All the technologies that make our lives easier, all the medicines and medical equipment that save us, and indeed all of our understanding of the world itself are the result of the tireless efforts of all those scientists who spent thousands of hours inventing and discovering these things. Humanity shall forever be indebted to the invaluable contributions made by all these great minds. Presented below, is a list of some of the world’s greatest and most famous scientists, in no particular order, along with brief descriptions of the things they invented/discovered.
Archimedes (287 – 212 BC)
A very versatile personality, Archimedes was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer, engineer, and a very successful inventor. He was popular for his ingenious thinking, and was responsible for developing many innovative machines. He is best known for formulating the method for finding the exact volume of an irregularly shaped object.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and philosopher. He is known as the father of modern observational astronomy, the father of modern physics, and also the father of modern science. From among his several inventions and discoveries, Galileo is best known for his contributions to astronomy. Using the telescope, he was able to confirm the phases of planet Venus, discover and document the four largest satellites of planet Jupiter, which have been named as Galilean moons in his honor, and also observe and analyze sunspots. He even championed the theory of a heliocentricism, at a time when most of the world supported geocentricism.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726)
Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential scientists of all time. He played a key role in the development of calculus, and through his extensive study of light, made the first practical reflecting telescope, a technology which till date is used to study the heavens. But perhaps the most important and famous of his discoveries was that of gravity. Newton was able to, not only describe why an apple fell towards the Earth rather than fly away from it, but also provide the mathematical basis for this theory, and describe the motion of objects. His discoveries went on to lay the foundation of classical mechanics, and are considered to be some of the most significant contributions to the world of physics.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931)
Among the numerous inventions of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prominent one is the electric bulb, which is still used today to light up our nights. Apart from that, he also invented a number of useful instruments, including the telegraph devices, phonograph, carbon transmitter, direct current generator, gramophone – which was the improved version of the phonograph, the dictating machine, universal electric motor, besides many others.
Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955)
Sir Alexander Fleming worked in the army medical corp in the First World War, where he witnessed many soldiers die from sepsis resulting from infected wounds. He began actively searching for antibacterial agents, until he discovered the drug penicillin, which revolutionized modern medicine science, by becoming the world’s first antibiotic.
Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867)
Michael Faraday was an English physicist, who made some of the most significant contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and electro-chemistry. Although his formal education was scarce, through extensive research and experimentation, he was able to discover the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and then put forth the laws of electrolysis. He invented the electromagnetic rotary devices, which laid the foundation for the development of the electric motors, which today are the main workhorses of most industries.
Alexander Graham Bell (1857 – 1922)
It was during his experiments with the telegraph that Alexander Graham Bell thought up the concept of the telephone, which, without a question, is one of the most useful inventions of all time. Bell himself, however, considered the telephone to be intruding, and did not have a telephone at his place of work.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Albert Einstein was a German theoretical physicist, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest minds of modern times. He was wholly responsible for the development of the modern theory of gravity, and partly responsible for the development of quantum mechanics, both of which are the pillars of modern physics. His special and general theories of relativity have captured the minds of the scientific community for decades, and are thought to be so complex that very few people are able to actually grasp their full extent. Einstein is best known for his equation E=mc2, which gives the relation between energy and mass, and forms the basis of atomic energy generation.
Frederick Banting (1891 – 1941)
He started with his education in politics, but ended up shifting to medicine. He completed his MD in the year 1916, and served as a doctor in World War I, attending to many wounded soldiers. Banting’s real interest was in diabetes and its cure, which he worked on with another scientist named Dr. Charles Best. He discovered the hormone insulin, and became the first person to successfully use it on humans.
Stephen William Hawking (1942 – present)
Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, as well as the Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology in the University of Cambridge. From the age of 21, Hawking has been suffering from a slow-progressing form of ALS, which has gradually paralyzed him over the years. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most famous scientists of modern times. He collaborated with Roger Penrose, and proposed the gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity. He later went on to predict that black holes emitted radiation, a phenomenon which has been named Hawking radiation, in his honor. He was also the first to try to explain cosmology, by a unification of general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.