10 Greatest Physicists that Lived and Their Contributions to the Field

Greatest Physicists that Lived

Physics is a specialty that explores the properties of matter, energy, time, and the fundamental laws of space. Physics is one of the college majors that helps us understand the world around us. There are a number of physicists who have impacted our understanding of the universe through their major discoveries.

The physicists explore the aspects of matter and energy; some focus on researching the basic laws of nature while others are experts in designing machines and equipment used in various industries. Physicists just like any other scientists also share their research, ideas, and new theories through writing patents and as well as by publishing their research papers.

Some of the greatest physics scientists 

1. Sir Isaac Newton

Isaac newtonSir Isaac Newton was a mathematician, astronomer, and an English physicist; he is one of the most famous and influential scientists; this is due to his contributions to various fields in the universe. Some of his contributions include:

  • Sir Isaac Newton was the first scientist who invented the first successful reflecting telescope .he reduced color distortion in magnified objects by the use of curved mirrors.
  • He published his work on Opticks in which he summarized his findings on color and light .moreover he stated that the sunlight is composed of all colors of the rainbow. Sir Newton also explained how sunlight can be separated and how it can be recombined using glass prisms.
  • He also published his work on Principia; which included three laws of motion namely the law of acceleration, the law of inertia, and the law of action and reaction. These three laws were the major contributions of mechanics and explained how forces affect the motion of objects.
  • Moreover, Sir Isaac Newton devised the law of gravitation; which stated that all objects with mass can attract other objects .this law was used to explain the orbits around the sun and the tidal forces caused by the moon and the sun.

2. Galileo Galilei 

Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei was an Italian, physicist, astronomer, and natural philosopher; who is known for pioneering the ideas and observations in physics and as well in astronomy. The major contribution of this scientist to physics is the concept of inertia. Inertia is the tendency of an object to stay in its original state of motion unless an external force is applied.

By using an inclined plane and a small metal ball Galileo slowed the falling motion of the object and hence he formulated the concept of free fall and the effect of friction. He was able to measure the acceleration of metal balls accurately; the scientists concluded that without air resistance all objects would accelerate toward the earth at the same rate. Moreover, the scientist made a major contribution to astronomy through his invention of a telescope. He observed the moon’s rough surface, the phase of Venus, and sunspots.

3. Marie curie

Marie curieMarie Sklodowska Curie was a naturalized Italian chemist and physicist; she has given the name the mother of modern physics due to her contribution to radioactivity. She received a Nobel prize in physics in 1903 together with her husband due to their contributions to radioactivity.

in her experiments, Marie curie concluded that radioactivity does not necessarily depend on the arrangement of the atoms but on the atoms themselves. Marie and her husband discovered two radioactive elements; radium and polonium in the year 1898. In world war I 1 Marie promoted the use of X-rays on the battlefield .moreover this scientists developed mobile x-ray units that helped surgeons to x-ray the wounded soldiers on the battlefield before operating them.

4. Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman Richard Feynman is a well-known American physicist; who is known due to his excellent physics lectures and his work on quantum electrodynamics. Richard is one of the most known theoretic scientists. This scientist developed Feynman diagrams that were two-dimensional; he received a Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in quantum physics.

 Quantum electrodynamics was a quantum theory that visualized the interactions and forces between charged particles and the electromagnetic field. Apart from electrodynamics Richard also worked on superfluidity and quantum gravity. Moreover, Feynman is well known as an excellent teacher and the influential lectures that he delivered.

5. James clerk 

 James clerk was a scientist who published his theory on electromagnetism in the year 1864; in his theory, this scientist argued and explained that in the electromagnetic field light, magnetism and electricity are all manifestations of the same phenomena. James clerk was born in 1831 in Edinburg; his theory on electromagnetism is of significance in the field of magnetism. It is through the theory of James clerk that radio, radar, and television were developed.

6. Albert Einstein 

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein published a paper on special relativity; stating that the speed of light is always constant. Moreover, at the speed of light, the mass is infinite and time stands still. In 1916 he published his general theory of relativity which stated that gravity is an effect of the curving of time and space. The theory of Albert Einstein is one of the three theories that best refine our knowledge of the universe. Therefore this scientist remains to be the greatest physicist for the originality of thought.

7. Neils Bohr 

Neils is known for formulating the theory of atomic structure; the scientists discovered that an atom has a nucleus at the center with electrons revolving around it. He also explained how electrons emit energy as they move from one energy level to another. Moreover, Neils Bohr also played a huge impact in the birth of quantum mechanics. In 1922, Neils Bohr was awarded a Nobel prize in physics; he was also awarded a special gift by Carlsberg brewery due to his achievements.

8. Michael Faraday 

Michael Faraday Michael Faraday was a self-educated scientist who worked under the patronage of an English chemist in Humphry Davy. The physicist is famous due to his discovery of the law of electrolysis. Michael was a man of dedication to exploration and is known for his relentless pursuit of scientific advancement. He was a much-respected scientist of his time. 

9. Earnest Rutherford 

Earnest Rutherford Earnest is a New Zealand-based scientist who is well known for his experimental physics that discovered radioactive half-life. Rutherford clearly explained and showed that radioactivity involved a transmutation of one chemical element to another. In 1911 he demonstrated that the nuclei of atoms house their masses; he also discovered the proton in 1920.

During his leadership at Cambridge University, in 1932 James Chadwick discovered the neutron Rutherfordium that was named after him.

10. Paul Dirac 

Paul Dirac Paul Dirac is a scientist that predicted the existence of antimatter; which are particles having an equal but opposite electric charge to their counterparts. He won a Nobel prize in 1933 however he still remains an Edwardian geek; a character that made Einstein say to him that his balancing a path between genius and madness is awful.




Physicists have made a major contribution to the world at large; there is no doubt that all the scientific discoveries and inventions have revolutionized our day-to-day life. Through our scientists, we are able to understand how various objects and forces work. There are many recognized and award-winning physicists that have contributed to the advancement of the discipline of physics; above are the 10 greatest physicists throughout history and their contributions to the world. 

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