Top 10 physicists of all time

Updated on 11 May, 2012 at 10:58 am


Physics deals with analyzing all of nature to help us better understand the universe that we live in. Besides being one of the oldest quests of man, knowing and understanding how things work is a basic need of the world as it is today. Physicists everywhere have always tried to answer the questions of how and when our universe started off and what really makes it tick. Great theorists, experimentalists and thinkers have molded the shape of our world as it exists today with the help of their theories and experiments. Although most people wouldn’t think of it but a lot of the technology that comes alive is given birth to by theorists who make the breakthroughs through observation and calculation. Let us now look at top 10 physicists of all time and look at what their contributions are in shaping the macro and the micro world in which we so casually live in. 


10. Werner Heisenberg:

Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist who made significant contributions to many areas of physics. His theoretical work makes up the base for one of the most important cogs in quantum theory, the uncertainty principle. He was born on the 5th of December 1901 and died on the 5th of February 1976. For his contributions to physics he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1932. Besides pioneering the work behind the Uncertainty Principle he has also made significant contributions in the areas of nuclear physics, particle physics and quantum field theory.


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Top 10 physicists of all time: Werner Heisenberg

9. Ernest Rutherford:

Ernst Rutherford is known to the world as the father of nuclear physics. He was born on the 30th of August 1871 and died on the 19th of October 1937 in New Zealand. His contribution to chemistry is also significant and he received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1908. His gold foil experiment was the first practical splitting of an atom and he also discovered one of the basic sub atomic particles namely the proton.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Ernest Rutherford

8. Paul Dirac:

Paul Dirac was an English theoretical physicist who laid the foundations for more than one study of physics. In his lifetime which spanned from 8th August 1902 to 20 October 1984 he held many positions across many esteemed universities around the world. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize in physics along with Erwin Schrodinger for their work in the formulation of one of the earliest version of the atomic theory. He also formulated a famous equation known as the Dirac Equation and has also contributed significantly to the discovery on anti matter.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Paul Dirac

7. Erwin Schrodinger:

Erwin Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist and is widely considered one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. His most famous work is the Schrödinger equation which describes how the state of a physical system behaves with respect to time. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1933. He also proposed the famous cat thought experiment which is one of the most elaborate as well as accurate thought experiments to exist in the realm of all science. He was also awarded the Max Planck Medal in 1937 which is awarded for outstanding contributions in theoretical physics.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Erwin Schrodinger

6. Richard Feynman:

Richard Feynman was born on the 11th of May 1911 and died on the 15th of February 1988 in the United States. He was one of the best known scientists and theoretical physicist of his time and is also rated as one of the top ten physicists of all time with a wide consensus. The most significant of his contributions are in the areas of particle physics, quantum electrodynamics and he has also laid the foundation stones for quantum computing and nanotechnology. He shared the Nobel Prize for physics with 2 other scientists for his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Richard Feynman

5. James Clerk Maxwell:

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish physicist who is best known for his work in the area of classical electromagnetic theory. His work helped unite electricity, magnetic and optics into a single theory through a set of equations that are known as Maxwell’s Equations. This work is one of the most significant contributions to physics as we know it. He is also credited with laying the foundations of quantum mechanics. He was born on the 13th of June 1831 and died on the 5th of November 1879.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: James Clerk Maxwell

4. Michael Faraday:

Faraday was a British born scientist, chemist and physicist who lived from 22 September 1791 to 25 August. He discovered the magnetic field and also discovered electromagnetic induction. Some of his experiments in physics and chemistry are regarded as the most groundbreaking work ever done in a lab anywhere and anytime. Although he did not have much higher education, he was highly intuitive and his powers of observation were unreal.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Michael Faraday

3. Max Planck:

Max Planck was a German physicist who is known as the father of quantum theory which initiated a revolution in physics as it existed. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contributions to quantum physics in 1918. He was a highly respected and looked upon physicist in his lifetime and one of the greatest honors in theoretical physics known as the Max Planck medal is named after his excellent contributions. One of his most important contributions was the Planck’s constant which is one of the most important equation constants in theoretical physics.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Max Planck

2. Isaac Newton:

Isaac Newton was an English scientist who is considered as one of the greatest men of science to have walked this earth. His contributions to the many branches of science that he delved into need no mention. His work with physics lays the foundation for classical mechanics and he formulated a theory that seemed to explain how our universe worked. He was also among the first to show that gravity was a significant force in our universe and that the earth was not the center of the universe.

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Top 10 physicists of all time: Issac Newton

1. Albert Einstein:

German born Albert Einstein is one of the most well known names in science. One of the most famous equations of all time, which is known as the equivalence of mass and energy otherwise simply known as E = mc2. He is often known as the father of modern physics as his contributions in the field of relativity have shaped the way modern physics has come to be. His discoveries and theories were way ahead of his time and it took the world a good number of years to understand them. Even today we are still delving into the wonderful possibilities that Einstein’s theories opened up to the world.


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Top 10 physicists of all time: Albert Einstein