Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with formulating Heliocentrism, which led to the Copernican Revolution. Although Aristarchus of Samos had formulated Heliocentrism 18 centuries earlier, Copernicus was responsible for popularizing it. Copernicus is also credited with formulating an economic principle, which was later called Gresham's law.
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was a scientific instrument maker, inventor, and physicist. One of the most prominent and influential personalities of the Dutch Golden Age of science and technology, Fahrenheit is credited with many important inventions, including the mercury-in-glass thermometer and Fahrenheit scale. His inventions helped shape the history of thermometry.
Polish-American medical researcher Albert Bruce Sabin is best-remembered for developing oral polio vaccine which is easier to give and more effective than earlier polio vaccine. His vaccine has remained instrumental in the ongoing effort of eradicating polio. Other vaccines developed by Sabin include the ones for encephalitis and dengue. He served as President of Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Polish mathematician-cryptologist Marian Rejewski is noted for reconstructing the sight-unseen German military Enigma cipher machine and solving Enigma-machine cipher using limited documents that the French military intelligence managed to obtain. He and his colleagues developed and applied methods and equipment for decrypting the German machine ciphers which gave Britain an opportunity to read German Enigma-encrypted messages during Second World War.
Hilary Koprowski was a Polish virologist and immunologist. He spent the majority of his career in USA and created an effective live polio vaccine. He also contributed significantly to the development of an improved rabies vaccine. He was the author or co-author of over 875 scientific papers. He was the recipient of many awards, including the Albert Sabin Gold Medal.
Polish mathematician Alfred Tarski initially taught at Warsaw and later moved to the US, where he joined the University of California, Berkeley. Known for his research on topics such as algebra, logic, and set theory, he has also been the doctoral supervisor of mathematicians such as Julia Robinson and Bjarni Jónsson.
Raised by foster parents, Stefan Banach ended up getting an engineering degree. During World War I, his eyesight rendered him unfit for military service, and so he taught at schools. He later gained fame for his pioneering research on functional analysis and also helped develop the concept of the Banach space.
Stanislaw Ulam was a Polish-American scientist best remembered for his expertise in the fields of nuclear physics and mathematics. He played an important role during the Second World War, working together with other scientists and mathematicians in the Manhattan Project. He is also credited with originating the Teller–Ulam design, the basis for all thermonuclear weapons.
Johann Gottfried Galle was a German astronomer who worked at the Berlin Observatory. On 23 September 1846, he became the first person to view and recognize the planet Neptune. The discovery of Neptune is considered one of the most significant moments of 19th-century science and is widely regarded as a validation of celestial mechanics.
Joseph Rotblat was a physicist remembered for his work on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II. He left the laboratory on grounds of conscience and his work on nuclear fallout played a key role in the events preceding the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 1995, Joseph Rotblat won the Nobel Peace Prize.
German mathematician Leopold Kronecker is best remembered for his pioneering work on the theory of equations and algebra. Interestingly, he wasn’t too keen on academic research initially and focused on his land business, while simultaneously pursuing math as a hobby. He could only focus on math after retiring at 30.
Born in a small Polish village, Ignacy Mościcki grew up to become a chemist, an academic, and a researcher, before he stepped into politics. He later served Poland as its longest-serving president. Initially a supporter of Polish dictator Józef Piłsudski, he became more liberal after Piłsudski’s death.
Polish mathematician and statistician Jerzy Neyman is remembered for pioneering theoretical statistics and also taught at prestigious institutes such as UCB and UCL. The National Medal of Science winner established the theories of estimation and hypotheses testing, which have been widely used in areas such as medicine and genetics.
Known for his pioneering contribution to the make-up industry in Hollywood and for his revolutionary products such as Supreme Greasepaint, Max Factor Sr. was a Polish Jew, who moved to the US in the early 1900s. He founded his own brand of cosmetics, popularized the word “make-up,” and won an honorary Academy Award.
Born in Moscow, Polish economist Leonid Hurwicz initially studied law but fled to the US during World War II. He was later associated with the MIT, among other prestigious institutes, and won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering contribution to the mechanism design theory.
Johannes Hevelius was an astronomer who is credited with describing 10 new constellations; seven of ten constellations described by him are used by astronomers today. He is also referred to as the founder of lunar topography for making a compilation of an atlas of the moon. He is also credited with making a comprehensive catalog of 1,564 stars.
One of the pioneering figures of the Polish school of mathematics, Wacław Sierpiński made revolutionary contributions to point-set topology. He withheld an award-winning essay on number theory, so that it could be printed in Polish instead of Russian. He spent most of his life teaching at the University of Warsaw.
While German mathematician Felix Hausdorff initially wished to become a musician, parental pressure led him to choose math. Considered one of the pioneers of modern topology, he made major contributions to set theory and functional analysis. He died of suicide, along with his wife and sister-in-law, instead of moving to a Nazi camp.
Jon Lech Johansen is a Norwegian programmer best known for his work on reverse engineering data formats. He is credited with writing the DeCSS software, a free computer program which has the ability to decrypt content on a DVD video disc. A self-trained software engineer, Jon Lech Johansen was honored with the EFF Pioneer Award in April 2002.
One of the pioneers of the European oil industry, Ignacy Łukasiewicz was a Polish pharmacist who not only invented the kerosene lamp but also co-established the first petroleum extraction company and invented Europe’s first modern street lamp. As an affluent man, in his later years, he also became a prominent philanthropist.
Georges Charpak was a physicist whose invention and development of the multiwire proportional chamber earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992. He is also credited with co-founding several companies, including SuperSonic Imagine and Molecular Engines Laboratories. Over the course of his illustrious career, Georges Charpak was also honored with other awards, such as the Golden Plate Award.
Leo Sternbach is remembered for his revolutionary discovery of tranquillizers, including Valium and Librium. Born to a pharmacist father, he first studied pharmacy and then organic chemistry. He had a life-long association with Hoffmann-La Roche and ended up with 241 patents and over 100 scientific publications.
Joanna Rutkowska is a Polish computer security researcher. She is best known for her research on stealth malware and low-level security. She is the founder of the Qubes OS security-focused desktop operating system and Invisible Things Lab. She is the author of several popular books on systems trustability, including Intel x86 Considered Harmful and State Considered Harmful.
Jerzy Buzek is a Polish politician who served as the Prime Minister of Poland from 31 October 1997 to 19 October 2001. An influential politician, Buzek also served as the President of the European Parliament from 14 July 2009 to 17 January 2012. In 1998 and 2009, political weekly Wprost named Jerzy Buzek Person of the Year for his achievements.
Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Klaus von Klitzing is best known for his revolutionary discovery of the integer quantum Hall effect. With his work, he developed the path for precise measurement of electrical resistance and inspired further research on the conducting properties of electronic components. The von Klitzing constant was named in his honor.
Ferdinand Cohn was a German biologist who is credited with co-founding microbiology and modern bacteriology. Apart from publishing more than 150 research reports, Cohn also made significant contributions to the field of botany. He was also the first person to classify algae as plants. Ferdinand Cohn received the prestigious Leeuwenhoek Medal in 1885.
Kazimierz Kuratowski was a Polish mathematician who was one of the leading representatives of the Warsaw School of Mathematics. He studied engineering and obtained his Ph.D. in 1921. He went on to pursue a successful academic career as a professor of mathematics at Lwów Polytechnic in Lwów. He helped establish the State Mathematical Institute after World War II.
Alexander Imich was a Polish-American parapsychologist, chemist, writer, and zoologist. A supercentenarian, Imich was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest man in the world. He enjoyed this privilege for around 1.5 months before passing away on June 8, 2014, at the age of 111. Sakari Momoi of Japan succeeded Alexander Imich as the world's oldest man.
Władysław Turowicz was a Polish-Pakistani aviator, aeronautical engineer, and military scientist. After World War II, Turowicz decided to move to Pakistan due to the political situation in Poland. He then played a major role in building the Pakistan Air Force (PAF); his efforts inspired a 2008 documentary film. Władysław Turowicz remains a highly respected figure in Pakistan.
Ewald Georg von Kleist was an 18th-century German jurist and physicist. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Leipzig and the University of Leyden. He served as the dean of the cathedral at Kamień Pomorski in the Kingdom of Prussia for over two decades, after which he was appointed the president of the royal court of justice in Koszalin.
Apart from being a Catholic priest, Michał Heller is also a mathematical cosmologist and a professor. The Templeton Prize-winner was born in Poland, but he later fled with his family to the USSR, to escape the Nazis, and lived in Siberian labor camps. His current research deals with general relativity.
Antoni Zygmund was a Polish mathematician who specialized in the area of mathematical analysis. He is regarded as one of the greatest analysts of the 20th century. He was a co-founder of the Chicago school of mathematical analysis. He was a member of several scientific societies and the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 1986.
Swiss chemist Tadeusz Reichstein is remembered for his Nobel Prize-winning research on the hormones of the adrenal cortex. He also taught pharmaceutical chemistry and organic chemistry at the University of Basel and independently discovered the synthesis of vitamin C. At 99, he was the oldest-living Nobel laureate until his death.
Polish astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan is best known for co-discovering extrasolar and pulsar planets. He started developing an interest in astronomy at age 7 and later worked at Cornell and Princeton, eventually gaining a teaching position at the Pennsylvania State University. He has won several awards, such as the Bohdan Paczyński Medal.
Stanisław Staszic was a Polish philosopher who played a leading role in the Polish Enlightenment. He was also a Catholic priest, geologist, writer, and translator. He supported many reforms in Poland and was the co-founder of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning. He later served as the minister of trade and industry in Congress Poland.
Best remembered for discovering mitosis, or cell division, in plants, Polish-German botanist Eduard Adolf Strasburger also worked on the research already begun by German botanist Wilhelm Hofmeister. He taught at the universities of Warsaw and Jena and also won the Linnean Medal and the Darwin-Wallace Medal.
Ignacy Domeyko was a Polish geologist, educator, and mineralogist. He is credited with founding one of Chile's oldest public universities, the University of Santiago, Chile (Usach). After the Polish–Russian War 1830–31, he settled in Chile where he made significant contributions to the study of Chile's geology, geography, and mineralogy. Ignacy Domeyko’s observations helped shape Chile's labor movement.
German botanist Adolf Engler is remembered for his plant classification system. One of his best-known works include the 23-volume The Natural Plant Families. He was also a pioneer in the study of phytogeography, or botanical geography. He won the prestigious Linnean Medal for his achievements.
German mathematician Martin Kutta was known for his association with reputed institutes such as the University of Stuttgart and RWTH Aachen as a professor. He is perhaps best known for co-developing the Runge–Kutta method, which paved the way for solution of differential equations numerically.
Stanisław Leśniewski was a Polish mathematician, philosopher, and logician, who belonged to the first generation of the Lwów–Warsaw School of logic. His major contribution to mathematics was the construction of three nested formal systems: protothetic, ontology, and mereology. He was also a radical nominalist. He died shortly before the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
Witelo was a 13th-century Polish friar, theologian, and natural philosopher. He was an important figure in the history of philosophy in Poland. He studied at Padua University. He described the reflection and refraction of light in 1284. His major surviving work on optics, Perspectiva, was based on the work of the polymath Alhazen. Many of his works didn't survive.
A theoretical physics professor at the Freie Universität Berlin, Hagen Kleinert is known for his over 400 papers on topics such as mathematical physics. The Max Born Prize- winner has made major contributions to path integrals and the theory of strings. He is married to author Annemarie Kleinert.
Bohdan Paczynski was a Polish astronomer. He was well known for his work in the theory of stellar evolution, accretion discs, and gamma ray bursts. He studied astronomy at the University of Warsaw and embarked on a brilliant academic career. He became the youngest member of the Polish Academy of Sciences at the age of 36.
Włodzimierz Kuperberg is a mathematician and topologist. Born in Poland, he moved abroad due to the anti-semitic atmosphere in his native land. He built a successful academic career, eventually becoming a professor of mathematics at Auburn University. He is married to fellow mathematician Krystyna Kuperberg. The couple’s son, Greg Kuperberg, is also a professional mathematician.
Karl Ludwig Hencke was a German amateur astronomer. He discovered several minor planets and two asteroids from his private observatory. As a young man, he volunteered in the Wars of Liberation for Prussia but was wounded. After that, he became a post official, later on serving as the city court judge in his city of birth.
Ludwig Gross was a Polish-American virologist who discovered two different tumor viruses capable of causing cancers in lab mice. Ludwig Gross was the recipient of many prestigious awards such as the R.R. de Villiers Foundation Award for Leukemia Research, Bertner Foundation Award, and William B. Coley Award.
Antoni Grabowski was a Polish activist and chemical engineer. A well-known and respected figure in the field of chemical engineering, Grabowski is remembered for a multitude of technological innovations and inventions. Antoni Grabowski also played a significant role in the development of Esperanto, the most widely spoken international auxiliary language.