Some Famous Scientists
Archimedes (about 287 B.C.-212 B.C.), Greek mathematician and inventor who discovered that heavy objects could be moved using pulleys and levers. He was one of the first to test his ideas with experiments. He also is said to have shouted "Eureka!" ("I have found it!").
Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), a self-taught clockmaker and astronomer, who was the grandson of a slave. He is also known for his work as an architect and a designer of Washington, D.C.
Tim Berners-Lee (1955- ), a British computer whiz who radically changed the history of computing and communication when he invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Since then he has worked to make the web grow as a source of information about everything under the sun. He works at a laboratory in Massachusetts.
Rachel Carson (1907-1964), U.S. biologist and leading environmentalist whose 1962 book Silent Spring warned that chemicals used to kill pests were killing harmless wildlife. Eventually DDT and certain other pesticides were banned in the U.S.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943), born in Missouri of slave parents, became world-famous for his agricultural research. He found many new and nutritious uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes, and taught farmers in the South to rotate their crops in order to increase their yield.
Francis Crick (born 1916) and Maurice Wilkins (born 1916) of England and James D. Watson (born 1928) of the United States, who worked out the structure of DNA, the basic chemical that controls inheritance in all living cells.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), a Polish scientist known as the founder of modern astronomy. He came up with the theory that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun. At the time most people thought Earth was the center of the universe, and not much attention was paid to his theory.
Marie Curie (1867-1934), a Polish-French physical chemist known for discovering radium, which is used to treat some diseases. She won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1911. She and her husband, Pierre Curie, also won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 for their work in radiation.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), a British scientist who is best known for his theory of evolution by natural selection. According to this theory, living creatures, by gradually changing so as to have the best chances of survival, slowly developed over millions of years into the forms they have today.
Thomas Edison (1847-1931), Ohio-born inventor who only attended school for three months, he created devices that transformed society, such as a reliable electric lightbulb, the electric generator, phonograph, wireless telegraph, motion-picture projector, and alkaline, iron-nickel batteries.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), a German-American physicist who developed a revolutionary theory about the relationships between time, space, matter, and energy. He won a Nobel Prize in 1921.
Gertrude Belle Elion (1918-1999), U.S. chemist who played a key role in developing several important drugs. Her research led to the development of many drugs, including those to fight leukemia, malaria, and the HIV virus that causes AIDS. She never earned a PH.D., but she received many honorary degrees and, in 1988, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Michael Faraday (1791-1867), a British scientist who discovered that magnets can be used to create electricity in copper wires. Faraday's discoveries enable us to produce massive amounts of electricity.
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), British chemist whose X-ray photographs played a key role in determining the "double helix" structure of DNA. After helping determine the structure of DNA, Franklin turned her attention to viruses and made inportant discoveries there too.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian astronomer and physicist who established basic principles of physics. Using a telescope he built, he observed the moons of Jupiter and craters on our Moon. He agreed with Copernicus that the Earth moves around the Sun.
Jane Goodall (1934- ), British scientist who is a leading authority on chimpanzee behavior. Goodall discovered that chimpanzees use tools, such as twigs to "fish" for ants. She also found that chimpanzees have complex family structures and personalities. Today, Goodall writes books, creates movies, and speaks publicly as an advocate for the preservation of wild habitats.
James Harris (1932- ), Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who co-discovered elements 104 and 105 at the University of California, Berkeley, and pushed to finish the periodic table.
Stephen Hawking (1942- ), British physicist and leading authority on black holes--dense objects in space whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape them. Hawking has also written best-selling books, including A Brief History of Time (1988) and The Universe in a Nutshell (2001).
Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a British doctor who discovered a way to prevent smallpox by injecting healthy people with cowpox vaccine. Today's vaccines work in a similar way.
Rederick Jones (1892-1961), changed our eating habits by inventing refrigerated trucks, eliminating the problem of food spoilage. It also allows for transporting blood long distance, which makes medical operations much safer.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), German astronomer who developed three laws of planetary motion. He was the first to propose a force (later named gravity) that governs planets' orbits around the sun, and he invented a form of mathematics that led to calculus.
Leakey, a family of British paleontologists--Louis (1903-1972), Mary (1913-1996), and Richard (born 1944)--who discovered and studied fossil remains of early human ancestors in Africa. Mary's discovery in 1959 of a skull 1.7 million years old brought them worldwide fame. She continued her work after her husband Louis's death, and their son, Richard, followed in their footsteps.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), British mathematical genius who is considered the first computer programmer. She designed a "language" for the first computing machine (invented by Charles Babbage), and published important papers on the theory behind analytical engines.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978), U.S. anthropologist whose groundbreaking study of Samoan culture, Coming of Age in Samoa, was a best-seller in 1928. In it, she concluded that culture had a big influence on human behavior.
Lise Meitner (1878-1968), physicist who first discovered nuclear fission. She helped find the element protactinium, and later predicted the chain reaction, which eventually led to the development of the atomic bomb, along with other nuclear energies.
Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884), an Austrian monk who discovered the laws of heredity by showing how characteristics are passed from one generation of plants to the next.
Louis Eugene Neel (1904- ), a French physicist who discovered that certain materials that do not conduct electricity can still be magnetized. This enabled the development of the silicon computer chip and other communications devices. His work on magnetism also led to the theory of plate tectonics
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), a British scientist famous for many revolutionary discoveries. He worked out the basic laws of motion and gravity. He also showed that sunlight is made up of all the colors of the rainbow. He invented the branch of mathematics called calculus, but he kept this discovery quiet. Soon after, a German philosopher and mathematician named Gottfried von Leibniz (1646-1716) also worked out a system of calculus, and made it widely known.
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), a French chemist who discovered a process called pasteurization, in which heat is used to kill germs in milk.
Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), Austrian-American physicist who invented a rule of physics called the exclusion principle. It says that two electrons cannot occupy the same energy state in an atom at the same time. This principle helps explain why objects do not blend into each other. In 1931, he proposed the existence of a tiny particle, called a neutrino. Scientists confirmed 25 years later that it exists.
Linda Spilker (1955- ), space scientist who is deputy project scientist for the current Cassini mission to Saturn. The Cassini orbiter is expected to orbit Saturn for several years, measuring and recording data on Saturn, its rings, and its 34 known moons. "Saturn's rings have always fascinated me," Spilker says. "Now I can bring some of the new ring data back to earth."
Paul Sereno (1957- ), American paleontologist who has traveled over much of the world to discover and study early dinosaur fossils. His research has helped explain dinosaur evolution and behavior.