Famous scientists who made a difference in the world

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n-teslaNikola Tesla

A Serbian American scientist and inventor, Tesla made contributions to the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics and he was a well-regarded futurist. Initially working for Edison, he eventually set out on his own, developing laboratories and companies that focused on pursuits such as wireless lighting, wireless communication, the creation of the alternate current system of power, radio, X-ray experimentation, and even a biplane that could lift-off vertically. His legacy has endured among books, articles, compilations, films, radio, TV, comic books and even video games. His contributions are so extensive that those technologies invented or envisioned by Tesla endure as a recurring theme in science fiction.[i]

479px-franklin-benjamin-loc-headBenjamin Franklin

Most people know Ben Franklin for his contributions as a founding father of the United States, however, he also holds a role as a prolific scientist who is known for inventions such as the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove. His exploration of the natural phenomenon of electricity culminated in work that would lead to man’s mastery of electricity, perhaps the most profound change in the modern world since it would seem that almost every modern tool requires electricity in some fashion or another. Franklin also worked with other scientific theories such as wave theory of light, concept of cooling and oceanography.[ii]

220px-godfreykneller-isaacnewton-1689Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton considered himself to be a natural philosopher, which functioned as a modern physicist and mathematician. He was a key figure in the scientific revolution and published a book on classical mechanics. Other fields in which he made contributions include: optics, calculus, laws of motion, and universal gravitation, theory of colour and the visible spectrum, law of cooling, speed of sound, and he also contributed to the mathematical methods for determining the roots of a function and classifying cubic plane curves. His most influential contribution was by mathematically describing gravity by using planetary motion principles. This validated the scientific theory that the sun was the center of the solar system rather than the Earth.[iii]

edward_jenner-_pastel_by_john_raphael_smith-_wellcome_l0026138Edward Jenner

As an English physician and scientist, Jenner is known for developing the world’s first successful smallpox vaccine. He is often called “the father of immunology” and is credited with saving more lives than the work of any other human. The principles and theories upon which he based the smallpox vaccine have been applied to vaccines for countless other diseases worldwide. This has led to full or partial eradication of many illnesses which often claimed children as their victims.[iv]

marie_curie_c1920Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish and French physicist and chemist who pioneered research on radioactivity. She also became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize and the only woman to have had won the award twice across multiple scientific fields. Her contributions are known to have significantly contributed to the shaping of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries by overturning established ideas in physics and chemistry. Her discovery of radium and its radioactivity allowed for the further scientific probing of the atom. This has led to remarkable developments in the fields of medicine and physics. As a woman, she also had a profound effect on overcoming barriers that had previously prevented women from participating actively in the scientific realm.[v]

einstein-formal_portrait-35Albert Einstein

Einstein is arguably one of the most renowned scientists on this list as his name inevitably appears whenever discussing the world’s greatest scientists. He was a theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, which is one of two pillars of modern physics. He also developed the formula for mass-energy equivalence. He also works with photons and energy quanta, quantized atomic vibrations, and zero-point energy among other things. Additionally, he collaborated with others to produce a model of a wormhole, and developed the unified field theory and there is a whole branch of statistics he developed with Satyendra Nath Bose, called Bose-Einstein statistics. As a German refugee to America during Hitler’s rise to power, he worked with others on the Manhattan Project whose ultimate aim was the development of the nuclear bomb. His contributions in this one area alone were enough to significantly alter the course of history and combined with his other achievements it is clear he is one of the most prolific scientific geniuses to have ever lived.[vi]

nikolaus_kopernikusNicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus was a German scientist during the Renaissance. He first posited the theory that the sun was the center of the solar system rather than the Earth, a claim that was later proven by Newton. His publication detailing this claim is arguably his most famous work, although he also developed the quantity theory of money which is a key concept in economics as well as a version of something that later became known as Gresham’s law which basically describes the phenomenon of ‘bad money drives out good’ in commodity circulation. His scientific contributions led to the Copernican Revolution which is a major part of the larger scientific revolution.[vii]

gutenbergJohannes Gutenberg

No list of famous scientists would be complete without mentioning Johannes Gutenberg. He was a German blacksmith, printer and publisher whose greatest achievement was the introduction of mechanical movable type printing. This led to the Printing Revolution in Europe which is the widely regarded as the most important invention of the millennium. It is a defining moment in human history in which mass communication via printer word became widespread. This has allowed freedom of information and access to the information much more widespread than it had been previously. This permanently altered the very structure of society. Prior to this invention, all book production was done by hand.[viii]

Author: Rikki Roehrich

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