About Scientists

This page contains extensive links to the biographies and ideas of some of the most influential scientists.   Scroll down and click on the name of the scientist to go to the section of this page where web links can be found.


Chronological Index of Selected Scientists

Euclid Pythagoras Aristotle Eratosthenes Archimedes
Ptolemy Galen Al-Khwarizmi Al-Kindi  
Bacon Copernicus Brahe Bruno Kepler
Galileo Descartes Boyle    
Newton Leibniz Fermat Lavoisier Watt
Babbage Dalton Faraday Maxwell  
Darwin Rontgen Thompson Curie  
Einstein Rutherford Bohr Hubble  
Heisenberg Schrodinger Godel Fermi  
Oppenheimer Teller Watson Crick Gell-Man
Hawking Dawkins Kauffman Gamow  

Euclid -- c. 330BCE? to 260 BCE?

Brief useful references about this ancient Greek mathematician can be found in the Oxford University of Science <http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=487989&secid=.-&hh=1 > and the Oxford English Reference Dictionary <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/487989>.

Euclid is famous for his great work Elements of Geometry covering plane geometry, the theory of numbers, irrationals, and solid geometry. Note that Euclid's work was the standard until other kinds of geometry were discovered in the 19th century and makes up part of the core of basic mathematics still used today. He also developed the axiomatic method of reasoning.

An excellent biography coupled with a useful overview of the early history of mathematics with links to other early Greek mathematicians can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.: <
http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Euclid.html >.

To Index

-- c.560 BCE to c.480 BCE

Pythagoras was interested in mathematical principles, the number concept, the concept of mathematical figures and the abstract idea of a proof. He made remarkable contributions to the mathematical theory of music and was a said to be a very good musician.

An excellent biography and overview of Pythagoras' contributions and works -- including his realization that irrational numbers exist -- from St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Examine this extremely useful biography of Pythagoras from Eric Weinstein at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Pythagoras.html>.

A brief biography of Pythagoras can be found at the Faculty of Sciences, Central University of Venezuela.
<http://euler.ciens.ucv.ve/English/mathematics/pitagora.html >

This site from Bellview Community College has a brief note of history on Pythagoras and a proof of the theorem.
<http://scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/math/Pythagoras.html >

Click here to go to a number of theorem proof sites that can be of interest.

To Index

Aristotle -- 384 BCE to 322 BCE, considered the father of life sciences.

Aristotle believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe, with the sun and the planets orbiting around it. The stars, unchanging and eternal, were solidly attached to a crystal sphere beyond the planets. Aristotleís n atural philosophy saw Nature as orderly, hierarchical, and teleological.

"Aristotle, more than any other thinker, determined the orientation and the content of Western intellectual history. He was the author of a philosophical and scientific system that through the centuries became the support and vehicle for both medieval Christian and Islamic scholastic thought: until the end of the 17th century, Western culture was Aristotelian. And, even after the intellectual revolutions of centuries to follow, Aristotelian concepts and ideas remained embedded in Western thinking." -- Biography in Encyclopaedia Britannica

An excellent biography and overview of Aristotle's contributions and works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K. where the above quotation originates:

Another excellent biography and summary of Aristotle's accomplishments, including Life, Writings, Logic, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Nature, The Soul and Psychology, Ethics,Politics and Art is provided courtesy The University of Tennessee at Martin:

A brief biography <http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~rsauzier/Aristotle.html> from San Francisco State University.

From Guide to Philosophers -- an excellent historical overview and list of works

From Epistemelinks.com -- an excellent selection of links

See also "The Ancient City of Athens" where Aristotle lived:

To Index

Eratosthenes -- 276 BCE to 194 BCE

Eratosthenes was an early interdisciplinary intellectual and served as librarian at Alexandria. He studied prime numbers, calculated the circumference of the Earth and the tilt of the Earth's axis ( both with great accuracy), the distance to the moon and the sun, , a calendar that included leap years, the foundations of a systematic chronography of the world and a star catalogue containing 675 stars -- no insignificant list of achievements. All of this can be found here:

An excellent brief biography and explanation of Eratosthenes' major works is located at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

A brief biographical overview and links to some of his discoveries can be found at Albertson College <http://www.albertson.edu/math/History/emacy/Classical/biography.htm>.

To Index

Archimedes -- 287BCE to 212 BCE

Archimedes is thought of as one of the three greatest mathematicians of all time, along with Isaac Newton and Carl Friedrich Gauss. He was famed for his mechanical inventions, especially what became known as his "engines of war", but pure mathematics was his passion. He derived formulae for the ratio of the radius of a circle to its circumference, as well as for surface and volume. One of his most famous discoveries is what was later called the Archimedes principle [1], [2] (do you ever understand something and shout, "Eureka"?). He also invented compound pulley systems, the planetarium and a shaft-driven water pump still used today has been attributed to him (the Archimedes screw),

An excellent brief biography and explanation of Archimedes' major works is located at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Another wonderful site about Archimedes with many links and references can be found at Drexel University.

To Index

, Claudius -- approx. 85 CE to approx. 165 CE

Following Aristotle, Ptolemy created an astronomical system where the sun, planets, and stars revolved round the Earth which was the foundation of the medieval world picture. The Ptolemaic view was accepted until Copernicus devised the heliocentric system. Ptolemyís work on astronomy and navigation remained a textbook until superseded by the discoveries of the 15th century.

An excellent brief biography and explanation of Ptolemy's contributions and major works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Brief bibliographic overview and summary of contributions, this time from The University of Arizona.

To Index

Galen of Pergamum -- 23 CE to 79 CE

By performing extensive dissections and vivisections on animals, Galen studied the muscles, spinal cord, heart, urinary system, and proved that the arteries are full of blood. A brief introduction to the knowledge context of Galen and his contributions to our understanding of the human circulatory system, thanks to TimeLineScience, can be found here:


To Index

Al-Khwarizmi, Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa -- 770 to 840 C.E.

Al-Khwarizmi was an Islamic scholar who influenced mathematical thought more than any other mediaeval writer. His book on algebra, Al-Maqala fi Hisab-al Jabr wa-al- Muqabilah, was translated into Latin in the 12th century, and it was this translation which introduced this new science which had been completely unknown till then to the West. His astronomical tables were also translated into European languages and, later, into Chinese.

A high-quality overview of Al-Khwarizmi's contributions can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.<http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Al-Khwarizmi.html>

Another brief but high-quality biography can be found at <http://members.tripod.com/~wzzz/KHAWARIZ.html>.

To Index

Al-Kindi, Abu Yusuf Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Sabbah -- approx. 801 CE to 873 CE

An Islamic scholar, Al-Kindi was influenced most stro ngly by the writings of Aristotle but other philosophers such as Plato can also be seen in al-Kindi's ideas. An informative biography can be found at <http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Al-Kindi.html>, St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

To Index

Bacon, Francis --1561 CE to1626 CE

An excellent overview of Bacon's life and his primary contributions can be found in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, University of Tennessee at Martin:

Another good biographical overview can be found, with the tull text of The Advancement of Learning (1605) (books I and II), at:

Biographical overview, dates of Bacon's major accomplishments from the Galileo project, Rice University.

A good biographical overview with emphases on his advancement of the philosophy of science from the Radical Academy is located at:

To Index

Copernicus, Nicolas -- 1473 CE to 1543 CE

Copernicus provided the first impulse to question Aristotle's world view when he showed in 1543 that the movement of the planets were better explained if the sun was the center for the Earthís and the planetsí movements.

Copernicus' complete biographical time-line can be found at the Nicolas Copernicus Museum in Frombork, Poland:

An excellent biography and overview of Copernicus' contributions and works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.:

See also, "The Copernican System," at Rice University.

To Index

Brahe, Tycho -- 1546 CE to 1601 CE

Tycho Brahe was the first scientist to show that the sphere of stars was not at all unchanging, when he in 1572 observed the strong light from a supernova, and could prove that this was  far beyond the planets. He went on to develop a number of new astronomical instruments, and together with his assistants on the island of Hven, he carried out a great number of astronomical observations with a precision that had never been achieved before.

Here is the extremely informative and complete official Tycho Brahe website: <http://www.tychobrahe.com/>.

Another excellent biography and summary of Brahe's contributions and works can be found at Rice University.

To Index

Bruno, Giordano -- 1548 CE to 1600 CE

Excellent biography and overview of Bruno's contributions and works. Remember he was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600! This is from Rice University:

To Index

Kepler, Johannes --1571 CE to 1630 CE

Kepler was a strong supporter of the heliocentric theory of Copernicus and the discoverer of the three laws of planetary movement. He worked for Tycho Brahe, and it was in part their relationship that allowed him to disvover these three laws. An excellent biography can be found at <http://euler.ciens.ucv.ve/english/mathematics/ > (click on "Kepler, Johannes") from the Faculty of Sciences, Central University of Venezuela.

Kepler was a man of firsts, some of which are listed here -- to correctly explain planetary motion; to explain the principles of how a telescope works; to investigate the formation of pictures with a pin hole camera; to explain the process of vision by refraction within the eye; to formulate eyeglass designing for nearsightedness and farsightedness; to explain the use of both eyes for depth perception.

Another excellent biography and overview of Kepler's contributions and works is provided by St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

NASA's Kepler Mission page [1] contains an excellent biography and overview of Kepler's accomplishments: <http://www.kepler.arc.nasa.gov/johannes.html>.

Find out about the relationship between Kepler and Brahe, and how "the Mars problem" led him to discover elliptical planetary orbits here: <http://www.space.com/searchforlife/kepler_and_mars_010604-1.html>

Rice University provides another excellent biographical source on Kepler:

To Index

Galileo Galilei --1564 CE to CE 1642

Galilei was the first astronomer to use the telescope, and could with its help show new relationships in the universe, such as Jupiter having its own moons and that the solar activity was varied. Galilei also formulated the foundation for modern physics. His inventive and inquiring scientific mind can be seen in his invention of the air thermoscope.

Brief biography, good example of conformity enforcement. Good description of his life and excellent links to other related web links. St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Institute and Museum of the History of Science of Florence, Italy. Describes his inventions using graphical content, demonstrates diversity of his ideas Strong multimedia emphasis on his mechanical inventions <http://galileo.imss.firenze.it/museo/4/index.html>

The Galileo Project, Rice University <http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/>. Excellent biographical overview, historical links, summaries of Galileo's conflicts with the church, his contributions and works <http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/Resources/galileo_links_tc.html>.

You can trace Galileo's entire life from beginning to end right here, also from Rice University:

Very brief biography, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, University of Tennessee at Martin.

To Index

Descartes, René -- 1596 CE to 1650 CE

Descartes was a scientific philosopher who developed the theory of mechanical philosophy. This philosophy was highly influential until replaced by Newton's advances in explicit scientific methodology. Descartes believed that God created the universe as a perfect clockwork mechanism of vorteces that functioned deterministically without interventio and that that matter had no inherent qualities, but was simply the "brute stuff" which occupied space. Descartes was the first to make a graph permitting geometric interpretation of a mathematical function and gave his name to Cartesian coordinates . He is famed for the mind-body distinction, scepticism and "I think, therefore I am."

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a complete overview of Descartes' contributions in science, philosophy and religion <http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/d/descarte.htm>.

From St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K., an excellent biography and overview of Descarte's contributions and works.

A succinct and excellent biography with very useful links can be found at Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Descartes.html>.

Courtesy the On-line Literature Library, here is the full text of Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences: <http://www.literature.org/authors/descartes-rene/reason-discourse/>.

To Index

Boyle, Robert -- 1627 CE to 1691 CE

Boyle is famed for Boyle's Law (pV = constant) <http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=486076 >.

An excellent interactive web page illustrating Boyle's Law, from Davidson College, N.C.: <http://www.chm.davidson.edu/ChemistryApplets/GasLaws/BoylesLaw.html>.

Excellent biography and overview of Boyle's contributions and works. St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Also see gas laws [1], [2].

To Index

Newton, Sir Issac -- 1643 CE to 1727 CE

Sir Isaac Newton wrote in a letter to his colleague Robert Hooke dated 5 February 1676, "[i]f I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants", meaning that he had been able to achieve such a great deal only because of what he had learned from the work of those who had preceded him.

It is generally agreed that Newton contributed more to the development of science than any other individual in history and was the greatest single influence on theoretical physics until Einstein. He generated an overarching conceptual framework for understanding the universe which was more consistent, elegant, and intuitive than any developed before. His work far surpassed the achievements of the great scientific minds of antiquity. Newton developed improved methods of astronomical observation [1], [2] and stated explicit principles of scientific methods [1], [2], [3] which applied universally to all branches of science (see induction, deduction, inference, syllogism).

The basic principles of scientific investigation set down by Newton have persisted virtually without alteration until today.

Newton created the most important and influential works on physics of all times, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) (1687), often shortened to Principia Mathematica or simply "the Principia."

Newton formulated the classical theories of mechanics (see: Newton's universal law of gravitation [1 ], [2 ] and laws of motion ) and optics and invented calculus years before Leibniz (but Newton did not publish his own material until after Leibniz had published his).

Biography provides an excellent biography <http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=6205 >.

A succinct and excellent biography with very useful links can be found at Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Newton.html>.

An encyclopaedic reference to Sir Issac Newton can be found at the Oxford Xrefer site:
<http://www.xrefer.com/entry/220746> which includes many useful cross-references.

Another excellent biography and overview of Newton's contributions and works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Also see <http://euler.ciens.ucv.ve/english/mathematics/>, Faculty of Sciences, Central University of Venezuela -- go to "Newton, Sir Isaac" for an excellent biography.

Also see empiricism, skepticism,

To Index

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von --1646 CE to1716 CE

Leibniz was self-taught in mathematics, but nonetheless developed calculus independently of Newton. His notation was by far superior (including the integral sign and derivative notation) and is still in use today.

Leibniz was a universal genius and has been called one of the primary founders of modern science. An excellent biography and overiview of Leibniz's contributions and works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

An encyclopaediac reference on Leibniz can be found at the Oxford xrefer site: <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/494769> which includes many useful cross-references.

Also see <http://euler.ciens.ucv.ve/english/mathematics/>, Faculty of Sciences, Central University of Venezuela -- go to "Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von" for an excellent biography

To Index

Fermat, Pierre de -- 1601 CE to 1665 CE

Although he pursued mathematics as an amateur, Fermat's work in number theory was of such great quality that he is generally regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians of all times.

An excellent biography and overview of Fermat's contributions and works can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

A highly-detailed description of Fermat's work, including some of his letters in French, can be found at University of Dublin, Trinity College, School of Mathematics:

Also see Fermat's Last Theorum (1), (2), solved at last by Wiles in 1995, some 330 years after Fermat's death.

To Index

Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent -- 1743 CE to 1794 CE

Here <http://www.chemheritage.org/EducationalServices/chemach/fore/all.html> is an excellent introductory biography of Lavoisier from the Chemical Heritage Association 'Achievers' web site which introduces his principal contributions to modern chemistry -- the rebuttal of the phlogiston theory of heat; that matter is conserved through any reaction; the understanding of combustion and respiration as caused by chemical reactions with a part of air he called "oxygen"; and that water is made of oxygen and hydrogen.

This page leads to other excellent biographies, stories and reviews of Lavoisier's contributions, including the following:

Lavoisier's Friends: an exceptionally complete and detailed resource:

Sports Science History Maker: Lavoisier

Chemical Revolutionary Executed! Phlogiston Debunker Beheaded

Remember: "It took them only an instant to cut off that head, and a hundred years may not produce another like it." -- Joseph-Louis Lagrange, commenting on Lavoisier's execution by guillotine.

To Index

Watt, James -- 1736 to 1819

Watt was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer who is famed for his improvements of the Savery and Newcomen 's steam engine. Many people are unaware that Watt did not invent the steam engine. A brief biography of Watt from Encarta can be found here . Watt also devised the unit "horsepower" and the metric unit of power is named after him.

A more detailed biography can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of Scientists <http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=495335&secid=.-&hh=1>.

Also see Industrial Revolution [1], [2], [3], [4].

To Index

Babbage, Sir Charles -- 1792 CE to 1871 CE

Charles Babbage was a polymath and has been called -- most would say quite rightly -- the father of the modern computer. In many ways he was a man far ahead of his time. He created word-puzzle dictionaries, researched differential and integral calculus, invented the locomotive cow-catcher and the speedometer, totally despised the noise of street musicians, loved railroads and railway technology and did mathematical work to help set up the British postal system. For 11 years he was also Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

Human error and general public ignorance about science strongly frustrated Babbage. He is best known for his work in designing and attempting to build three mechanical computers to overcome human failings in calculation. Although he had minor success with his first simpler efforts, he never lived to see the more complex of his "analytical engines" completed. Based on Babbage's original designs, in 1991 the Science Museum in London built a full-sized version of one of Babbage's last mechanical computers which has worked ever since.

A brief biography can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of Scienctists at the Xrefer site: <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/493956>.

More comprehensive, high-quality bibliographies on Babbage can be found at the Charles Babbage Institute <http://www.cbi.umn.edu/exhibits/cb.html> and the Virginia Polytechnic's site: <http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Babbage.html>.

Also see History of Computing [1], [2].

To Index

Dalton, John -- 1766 CE to 1844 CE

Based on empirical evidence, Dalton developed the atomic theory of matter which was the basis of much of the chemistry done in the rest of the 19th and early 20th century.

From the Chemical Heritage Association 'Achievers' web site, a good introductory bibliography including a presentation of Dalton's 'Table of Elements and their Combinations':

From the TimeLine of Science, a simple introductory bibliography: <http://www.timelinescience.org/resource/students/matter/dalton.htm>.

From WebQuest, a basic introduction to thinking about atomic theory, including a bit of history about Democritus (400 BCE) who speculated upon (but could derive no empirical evidence for) what he thought to be the indivisible constituent parts of matter, which he called "atomos," and the 2000-year hiatus in this type of thinking until John Dalton appeared: <http://www.chemheritage.org/EducationalServices/webquest/dalton.htm>.

To Index

Darwin, Charles -- 1809 CE to 1892 CE

Sir Charles Darwin is one of the most famous naturalists to have lived within the past 150 years, so it is no wonder that many biographies for him can be found on the web. Two are listed below.


The Natural History Museum, London, U.K., has a full centre devoted to Charles Darwin which is worth a visit. It can be found here: <http://www.nhm.ac.uk/darwincentre/>.

From the On-Line Literature Library, here are four full-text items, including Origin of Species [1], [2], The Voyage of the Beagle and The Descent of Man (still incomplete on-line). Here is another on-line version of The Voyage of the Beagle from the Zoologisk institutt in Bergen, Norway [in English].

Here is a fine site entitled "Charles Darwin and the Galapagos".

To provide a good context for the work of Darwin, the University of California, Berekely, has an excellent site on Evolution Theory and Science <http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/evotheory.html>, including a clickable 300-year time line of evolutionary thought.

You may wish to examine The Journal of Syms Covington, assistant to Charles Darwin on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle.

Questions are raised about Charles Darwin as a scientist and writer. What do you think?

Also see BBC's ApeïMan, adventures in human evolution [1], [2].

To Index

Faraday, Michael -- 1791 CE to 1867 CE

Faraday was an inveterate experimenter and collector but was not a mathematician. He discovered that a magnet suspended over a wire conducting electricity would revolve, leading him to envision magnetic force as circular. He also discovered magnetic optical rotation, invented the dynamo for converting electricity to motion, discovered electromagnetic induction and developed the laws of electro-chemistry. Most importantly, Faraday's work led to others' mathematical theories of electricity and magnetism. In particular, Maxwell's theoretical work would not have been possible without Faraday's experimentation and discovery of various laws.

An excellent biography of Faraday can be found through the Groups, Algorithms and Programming page at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.

Another excellent brief biography can be found at Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Faraday.html>.

To Index

Maxwell, James Clerk -- 1831 CE to 1879 CE

Maxwell extended and mathematically formulated Michael Faraday's theories of electricity and magnetic lines of force. Independent of Ludwig Boltzmann, Maxwell developed the Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases which demonstrated that only molecular movement was associated with temperatures and heat. He also developed the idea of "Maxwell's Demon" (1 ), (2 ), (3 ), (4 ). Maxwell's work created the foundation for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's investigations . Maxwell also calculated that the propagation speed of an electromagnetic field is approximately that of the speed of light and proposed that the phenomenon of light is therefore an electromagnetic phenomenon.

An excellent biography can be found at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K. <http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Maxwell.html>.

Another excellent brief biography can be found at Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Maxwell.html>.

To Index

Röntgen, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen --1845 CE to 1923 CE

Röntgen was a keen naturalist, dedicated scientist, inventor and experimenter. He did extensive work on cathode rays which led him to the discovery of X-rays. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1901 "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him".


To Index

Thomson, Sir Joseph John --1856 CE to 1940 CE

Based on a scientific career investigating gases and the structure and characteristics of atoms, Sir John Thomson is famed for his discovery of the electron. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1906 "in recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases". Thomson also developed the earliest form of mass spectroscopy. His son (GP Thompson) also received the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that the electron had wave and particle properties. Seven of his research students also received Nobel Prizes.

An excellent biography of his life and achievements can be found at the Nobel e-Museum at:

An excellent exhibit on Thomson's discovery of the electron from the American Institute of Physics can be found here: <http://www.aip.org/history/electron/>.

To Index

Curie, Marie Sklodowska -- 1867 CE to 1934 CE

Marie Curie was the first person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element". The first Nobel prize (1903) for the discovery of the phenomenon of radioactivity was in physics, shared with her husband Pierre and Henri Becquerel; the second Nobel prize (1911) was in chemistry for the discovery of the radioactive elements polonium and radium.

From the Chemical Heritage Association 'Achievers' web site, here is an excellent biograhpy with links to very good additional resources:

Also see Curie's excellent Nobel e-Museum biography at:

Here is an excellent exhibit on Marie Curie and radioactivity from the American Institute of Physics: <http://www.aip.org/history/curie/>.

To Index

Einstein, Albert -- 1879 CE to 1955 CE

Although he did much of his most famous theoretical work while merely a third class technician at the Bern patent office, there is probably no physicist whose name has become so widely known as that of Albert Einstein. It is no wonder that TIME Magazine named him "person of the century " (meaning the 20th Century, of course).

Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics 1921 "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". Einstein contributed more than any other scientist to the 20th-century understanding of physical reality, especially in terms of the general and special theories of relativity [1], [2], Brownian movement and quantum theory. His law of the photo-electrical effect gave him the Nobel Prize and is the basis of quantitative photo-chemistry, but Einstein is much more well-known for his relativity theories [3 ], [4 ]. Stephen Hawking does a first-rate job of explaining the relativity achievement and provides an excellent biography of Einstein here .

A thorough bibliography of Einstein is provided by St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.
<http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Einstein.html >.

An excellent biography of Albert Einstein can be found at the Nobel e-Museum at
<http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1921/einstein-bio.html >.

A biography relating Einstein to the Manhatten Project can be found through The Nuclear Files <http://www.nuclearfiles.org/rebios/einsteinalbet.html >.

Another excellent biography at <http://euler.ciens.ucv.ve/english/mathematics/> (click on "Albert Einstein") is available from the Faculty of Sciences, Central University of Venezuela.

A comprehensive compendium of web-based resources about Albert Einstein can be found here <http://www.westegg.com/einstein/ >.

The NOVA website supporting the video "Einstein Revealed" contains excellent links to further resources.

This good overall biography is from -- where else? -- Biography.

Albert Einstein has been quoted very frequently.

Here is an excellent exhibit on Einstein from the American Institute of Physics <http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/> with many detailed links.

To Index

Rutherford, Ernest --1871 CE to 1937 CE

Rutherford received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1908) "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances".

Rutherford's investigations into the scattering of alpha rays and the nature of the inner structure of the atom which caused such scattering led to the postulation of his concept of the "nucleus", his greatest contribution to physics. Rutherford was the first person to deliberately transmute one element into another.

An excellent biography of Rutherford can be found at the Nobel e-Museum at
<http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1908/rutherford-bio.html >

To Index

Bohr, Niels Henrik David -- 1885 CE to 1962 CE

Niels Bohr received the Nobel Prize in Physics (1922) "for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them".

Working from concepts in quantum theory and incorporating improvements from Heisenberg's ideas (1925), Bohr created a picture of atomic structure that still largely describes the physical and chemical properties of the elements.

An excellent biography of Bohr can be found at the Nobel e-Museum at
<http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1922/bohr-bio.html >

To Index

Hubble, Edwin Powell --1889 CE to 1953 CE

Based on empirical telescopic evidence, Hubble observed many galaxies beyond our own receding at great speed in all directions and demonsrating galactic red shifts, thus confirming the idea of an expanding universe. He discovered a linear relationship between the velocity of receding galaxies and their distance from the Earth, developing Hubble's Law (also see: Hubble Parameter) and calculated the approximate size and age of the observable universe. Every current cosmological model now incorporates the concept of expansion of the universe.

Through xrefer, an excellent biography and summary of Hubble's achievements <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/494608 > is provided by the Dictionary of Scientists, Oxford University Press.

If you are intrigued with the idea of an expanding universe, you might wish to check this article from Scientific American, and this column on 'the big crunch' from the Stanford University Report.

To Index

Heisenberg, Werner -- 1901 CE to 1976 CE

One of the founders of the quantum theory, he is best known for his uncertainty principle , or indeterminacy principle, which states that it is impossible to determine with arbitrarily high accuracy both the position and momentum (essentially the velocity) of a subatomic particle such as the electron. For this work he won the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen".


An excellent exhibit on the uncertainty principle can be found here <
http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/> at the American Institute for Physics.

To Index

Schrödinger, Erwin --1887 CE to 1961 CE

Schrödinger is known for his mathematical development of wave mechanics (1926), a form of quantum mechanics (see quantum theory ), and his formulation of the wave equation that bears his name. The Schrödinger equation is the most widely used mathematical tool of the modern quantum theory. For this work he shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with P. A. M. Dirac "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory".

A full biography of Schrödinger can be found at the Nobel e-Musem at

Another excellent Schrödinger biography can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of Scientists through xrefer at <http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=495147&secid=.-> where useful cross-references are also located.

A brief biography from San Francisco Statue University also provides background: <http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~rsauzier/Schrodinger.html>.

To Index

G ödel, Kurt -- 1906 CE to 1978 CE

Gödel was a brilliant mathematician / logician who is most famous for showing [1], [2] that in any axiomatic mathematical system there are propositions that cannot be proved or disproved within the axioms of that system. This demonstrated for the first time that mathematics is not a complete and self-consistent system as had been believed. This also proved that a computer can never be programmed to answer all mathematical questions.

What is thought of as Gödel's first incompleteness theorem (1930) states that all consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions (Hofstadter , 1989).

Gödel's second incompleteness theorem states that if number theory is consistent, then a proof of this fact does not exist using the methods of first-order predicate calculus . Stated more colloquially, any formal system that is interesting enough to formulate its own consistency can prove its own consistency iff it is inconsistent (iff = if and only if [i.e., necessary and sufficient]; "just if" or "exactly when" are sometimes used instead) .

An excellent and thorough biography can be found at St. Andrew's University in Scotland <http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Godel.html>.

A particularly fine and highly-recommended web resource appropriately entitled "Godel on the Net" can be found here.

Two other brief biographies with useful sidebar links can be found through Xrefer in Who's Who in the Twentieth Century <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/170965> and A Dictionary of Scientists <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/494464>, both from Oxford University Press.

Also see Incompleteness Theorem [1], [2]; Turing Machine [3], [4]; Alan Turing [5], [6].

To Index

Fermi, Enrico -- 1901 CE to 1954 CE

Fermi won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons".

In 1926, Fermi discovered the statistical laws, now called Fermi-Dirac statistics, that govern the particles subject to Pauli's exclusion principle. Studying the atomic nucleus itself, in 1934, Fermi evolved the beta decay theory. Based on the work of Pauli and Curie, he demonstrated that nuclear transformation occurs in almost every element subjected to neutron bombardment.

Following the discovery of fission by Hahn and Strassman (1939), Fermi recognized that a chain reaction of secondary neutrons was possible. He then directed a classic series of experiments which ultimately led to the construction of an atomic pile which produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction.

An excellent biography of Fermi with very useful links can be found at Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Fermi.html>.

A brief but useful biography of Fermi is provided by Biography: <http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=14698>.

The Nobel e-Museum provides another excellent biography of Fermi at <http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1938/fermi-bio.html>.

To Index

Oppenheimer, J. Robert -- 1904 CE to 1967 CE

Robert Oppenheimer was an outstanding physicist and excellent teacher. He successfully managed the Manhatten Project, comprised of the most brilliant minds in physics, which resulted in the development of the first American atomic weapons at the close of WW II. After the war Oppenheimer fell afoul of the U.S. anticommunist platform because he opposed development of the hydrogen bomb and was permanently removed from nuclear projects.

Biography's Oppenheimer biography: <http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=18160>.

Through Xrefer, an excellent biography on Oppenheimer can be found in the Dictionary of Scientists <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/494980>, and additional detail can be found in Who's Who in the Twentieth Century <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/171529>, both from Oxford University Press.

Teller, Edward -- 1908 CE to ...

Often called the father of the hydrogen bomb, Teller was part of the Manhatten Project but is most famous for having worked very closely with Stanislaw Ulam to develop and create a successful working hydrogen weapon. Teller also played the most significant role in the removal of Robert Oppenheimer from his career as a nuclear scientist after the Manhatten Project.

Through Xrefer, a brief but very clear biographical sketch can be found in A Dictionary of Scientists <http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=495247&secid=.-&hh=1>, Oxford University Press.

Brief but useful and interesting biographies of Teller are provided by Biography: <http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=20023> and Eric Weisstein's Science World site at Wolfram Research <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Teller.html>.

Here is a revealing and highly-informative interview with Teller; his home page can be found here.

To Index

Gamow, George -- 1904 CE to 1968 CE

Gamow was a Russian-American physicist who worked out the theory of alpha decay and showed that, as a star burns hydrogen, the star heats up. Based on work with Ralph Alpher and Hans Bethe, he supported the "big bang" theory of Lemaître.

To Index

Alpher. Ralph Asher -- 1921 to ...

Alpher's major work was in cosmology. Working with Hans Bethe and George Gamow he generated the so-called "alpha-beta-gamma" [Alpher-Bethe-Gamow] theory of how elements were created, , which Gamow incorporated into the big-bang theory. Alpher predicted microwave background radiation would be a "signature" of the big bang. This radiation was first detected in 1965.

To Index

Watson, James (1928 CE to ...) and Crick, Francis (1916 CE to ...)

Based on work done by Maurice Wilkins <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Wilkins.html> who had worked on the atomic bomb, Francis Crick <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Crick.html> and James Watson <http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/WatsonJames.html> worked together at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge to develop the breakthrough double-helix model of DNA.

The three shared the The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

Here are further biographies for Crick, Watson and Wilkins through the Nobel e-Museum.

To Index

Gell-Man, Murray -- 1929 CE to ...

Dr. Gell-Man received the Nobel Prize (1969) in physics "for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions". Professor Gell-Mann's "eightfold way" theory brought order to the chaos created by the discovery of some 100 particles in the atom's nucleus. He then found that all of those particles, including the neutron and proton, are composed of fundamental building blocks that he named "quarks." The quarks are permanently confined by forces coming from the exchange of "gluons." He and others later constructed the quantum field theory of quarks and gluons, called "quantum chromodynamics," [1 ], [2 ] which seems to account for all the nuclear paticles and their strong interactions.

Gell-Man's biography can be found at <http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/People/mgm/mgmbio.html> which comes from his home page at the Santa fe Institute <http://www.santafe.edu>.

A brief biography with other useful links can be found at the Nobel e-Museum at

To Index

Hawking, Stephen William -- 1942 CE to ...

Stephen Hawking holds the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University in the U.K. Click here to learn who in the history of mathematics has held this very important and prestigious research position (you will note that Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage have been there!).

A great source of information about Hawking can be found through St. Andrew's University, Scotland, U.K.<http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Hawking.html>.

Stephen Hawking is certainly not ignorant of the importance of the web -- here is his home page. See especially, "lectures" and "physics colloquiums" the latter of which you can access from the bottom of the "lectures" page (BTW, if you don't already have them mounted on your computer, you will need PDF viewer and perhaps Ghostview).

The following is another good-quality biography and brief description of Hawking's major contributions / works which contains a reflection back to Galileo and Newton.

For background information, see also The University of Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory.

To Index

Dawkins, Richard --1941CE to ...

Dawkins is a particularly thoughtful sociobiologist . He has argued in The Selfish Gene (1976; 1989) that apparently altruistic acts of living organisms are actually selfish because their outcomes have an evolutionary advantage. In The Blind Watchmaker (1986) Dawkins argued that what appears as "divine design" in nature is the result of natural selection, where ongoing small mutations maintain the momentum of evolution. In Climbing Mount Improbable (1996) he showed how disparate examples of biological diversity such as a spider's web and the vertebrate eye can have evolved through natural selection.

A brief introduction to Dawkins can be found through Xrefer in Who's Who in the Twentieth Century <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/170735 >, while an excellent introductory biography can be found in The Dictionary of Scientists <http://www.xrefer.com/entry/494248 >, both from Oxford University Press.

To Index


You may also wish to examine the work of Stuart Kauffman [1 ], [2 ], [3 ], late of the Santa Fe Institute and now Chief Scientist of BiosGroup .

To Index