Nobel Prize.
30 Max von Laue
Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Max von Laue is best remembered for his discovery that crystals cause diffraction of X-rays. He had initially assisted Max Planck and had later also contributed to quantum theory and the theory of relativity. He helped his fellow German scientists escape the Nazi regime.
Otto von Guericke was a German inventor, scientist, and politician. He made several significant contributions to the development of the Scientific Revolution. He is also credited with inventing the first air pump which he used effectively to study the phenomenon of vacuum. His studies and observation helped reveal the fact that light unlike sound can travel through a vacuum.
Karl Ferdinand Braun was a German electrical engineer, inventor, and physicist. He made significant contributions to the development of radio and TV technology. In 1909, he jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics with Guglielmo Marconi for their contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy. His work led to the later development of radar, smart antennas, and MIMO.
Joseph von Fraunhofer was a Bavarian optical lens manufacturer and physicist. He is credited with developing diffraction grating and inventing the spectroscope. He is also credited with discovering the Fraunhofer lines, the dark absorption lines produced in the spectrum of the sun. The Fraunhofer Society, Europe's biggest Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, is named in his honor.
Walther Nernst was a German chemist best remembered for his work in physical chemistry, thermodynamics, solid state physics, and electrochemistry. He is credited with formulating the Nernst heat theorem, which was in turn used in the formulation of the third law of thermodynamics. Walther Nernst received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 1920.
Along with his brother, Marcel Schlumberger, Conrad Schlumberger formed one of the most well-known geophysicist duos of Germany. A pioneer in petroleum production, he co-established Schlumberger Ltd., one of the world’s largest oil-field service companies, with Marcel. Their technique of oil exploration offered a cheap alternative than the existing coring methods.
36 James Franck
James Franck was a German physicist. Along with fellow physicist Gustav Hertz, he jointly received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1925. He had a prominent academic career and served as the director of the Second Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Göttingen. He later moved to USA and participated in the Manhattan Project during World War II.
41 Ernst Ruska
Ernst Ruska was a German physicist whose work in electron optics earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. His work led to the discovery of electron microscope, which plays a key role in the field of medical science. From 1957 to 1974, Ernst Ruska also worked at the Technical University of Berlin where he taught several students.
Friedrich Bessel was a German mathematician, astronomer, geodesist, and physicist. He was the first astronomer to use the method of parallax in order to determine the distance of a star from the sun. Bessel was a much-respected figure during his time. He was honored with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
German physicist Wilhelm Weber is remembered for inventing the first electromagnetic telegraph, along with Carl Friedrich Gauss. The Copley Medal-winning scientist had also taught at the universities of Göttingen and Leipzig. The SI unit of magnetic flux, formerly known as the coulomb, was later named the weber in his honor.