Great Scientists and Inventors

They weren't all household names, that's why I changed the heading above to "Great" instead of "Famous". I started prefacing the descriptions with "Great" but realized they were ALL great, that's why they're here! My criteria for them being "great" is that I knew of their accomplishments, and to me WERE household names. I began with physicists only but could not in good conscience not include non-physicists like Euler (mathematician) or Crick (biologist). Further, though Thomas Edison was inventor, I would have added him just for what he's best known for. I had to include engineers and industrialists as well. Someday I hope to have more than just a one line description, because the accomplishments of some of these people would fill a page.

Physicist pictures are copyright California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the American Institute of Physics.

One of the greatest of all: Richard Feynman

Click on colorized name tag for Picture

Unless described otherwise, the scientists are physicists.
Alpher, Ralph  Predicted the background radiation in space, the result of the Big Bang
Alvarez, Luis  Helped develop geiger counter, bubble chamber, variable focus spectacles.  He used cosmic xrays to show that an Egyptian pyramid had no undiscovered chambers, and that only one killer was involved in the Kennedy assassination.   With son Walter, wrote book about the killer comet/asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65M years ago.  Nobel 1968
Anderson, Carl  Discovered positron, thus confirming the presence of antimatter.   Nobel 1936
Ampere, Andre French mathematician and physicist did pioneering work on electricity and magnetism.  The unit of electric current , the ampere, is named after him.
Angstrom, Anders  Wrote papers on optics, predicted hydrogen in sun.  Angstrom unit, for measuring the wavelength of light is named after him.
Archimedes  Mathematician, the most celebrated of the ancients and one of the greatest of all times.  Invented the Archimedian screw for raising water, discovered formulae for areas and volumes of spheres, parabolas, cylinders, and other plane and solid figures.  Founded the science of hydrostatics of which his Principle (buoyancy) is well known.   Though he was Greek, the Romans knew him to be a great man and ordered that he be spared, but a soldier who did not recognize him killed him in a siege.
Avogadro, Amedeo Italian, theorized that gases of the same volume at the same temperature must contain the same number of molecules.  This is called Avogadro's Law.  Avogadro number named for him.  6.023 x 10E23 is one mole, the number of molecules in a substance.
Baade, Walter  
Bacon, Francis  
Babbage, Charles English mathematician and inventor, made calculator called Analytical Engine.
Bardeen, John  
Baird, John Logie The only real important engineer here...he invented television.  Scottish.
Becquerel, Henri  French physicist discovered radioactivity in 1896
Bell, Alexander Graham Scottish-American-Canadian inventor of the telephone.  His descendants still live on family estate in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
Benz, Karl German inventor designed first car powered by an internal combustion engine
Bernoulli, Daniel  
Bethe, Hans Director of Atomic Bomb project at Los Alamos.  Nobel winner 1967
Biro, Lazlo Invented the ball point pen
Bohr, Niels His new model of the atom revolutionized physics. Nobel winner 1922.  To me, one of the top 10 scientists of all times.  Danish scientist applied quantum theory to Rutherford's structure of the atom.
Bohr, Aage Son of Niels.  Developed another model of the atom based on father's work.  Nobel 1975
Boltzmann, Ludwig Black body radiation,  viscosity work, Boltzmann's Constant in kinetic energy calcs
Born, Max Showed that state of a particle could only be predicted in terms of probabilities. Nobel 1954
Bothe, Walther Shared Nobel with Born, improved on scintillation counting, first discovered neutron
Boyle, Robert Irish scientist, formulated Boyle's Law that the pressure and volume of a gas are inversely proportional.
Braun, Wernher Von German engineer, pioneer in rocket building.  Worked on V2 for Germans, then on the mighty Saturn V rocket that put man on the moon.
Brattain, Walter  
Carlson, Chester American inventor of the photocopier. 
Cavendish, Henry English chemist and physicist, discovered hydrogen, and estimated the weight of the earth.
Chadwick, James Identified Bothe's radiation as due to neutrons, which he named. Nobel 1935. Knighted 1945.
Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan Has a satellite named after him.  Worked on theory of white dwarf and neutron stars.  Nobel 1983.
Cerenkov, Pavel Blue light that is generated when water is irradiated is called Cerenkov Radiation  
Copernicus, Nicolaus Polish astronomer developed the theory that planets moved around the sun, not the other way around.
Coulomb, Charles Coulomb's Law, torsion balance, SI unit of electrical charge named after him
Crick, Francis English biologist, who with James Watson, discovered the structure of DNA, from Xray photos taken by Rosalind Franklin.
Curie, Marie Polish scientist did much work on radiation, discovered radium.  Died from radiation poisoning
Curie, Pierre  
Dalton, John English chemist who suggested that elements are made of atoms which combine to make compounds
Darwin, Charles English naturalist who first suggested that species evolve and change by natural selection.
Davey, Humphry  
Dirac, Paul  
Eddington, Arthur Astronomer, proved Einstein's theories were correct
Edison, Thomas Physicist and inventor, the most prolific the world has ever seen.
Einstein, Albert German born physicist who published Special and General Theory of Relativity
Euler, Leonhard  
Faraday, Michael English scientist who invented the dynamo, generating electric current by spinning a coil in a magnetic field.  Everyone using alternating current (AC) in the world owes this guy a lot.
Fermat, Pierre de Fermat's Last Theorem
Feynman, Richard Great American scientist, to whom I dedicate all my scientific endeavors
Fermi, Enrico Italian physicist was the first to control nuclear energy in a nuclear reactor.
Found, Bob Won nothing, discovered nothing, but I have a lab and love and promote science.  Biggest accomplishment?  The following two entries!
Found, Christine My daughter, MSc in Biology. Works for California Water Commission
Found, Rob My son, PhD in biology, studying wolves in Ontario
Franklin, Benjamin American scientist, worked to explain electricity
Gabor, Dennis
Galileo Galilei Astronomer, scientist made many discoveries.  He proved that all falling bodies descend with equal acceleration.  His studies of planetary motion supported Copernican theory that planets moved around the sun.
Gamow, George  
Gauss, Carl  
Gell-mann, Murray  
Gilbert, William English physicist, doctor to Queen Elizabeth I, founded study of magnetism.  First to suggest that earth itself had a magnetic field.
Glashow, Sheldon  
Goddard, Robert American scientist who did much work in field of rocketry, proving a liquid propellant was feasible. NY Times called him a quack. 
Godel, Kurt  
Gold, Thomas  
Goodall, Jane Studied gorillas in Africa
Hale, G.E. American astronomer, Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar named for him.  
Hann, Otto German chemist, who, with Fritz Strassman discovered nuclear fission
Halley, Edmund Halley's Comet
Harvey, William English doctor who discovered how blood circulates through the body.
Hawking, Stephen English physicist who has advanced the understanding of the origin of the universe.  Specialized in black hole theory. Wrote Brief History of Time
Heisenberg, Werner  Architect of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle.  Great German scientist
Helmholtz, Hermann  
Henry, Joseph  
Herschel, Caroline Sister to William, did important work assisting her brother
Herschel, William British astronomer and telescope maker, discovered Uranus and infrared radiation
Herschel, Frederick  
Hertz, Heinrich German physicist demonstrated existence of radio waves.  The frequency term Hertz (Hz) is named after him.
Herzberg, Gerhard  
Hooke, Robert English physicist discovered relationship between elasticity and force, called Hooke's Law
Hoyle, Fred  
Hubble, Edwin Hubble telescope named for him.  Proved the existence of galaxies beyond our own. Hubble Law and Hubble's Constant
Huygens, Christiaan Dutch physicist and astronomer invented first accurate pendulum clock, recognized Saturn's rings and was the first person to suggest that light travels in waves.
Jansky, Karl  
Jenner, Edward Discovered vaccination, protected boy from smallpox by injecting him with cowpox
Jobs, Steven The marketing genius behind everything Apple: iPad, iPhone
Joliot-Curie, Frederic  
Joliot-Curie, Irene  
Joule, James English physicist who did important work on heat, and established the principle of conservation of energy.  The joule, a unit of work and energy is named after him.
Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) British physicist and mathematician who did important work in thermodynamics and established the absolute temperature scale whose units are named after him.
Kepler, Johannes German astronomer, discovered the laws of planetary motion
Kerr, Roy Patrick  
Kilby, Jack St.Clair  
Kirchhoff, Gustav  
Kuiper, Gerard  
Landau, Lev  
Laplace, Simon de I hated this guy in college (Laplace Transforms)
Lavoisier, Antoine French lawyer and scientist named oxygen and hydrogen and explained the role of oxygen in combustion.
Leibniz  Co-dicoverer of calculus with Newton.  Newton published first.
Lawrence, Ernest  
Leakey, Louis  
Leakey, Mary  
Leewenhoek, Antoni Dutch scientist who was first to examine bacteria, sperm and blood cells with a microscope
Leibniz, Gottfried  
Lemaitre, Georges Belgian physicist, mathematician, priest who first suggested the Big Bang Theory
Linnaeus, Carolus Swedish botanist introduced the method of classifying living things into genus, species and other sub-divisions
Lister, Joseph English surgeon, first to carry out antiseptic operations
Lorentz, Hendrik  
Lovelace, Ada English mathematician worked on Babbages Analytical Engine, devising programs which anticipated computer programming.
Lovell, Bernard  
Lowell, Percival  
Lumiere, Auguste  
Mach, Ernst "mach" number named after him.  Mach 1 is speed of sound
Maiman, Theodore American scientist built the first laser
Marconi, Guglielmo Italian physicist developed radio telegraphy, sending signals across Atlantic in 1901
Maxwell, James Clerk  Great Scottish scientist.  His equations used by Einstein.  Established the presence of electromagnetic radiation.
Meitner, Lise Austrian physicist explained nuclear fission for the first time.  Worked with Otto Hann
Mendel, Gregor An Austrian monk and naturalist who developed the laws of heridity
Mendeleyev, Dmitri Developed the Periodic Table of the Elements
Messier, Charles  
Michelson, Albert  
Millikan, Robert  
Minkowski, Hermann  
Mobius, August  
Mohorovicic, Andrija  
Morley, Edward  
Moseley, Harry  
Napier, John  
Newton, Isaac Rated Number 2 as the most influential person of the millenium.  The King of all Scientists! Formulated the laws of gravity and motion, discovered light made of spectrum of colors and built the first reflecting telescope.  Also invented calculus.
Nobel, Alfred Swedish chemist invented dynamite, founded the Nobel Prize.
Oersted, Hans  
Ohm, George Ohm's Law which I use EVERY day.  German physicist who researched electrical resistance.  The unit of resistance, the ohm, is named after him.
Oort, Jan OOrt cloud
Oppenheimer, Robert Leader of the Manhattan Project (the atomic bomb project) at Los Alamos
Osler, William  
Pascal, Blaise  
Pasteur, Louis  
Pauli, Wolfgang Pauli Exclusion Principle
Pauling, Linus  
Peebles, Philip  
Peierls, Rudolf  
Peltier, Jean  
Penrose, Roger  
Penzias, Arno  
Planck, Max Planck's constant
Poincare, Jules  
Priiestley, Joseph  
Pythagoras  
Rabi, Isidor  
Raman, Chandrasekhara  
Ramsay, William  
Rayleigh, John W.  
Rees, Martin  
Riemann, Bernhard  
Rontgen, Wilhelm  
Rutherford, Ernest  Great New Zealand scientist, worked at McGill University.  Phenomenal physicist.
Sagan, Carl  
Schrodinger, Erwin  
Schwarzschild, Karl  Schwarzchild radius of black holes
Schwinger, Julian  
Seaborg, Glen  
Segre, Emilio  
Shockley, William  
Szilard, Leo  
Teller,Edward  
Tesla, Nikola Gave us alternating current, made BIG sparks
Thomson, J.J. Discovered the electron
Tomonaga, Sin-Itiro  
Townes, Charles  
Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin  
Turing, Alan  
Ulam, Stanislaw  
Van Allen, James Van Allen radiation belts named after him 
Van de Graff, Robert Experiments with static electricity, Van de Graff Generator 
Volta, Alessandro Unit of "volts" named after him 
Von Braun, Wernher  
Von Neumann, John  
Watt, James  
Weinberg, Steven  
Wheeler, John A.  
Wigner, Eugene  
Wilson, Robert