In intellectual rankings, greatest physicist ever (GPE:#) is an epitaph given to a person, depending on ranking methodology, some rankings of which are listed below, that classify, list, or describe someone as being the greatest thinker in the field of physics of all time; the table below shows a ranked listing of the top 100+ physicists of all time

The following is a meta-analysis ranking of the top 100+ greatest physicists based on the Murray 4000 top 20 names in physics [Murray 4000:#|P], Millennium Poll (2009) [MP|#], Physics Forum Poll (2005 + 2007) [FFP|#], Google Hits Study (2009) [GHS|#], Landau Genius Scale [LGS|#], Kanowitz 50 (2008), Cropper 30 (2001), the Famous Male Physicists [FMP:#] (Ѻ), RankOPedia 28 (2012), among others, each as discussed below, along with IQ|position from the top 1000 genius rankings, shown in second column:

Physics Rankings



Einstein 75 (older)Albert Einstein
(Murray 4000:2|P)
[Kanowitz 50:2]
[Cropper 30:1|R]
Gravitation Waves gif[RGM:2|1,500+] (Murray 4000:9|CS / 2|P) (HD:52) (DN:5.5±) (RE:76) (CR:523) German physicist and philosopher; he is #6 in genius meta-analysis rankings; epicenter genius (IQavg:210); a triple scientific revolutions genius; blue sky problem theorist; [GPE]; known for: the light quanta hypothesis (quantum mechanics); his 1919 general theory of relativity predicted the existence of gravitational waves (as shown adjacent); noted in: radiation thermodynamics; kept a bust of Goethe in his study, and Goethe's works were the most predominant amid his personal library (see: Einstein's library).

Newton 75Isaac Newton
(Murray 4000:1|P)
[Kanowitz 50:1]
[Cropper 30:2|M]
(Neerden 57:9)
(James 50:4)
Laws of motion 3(Cattell 1000:14) [RGM:3|1,500+] (Murray 4000:2|CS / 1|P / 2|M) (EPD:F0) (GR:1) (SIG:1) (RE:84) (CR:595) English physicist, chemistry, mathematician, and philosopher; noted for his 1686 Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, where he introduced the laws of motion, which he applied to both falling apples and falling planets; the #1 in genius meta-analysis rankings; triple scientific revolutions genius; blue sky problem theorist; [GPE] [GME]; known for: mechanics, gravitational theory; his Query 31 launched affinity chemistry (the key behind Goethe's 1809 Elective Affinities) and well as physical chemistry; known for: differential equations, optics, etc; IQ of 250+ (Azak, 2011).

Maxwell 75James Maxwell
(Murray 4000:9|P)
[Kanowitz 50:9]
[Cropper 30:2|EM]
Electromagnetic wave (labeled) gif(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:112|1,500+] (Murray 4000:20|CS / 9|P) (EPD:M8) (DN:4±) (RE:48) (CR:437) Scottish mathematical physicist;

Was it a god that wrote these signs, revealing the hidden and mysterious forces of nature around me, which fill my heart with quiet joy?”
Ludwig Boltzmann (1893), on Maxwell’s equations, inspired by opening monologue of Goethe’s Faust; which, itself, he considered the “greatest of all works of art”

a dual scientific revolutions genius; blue sky problem theorist; known for: electromagnetic theory, model of the electromagnetic force (pictured), kinetic theory, thermodynamics (graphical thermodynamics); highest-ranked "magnitude genius" (prolific output in short time); one of the three shoulder genius Einstein said (Ѻ) he stood on; first-slating: 195-215 (c.2015).

Niels Bohr 75Niels Bohr
(Murray 4000:7|P)
[Kanowitz 50:11]
[Cropper 30:2|QM]
Bohr model 3[RGM:47|1,500+] (LGS:1) (CR:76) Danish physicist; his 1913 “Bohr model” of the atom proposed that normally each electron in an atom is confined to a particular electron shell or what he called “orbits” (see: molecular orbital theory), which may be spherical as well as elliptical, but that—in very a very science-redefining way—an electron can move or "jump" between adjacent orbits or orbitals only when the atom (or electron?) emits or absorbs a certain quantum amount (energy element amount) of radiant energy, of the amount ‘hν’, where h is Planck’s constant and ν (nu) is the frequency of the electromagnetic energy or light emitted or absorbed; first-slating: IQ:175-185 (c.2016); downgrade ↓ from 185|#77 to 180|#90 following digestion of his Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (1958) lectures, wherein he attempts to defend, in a puerile middle ground sense, the concepts of life, free will, and teleological like purpose, via recourse to uncertainty principle arguments (Oct 2018).

GalileoGalileo Galilei
(Murray 4000:5|P)
[Kanowitz 50:3]
[Cropper 30:1|M]
(Neerden 57:1)
(James 50:1)
Galileo ball dropping experiment(Cattell 1000:46) [RGM:4|1,500+] (Murray 4000:2|CS / 5|P / 2|A) [GPE:5] (CR:157|#24) Italian scientist;

“Many years ago, I accepted Copernicus’ theory, and from that point of view I discovered the reasons for numerous natural phenomena which unquestionably cannot be explained by the conventional cosmology. I have written down many arguments as well as refutations of objections. These, however, I have not dared to publish up to now. For I am thoroughly frightened by what happened to our master, Copernicus. Although he won immortal fame among some persons, nevertheless among countless – for so large is the number of fools – he became a target of ridicule and derision. I would of course have the courage to make my thoughts public, if there were more people like you. But since there aren’t, I shall avoid this kind of activity.”
— Galileo Galilei (1596), “Letter to Johannes Kepler”, after receiving copy of Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery

in genius meta-analysis rankings; dual scientific revolutions genius; ; known for: dynamics, vacuum theory, temperature, astronomy, heliocentric theory; intellectual giant to Einstein; first draft slating: IQ:185-200 (c.2014).

Paul Dirac 75Paul Dirac
(Murray 4000:15|P)
[Kanowitz 50:28]
[Cropper 30:1|PP]


Schrodinger 75Erwin Schrodinger
[Kanowitz 50:24]
[Cropper 30:6|QM]


Clausius 75Rudolf Clausius
[Cropper 30:6|T]

Richard Feynman 75 Richard Feynman
[Kanowitz 50:4]
[Cropper 30:2|PP]


Gibbs (75px)Willard Gibbs
[Cropper 30:7|T]


FaradayMichael Faraday
(Murray 4000:4|P)
[Kanowitz 50:2]
[Cropper 30:1|EM]


Werner Heisenberg 75Werner Heisenberg
(Murray 4000:13|P)
[Kanowitz 50:13]
[Cropper 30:4|QM]


Gauss 75Carl Gauss


Ernest Rutherford 75Ernest Rutherford
(Murray 4000:3|P)
[Kanowitz 50:14]
[Cropper 30:2|NP]


Fermi 75 Enrico Fermi
(Murray 4000:12|P)
[Kanowitz 50:21]
[Cropper 30:4|NP]


Gottfried Leibniz 75 newGottfried Leibniz


Planck 75Max Planck
[Kanowitz 50:8]
[Cropper 30:1|QM]


Robert Hooke 75Robert Hooke
(Murray 4000:20|P)
[Kanowitz 50:45]
(Neerden 57:8)


Joseph Thomson 75Joseph Thomson
(Murray 4000:8|P)
[Kanowitz 50:33]


Ettore Majorana 75Ettore Majorana


Helmholtz 75Hermann Helmholtz
[Cropper 30:4|T]

Louis de Broglie 75Louis de Broglie
[Kanowitz 50:33]
[Cropper 30:4|QM]


Henry Cavandish 75Henry Cavendish
(Murray 4000:6|P)
[Kanowitz 50:18]
(James 50:8)


Descartes 75Rene Descartes
(Neerden 57:4)

Sadi Carnot 75 Sadi Carnot
[Cropper 30:1|T]

Boltzmann 75Ludwig Boltzmann
[Kanowitz 50:44]
[Cropper 30:1|SM]


Christiaan Huygens 75Christiaan Huygens
(Murray 4000:17|P)
[Kanowitz 50:16]
(Neerden 57:7)
(James 50:3)


James Joule 75James Joule
(Murray 4000:16|P)
[Kanowitz 50:17]
[Cropper 30:3|T]
Mechanical equivalent of heat (Joule)(CR:138|#30) English physicist and engineer;

“The height of the pulleys from the ground was twelve yards, and consequently, when the weights had descended through that distance, they had to be wound up again in order to renew the motion of the paddle. After this operation had been repeated sixteen times, the increase of the temperature of the water was ascertained by means of a very sensible and accurate thermometer.”
— James Joule (1845), “On the Existence of an Equivalent Relation between Heat and the Ordinary Forms of Mechanical Power” (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

together with Hermann Helmholtz and Robert Mayer, are the three main derivers of the mechanical equivalent of heat (aka the conservation of energy) the big three thinkers of Thomas Kuhn’s group of 12 independent formulators of the conservation of energy paradigm change theory; gauged at IQ 175-190 (c.2015).

CurieMarie Curie
(Murray 4000:16|P)
[Kanowitz 50:10]
[Cropper 30:1|NP]


Hendrik Lorentz 75Hendrik Lorentz
[Kanowitz 50:42]Lorentz contraction (1892) f(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,300+] (Murray 4000:N/A) Dutch physicist;

Lorentz is the greatest and most powerful thinker I have ever known. I never met Willard Gibbs, but, perhaps, had I done so, I might have placed him beside Lorentz.”
— Albert Einstein (1954), response to question about who were the greatest men, and most powerful thinkers he had known

a top ranked GPE; noted for his postulate that light derives from oscillating electrons in atoms; for his 1892 postulate of relativistic length contraction; many other deep-minded insights; first slating: 175|#244 (c.2017); upgraded ↑ to 180|#110 (Jun 2018).

Satyendra Bose 75Satyendra Bose

Aristotle 75Aristotle

Aristotelian physics(Cattell 1000:6) [RGM:6|1,310+] (Murray 4000:3|CS / 1|WP) (Glenn 20:1) (Perry 80:3|Li) (CR:265|#14) [LPKE] Greek physicist philosopher; #4 in genius meta-analysis rankings; epicenter genius; first dominate blue sky problem theorist; student of Plato—teacher of Alexander the Great, the synergy and transmission of which, in Alexandria, resulted to bring about the unification of Aristotelian cosmos theory, i.e. a 55-sphere earth-centric universe model, with Egyptian astro-theology into what we now know as Christianity; first to document the Mpemba effect; in his circa 350 Metaphysics, was the first to dominantly introduced the term energy; central advocate of the nature abhors a vacuum dictum—that complete vacuums are impossible; His physics asserted that all matter had a proper place to which it tried to return, e.g. as shown by cannon ball falling back earth (photo) (Ѻ) when impelling force ceased, and that heavier objects should fall faster than lighter ones (an idea disproved by Galileo); .

Charles Coulomb 75Charles Coulomb
[Kanowitz 50:36]
(James 50:9)
Coulomb’s law(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,350+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (SIG:15) French physicist and military engineer; noted for his 1785 construction of a built a torsion balance (Ѻ), as shown, wherein, in an effort to prove Joseph Priestley's 1766 inference that the force of attraction or repulsion between two small charged spheres would be inversely proportional to the square of the separating distance, using Hooke’s spring law, and showed quantitatively that charged spheres haven an inverse proportionality relationship, which he explained formulaically (see: Coulomb’s law); first-slating: 170|#291 (Mar 2018).

Laplace 75Pierre Laplace
(James 50:10)

Copernicus 75Nicolaus Copernicus
[Kanowitz 50:15]

Heinrich Hertz 75Heinrich Hertz
[Kanowitz 50:24]Hertz experiment 2[RGM:151|1,500+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (Kanowitz 50:24) (SIG:11) (Ѻ) German physicist;

“It's of no use whatsoever. This is just an experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell was right—we just have these mysterious electromagnetic waves that we cannot see with the naked eye. But they are there.”
— Heinrich Hertz (1887) (Ѻ)

noted for his 1886 experimental proof, via detection of radiowaves, of Maxwell's electromagnetic theory, via experimental setup as shown adjacent; first-slating: 180|#185 (Dec 2017).

Democritus 75 newDemocritus


Lagrange 75 Joseph Lagrange


Boyle 75Robert Boyle
[Kanowitz 50:41]
(Neerden 57:6)


Empedocles 75Empedocles


Thomas Young 75Thomas Young
(Murray 4000:19|P)
[Kanowitz 50:20]

Isaac Beeckman 75Isaac Beeckman


Davy 75 Humphry Davy

(Cattell 1000:203) (CR:59) English chemist and physicist; noted for his 1799 “ice-rubbing experiments”; for his 1802 experiment wherein he took a battery and connected wires from it to a piece of carbon, which glowed; this was known as the “electric arc”, forerunner to the light bulb (Edison, 1878) (Ѻ); for his work on the conservation of force, among other areas of research, such as the discovery of many elements.

Daniel Bernoulli 75 (new)Daniel Bernoulli
(James 50:5) [RGM:1309|1,500+] (CR:52) Dutch-born Swiss mathematician, physicist, and physician noted for his 1738 Hydrodynamica in which he outlined the basics of the ideal gas law, the precursors for the kinetic theory of gases, and gave the first basic definition of pressure
William Hamilton 75William Hamilton


Tesla 75Nikola Tesla
[Kanowitz 50:7]tesla(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:7|1,500+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (RE:87) (CR:94|37) Serbian-born American electrical engineer, inventor, and philosopher;

“I am an automaton endowed with power of movement, which merely responds to external stimuli beating upon my sense organs.”
— Nikola Tesla (1900), “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy”

known for: defunct life theory, electricity, magnetism, human energy, radio technology, alternating current, electromagnetic motors; adhered to a Goethean philosophy, to the exclusion of all other philosophies.

William Thomson 75William Thomson
[Kanowitz 50:19]
[Cropper 30:5|T]
Kelvin scale 2(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,500+] (CR:361) Irish-born Scottish mathematical physicist; known for: absolute temperature (adjacent), thermodynamics; Glasgow University age 10; defended Joseph Fourier’s 1822 theory of heat over that of Philip Kelland’s 1837 heat theory (age 13); by age 15-16; published first scientific papers by age 17; in 1845 (age 21), after graduating second wrangler (Cambridge), simultaneous unearthed () the then unknown and forgotten memoirs of Sadi Carnot’s 1824 thermodynamics memoir and George Green’s 1828 memoir on the mathematics of electricity and magnetism, now known as two of the most-original works in science; and gave the first mathematical development of Michael Faraday's idea that electric induction takes place through an intervening medium; downgrade () for latter religious undertone based calculations, e.g. age of the sun, etc.; first-slating: 185-190 (c.2015).
Walter Heitler 75Walter Heitler

Priestley 75 Joseph Priestley


Gustav Kirchhoff 75Gustav Kirchhoff
(Murray 4000:11|P)

Pierre Gassendi 75Pierre Gassendi


Robert MillikanRobert Millikan

Oil drop experiment[RGM:N/A|1,330+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (CR:8) American physicist, known for his 1910 oil drop experiment (Ѻ), conducted with Harvey Fletcher, wherein they calculated the charge on a single electron (1.6 × 10E-19 C); for his 1914 work on proving Einstein’s 1905 photoelectric effect correct; downgrade for his 1928 cosmic ray anti-entropy heat death religious theory; first-slating: 175|#271 (Mar 2018).

John Bardeen 75John Bardeen
[Kanowitz 50:26]

William Gilbert 75William Gilbert
(Murray 4000:18|P)

Augustin Fresnel 75Augustin Fresnel

wave theory of light(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,330+] (Murray 4000:N/A) French engineer-physicist;

“By the genius of Young and Fresnel the wave theory of light was established in a position so strong that hence forth the corpuscular hypothesis was unable to recruit any adherents among the younger men.”
— Edmund Whittaker (1987), A History of the Theory of Aether and Electricity (Ѻ)

co-founder, with Thomas Young, of the wave theory of light; 2018 missing (Ѻ) GPE candidate; first-slating: 180|#170 (Mar 2018).

Andre Ampere 75Andre Ampere
[Kanowitz 50:32]Amps gif(Cattell 1000:557) [RGM:558|1,500+] (Eells 100:93) (CR:15) French physicist and mathematician;

“The experimental investigations by which Ampere established the laws of mechanical action between electric currents is one of the most brilliant achievements in science. The whole, theory and experiment, seems as if it had leaped, full grown and full armed, from the brain of the ‘Newton of electricity’. It is perfect in form, and unassailable in accuracy, and it is summed up in a formula from which all the phenomena may be deduced, and which must always remain the cardinal formula of electro-dynamics.”
James Maxwell (1873), Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, Volume 2

Dubbed the “father of electrodynamics” (Heaviside, 1888); coiner of electrodynamics, the study of currents and dynamical movements; a “tortured genius” who had the phrase “Tandem felix” (“Happy, at last”) engraved on his tombstone; gauged at 180-190 (c.2015).
Guillaume Amontons 75Guillaume Amontons

Alexander Friedman 75Alexander Friedman

Pierre Curie 75Pierre Curie
(Murray 4000:10|P)


Pascal 75Blaise Pascal
(Neerden 57:5)Pascal’s Atmospheric Pressure Experiment(Cattell 1000:61) [RGM:42|1,500+] (Murray 4000:8|M) (GME:18) (CR:44) French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher; at age 19 (1642), made a counting machine, impressed Descartes, with toothed wheels and gears, moving drums carrying numbers, that could add, subtract, multiply and divide; built 50 in total; in 1646 repeated Evangelista Torricelli's vacuum experiments; from 1652-64, spent all his time on the mathematics of gambling; after his 1654 brush with death (age 31) he "found god" (downgrade ↓) and thereafter seems to have lost his ability to think objectively (see: Pascal’s wager) and productively (relating all his theories to the Bible); upgrade (↑) for his Thoughts dialogues (Einstein-Pascal dialogue on purpose); dereacted at 39; down-graded from 190|#49 to 185|#47 (Feb 2017).

Guglielmo Marconi 75Guglielmo Marconi

Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes 75Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes

William Rontgen 75William Rontgen
[Kanowitz 50:50]


Lev LandauLev Landau

Otto Guericke 75Otto Guericke

Guericke (piston and 20 men)[RGM:878|1,500+] (CR:112) German engineer, physicist, philosopher, diplomat;

“Theories which are demonstrated by experiment and visual perception must be preferred to those derived from reasoning, however probable and plausible, for many things seem true in speculation and discussion, which in actual fact defy reality.”
— Otto Guericke (1663), New Magdeburg Experiments on the Vacuum of Space (pg. xvii)

In 1854, he experimentally disproved Aristotle's theories about space and and his view that nature abhors a vacuum; a characterized “neglected genius” (Coulson, 1943) (Ames, 1994) (Ѻ); the originality, variety, polymathly, and influence of his contributions are difficult to summarize in short; to say the least: he is the person behind the invention of the vacuum engine and the so-called: “first and greatest of the electrical discoverers”; first slated at 185|#61 (c.2017).

Henri Poincare 75 Henri Poincare


Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 75Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
[Cropper 30:2AP]

Wolfgang Pauli 75Wolfgang Pauli
[Cropper 30:3|QM]

Pierre Maupertuis 75Pierre Maupertuis


Edwin Hubble 75Edwin Hubble
[Kanowitz 50:30]
[Cropper 30:1|AP]


Archimedes 75Archimedes
[Kanowitz 50:6]Buoyancy(Cattell 1000:414) [RGM:9|1,500+] (Murray 4000:20|M / 5|T) [GME] (CR:28) Greek physicist, mathematician, and mechanical engineer; a fabled "last persons to know everything”; known for: hydrostatics, statics, the principle of the lever, steam cannon; categorized as both an “overrated genius” (Ѻ) and an “underrated genius” (Ѻ), depending.
Hans Bethe 75Hans Bethe
[RGM:1234|1,500+] (Landau scale:1.5|Vote) German-born American physicist; noted for his c.1933 work, with Enrico Fermi, on the development of exchange force theory, by suggesting that interactions between charged particles could be described in terms of photons being exchanged between particles; 1939, Bethe added the final pieces to Arthur Eddington’s proton-proton chain reaction model, by showing that a proton can beta decay into a neutron via the weak interaction during the brief moment of fusion, making deuterium the initial product in the chain.

Roger Boscovich 75Roger Boscovich
(James 50:7)

Jean d'Alembert 75 Jean d'Alembert


Kepler 75 Johannes Kepler
[Kanowitz 50:5]
(Neerden 57:2)
(James 50:2)


Hans Orsted 75Hans Orsted
[Kanowitz 50:40]electromagnatism(Cattell 1000:523) [Kanowitz 50:40] (GPE:73) (CR:11) Danish physicist, chemist, and natural philosopher; noted for his 1820 discovery that when a compass is brought near a current-carrying wire, that the needle deflects, i.e. he discovered that electric currents create magnetic field, aka aka “Orsted law” (Ѻ), later shown to operate according to the “right-hand rule” (Ampere, c.1831); mentor to Ludwig Colding; supposedly shaped post-Kantian philosophy; downgrade ↓ from 180|#165 to 175|# per Buchner ridicule of his “eternal intelligence” (aka god) theory, and generally for reason that his discovery, while notable, is not as profound as followup work, e.g. Ampere, Maxwell, Faraday, etc., based this simple discovery (Feb 2019).

Strato 75Strato

water spout droplets (acceleration)(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,310+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (FA:20) Greek philosopher; nicknamed the “physicist”; successor to Theophrastus;

“Equally intolerable is the inconsistency of Theophrastus, for at one moment he allots the divine primacy to mind, at another to the heavens, and yet another to the signs of the heavenly stars. Another figure unworthy of attention is Theophrastus’ disciple Strato, the one they call the ‘physicist’, for he proposes that all divine power lies in nature, which bears within it the causes of birth, growth, and diminution, but which lacks all sensation and shape.”
Cicero (45BC), On the Nature of the Gods

Strato taught in Lampsacus; where he might have known Epicurus; he attended Aristotle's school in Athens, after which he went to Egypt as tutor to Ptolemy (309–246 BC) (Ѻ), where he also taught Aristarchus (famed heliocentric theory pioneer) ↑; returned to Athens after the death (dereaction) of Theophrastus (c.287 BC), succeeding him as head of the Lyceum; he emphasized the need for exact research, and, as an example of this, he made use of the observation of how water pouring from a spout breaks into separate droplets as evidence that falling bodies accelerate; Hero’s 50AD Pneumatica, was said to overview the physics of Strato and Ctesibius, via outlining an atomic theory in which matter consists of particles mixed with distributed vacua; David Hume declared Strato’s brand of atheism to be: “the most dangerous of the ancients”; first-slating: 180|#105 (Feb 2018).

Walther Nernst 75Walther Nernst
[Cropper 30:8|T]

Joseph FourierJoseph Fourier

(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,310+] (Eells 100:16) French physicist and mathematician; his The Analytical Theory of Heat (1822), wherein he outlined a heat flow theory based his reasoning on Newton’s law of cooling, namely, that the flow of heat between two adjacent molecules is proportional to the extremely small difference of their temperatures, was read like gospel by William Thomson and James Maxwell in youth, therein being instrumental in the later development of thermodynamics; the book also provided the foundation for the Fourier transform; first-draft gauged at 180±(#138) (Jan 2018).

Robert Mayer 75Robert Mayer
[Cropper 30:2|T]

Thales 75Thales
(c.624-546 BC)


John StruttJohn Strutt

Arthur Compton 75Arthur Compton

[RGM:N/A|1,500+] (CR:12) American physicist; in his 1932 “A Quantum Theory of the Scattering of X-Rays by Light Elements”, gave experimental evidence for the particle view of light, aka Compton effect.

Alessandro Volta 75Alessandro Volta
[Kanowitz 50:23]Voltaic pile(Cattell 1000:684) [RGM:140|1,500+] (SIG:13) (CR:18) Italian physicist;

“What is possible to do well, in physics in particular, are those things that can be reduced to degrees and measures.”
— Alessandro Volta (c.1800) (Ѻ)

noted for his famous 1776 “animal electricity” debated with his friend Luigi Galvani on the topic of the mechanism of the twitching of dead frog legs in an electric circuit, in respect to what separates a “living thing” from a “dead thing”, moved by purely electro-physico-chemical means; which resulted in Volta inventing the battery, or “Voltaic pile”, in 1800, so to prove Galvani wrong about his animal electricity theory; first-slated 175±|#156 (c.2015).

Stephen Hawking 75 newStephen Hawking
[Cropper 30:2|AP]

Photo needed 75Heraclides

earth rotatingGreek philosopher and astronomer; proposed that the earth rotates on its axis (compare: Ecphantus (c.500BC)); posited that the soul was light; did battle with Aristotle, supposedly, on the question whether the universe is finite or infinite; and is rumored, according to Simplicius (c.590AD), to have formulated heliocentrism (or at least the precursor model to what Aristarchus (c.240BC) (IQ:175|#244) put into book form); first draft slated at 180|#115, a grade above Aristarchus.

Lise Meitner 75Lise Meitner
[Kanowitz 50:39]
[Cropper 30:3|NP]

Georges Lemaitre 75Georges Lemaitre
[Kanowitz 50:37]
Wilhelm Weber 75Wilhelm Weber
[Kanowitz 50:47]
Harlow Shapley 75Harlow Shapley


Gustave Coriolis 75Gustave Coriolis

Coriolis work principle(CR:35) French physicist; noted for his 1829 Calculation of the Effect of Machines, wherein he introduced the modern formulaic definition of work as force times distance; some references assert, of note, that also in this book he introduced the introduced the factor ½ in German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz’s 1686 vis viva for the sake of mathematical convenience (others say it was Joseph Lagrange who did this in 1811); also noted for his 1835 paper, wherein he stated that “any particle moving in the northern hemisphere is deflected to the right, and any particle moving in the southern hemisphere is deflected to the left”, aka the Coriolis effect, according to which explains why toilets drain clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Evangelista Torricelli 75Evangelista Torricelli
[Kanowitz 50:46]

Heraclitus 75Heraclitus
James Chadwick 75James Chadwick
[FMP:25] [RGM:N/A|1,500+] English physicist; noted for his 1932 discovery of the neutron—though, technically, Ettore Majorana, independently, arrived at the same conclusion, namely the existence of a “heavy neutral particle”, as he termed it, within the same period that year.
Pieter Zeeman 75Pieter Zeeman
[Kanowitz 50:31]
Georg Ohm 75Georg Ohm
[Kanowitz 50:27]
Arthur EddingtonArthur Eddington

[RGM:N/A|1,500+] (CR:88) English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician; noted for his 1920 "The Internal Constitution of the Stars", wherein he anticipated the discovery and mechanism of nuclear fusion processes in stars, explaining that source of stellar energy, then a complete mystery, was fusion of hydrogen into helium (work later completed by Hans Bethe); noted for his expedition to observe the 29 May 1919 eclipse, which famously provided one of the earliest confirmations of general relativity (see: falsifiability).
Karl Schwarzschild 75Karl Schwarzschild

Henri Becquerel 75Henri Becquerel
[Kanowitz 50:34]

Franklin 75Benjamin Franklin
[Kanowitz 50:25]
(Neerden 57:10)
(James 50:6)


Gravesande 75Willem Gravesande

ball and clay experiment (labeled)(GPE:97) (CR:31) Dutch physicist, experimenter, mathematician, lawyer and philosopher;

Gravesande is to be ranged among the most important expounders of Newtonian physics in Europe.”
— Andrea Strazzoni (2013), Dutch Cartesianism and the Birth of Philosophy of Science (pg. 174)

noted for his circa 1718 brass ball clay surface experiments, data from which, showing that the moving ball has an energy of E = mv², rather than E = mv, as many argued, was used to resolve the vis viva controversy; did 1736 ball and ring experiments with Herman Boerhaave (as reported by Voltaire). ; first-draft slotted at #125 (Jun 2017); down-grade ↓to 175|#245 (Apr 2020).

Ernst Mach 75Ernst Mach

Mach speed(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:198|1,350+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (CR:16) Austrian physicist and philosopher; popularly known for his 1885 work on supersonic speed; he rejected the existence of god, as well as Isaac Newton’s concept of absolute time and space; he argued that no statement in science is admissible unless it is empirically verifiable, which led him to reject atomic theory, which put him in the energetics school which did battle with Boltzmann and Planck (Mach lost); Einstein (1930) said that Mach’s ideas should be considered the precursor of the general theory of relativity; first to document turning tendencies (pictured) in human movement; first slating: 175|#235 (Mar 2018).

Christian Doppler 75Christian Doppler
[Kanowitz 50:38]Red shift and blue shift(Cattell 1000:N/A) [RGM:N/A|1,350+] (Murray 4000:N/A) (Kanowitz 50|38) Austrian mathematician and physicist; noted for his 1842 explanation that observed frequency of a wave, e.g. color, depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer, aka “Doppler effect”, e.g. red shift or blue shift, which he used to explain the color of binary stars; first slating: 170|#350 (Mar 2018).
Joseph Henry 75Joseph Henry

Erwin Muller 75Erwin Muller

German-born American physicist; first person to ever "see" an atom (1955).
Charles Wilson 75Charles Wilson
[FMP:30] Wilson Cloud Chamber (1911)[RGM:N/A|1,500+] Scottish physicist and meteorologist; noted for his invention of the cloud chamber (1911).
Ernst Siemens 75Ernst Siemens

Carl Anderson 75Carl Anderson
[FMP:60] [Untitled]American physicist; noted for his 1932 discovery of the “positron” (antielectron) particle, predicted by Paul Dirac (1927) and Ettore Majorana (1928).
Robert OppenheimerRobert Oppenheimer
John Wheeler 75John Wheeler
[Kanowitz 50:49]
Joseph Fraunhofer 75Joseph Fraunhofer

Max von Laue 75Max von Laue

(Simmons 100:56) (CR:10) German physicist, noted for his work in x-ray crystallography, namely in 1911 he conducted an experiment showing X-ray diffraction in a crystal lattice, from which he developed a law that connects the scattering angles and the size and orientation of the unit-cell spacings in the crystal; he later did work in relativistic thermodynamics.
George Gamow 75George Gamow
[FMP:147] (Gottlieb 1000:674) characterized an "ordinary genius" (Serge, 2013). [10]
William Bragg
Henry Moseley
[FMP:78] English physicist;

“We have here a proof that there is in the atom a fundamental quantity, which increases by regular steps as one passes from one element to the next. This quantity can only be the charge of the central positive nucleus, of the existence of which already have definite proof.”
— Henry Mosely (c.1914)

noted for his 1914 determination of the atomic numbers of each of the known elements.
Benjamin Thompson 75Benjamin Thompson
[FMP:115](CR:39) American-born English physicist; noted for his 1798 cannon-boring experiments (compare: ice rubbing experiment, 1799), which provided data for the first calculation of the mechanical equivalent of heat, and which laid question to the then-established caloric theory (of Antoine Lavoisier).
Oliver Lodge 75Oliver Lodge
[FMP:117] British physicist; noted for work in wireless telegraphy credited, by Lorentz, supposedly, with the first published description of the length contraction hypothesis, in 1893, though in fact Lodge's friend George Francis FitzGerald had first suggested the idea in print in 1889.
Osborne Reynolds 75Osborne Reynolds
Francois Argo
Dennis Gabor 75Dennis Gabor
[FMP:148]Hungarian electrical engineer and physicist noted, generally for his 1948 invention of holography; noted, in information thermodynamics, for his 1964 disproof of Maxwell’s demon (based on his 1951 lecture), in which he argues, similar to Leon Brillouin (1951), that the use of light by the demon, in attempting to gain information about the speeds of the particles, acts to dissipate energy in accordance with the second law.

Charles Townes 75 Charles Townes
[FMP:151]American physicist; noted for his 1954 invention of the “maser” or microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, the forerunner to the laser.

George Green

A missing Kanowitz 50 physicist.

Leó Szilárd

A missing Kanowitz 50 physicist.

Abdus Salam 75Abdus Salam

A missing Kanowitz 50 physicist.

Willebrord Snell 75Willebrord Snell
(Neerden 57:3)

Ole Romer 75Ole Romer


One of the more dominant surveys was the recent millennium poll on the greatest physicist of all time, conducted by the British journal Physics World who surveyed 130 leading physicists worldwide. [1] Two followup polls (2005, N=80; 2007, N=65), seemingly using the top ten millennium physicists as starting candidates, are also shown below. [2] The a "merged" 2005 + 2007 Physics Forum Poll is also shown below (where a person, e.g. Heisenberg, only shows up in one year, the mean is taken assuming he placed at position #12):

Millennium Poll (1999)Physics Forum Poll (2005)Physics Forum Poll (2007)Physics Forum Poll
Google Hits Study (2009)

1. Albert Einstein1. Isaac Newton1. Isaac Newton1. Isaac Newton1. Albert Einstein
2. Isaac Newton2. Albert Einstein2. Albert Einstein2. Albert Einstein2. Max Planck
3. James Maxwell3. Galileo Galilei3. James Maxwell3. Galileo Galilei3. Marie Curie
4. Niels Bohr4. Richard Feynman4. Richard Feynman4. Richard Feynman4. Niels Bohr
5. Werner Heisenberg5. Niels Bohr5. Galileo Galilei4.5. James Maxwell5. Enrico Fermi
6. Galileo Galilei6. James Maxwell6. Erwin Schrodinger6. Niels Bohr6. Guglielmo Marconi
7. Richard Feynman7. Paul Dirac7. Niels Bohr7.5. Paul Dirac7. Werner Heisenberg
8. Paul Dirac8. Michael Faraday8. Paul Dirac9. Erwin Schrodinger8. Erwin Schrodinger
9. Erwin Schrodinger9. Max Planck9. Werner Heisenberg10. Ernest Rutherford9. Pierre Curie
10. Ernest Rutherford10. Ernest Rutherford10. Ernest Rutherford10. Michael Faraday10. Wilhelm Rontgen

10.5. Max Planck

10.5. Werner Heisenberg

An alternative study, “Estimating Achievement from Fame” (2009), which excludes pre-Nobel Prize era physicists, attempting to rank what might be called modern era physicists, was done by Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury at the University of California, Los Angeles, who ranked Nobel Prize winners in physics, by equating their achievements with their fame as measured by hits on Google. [3]

Another note to discern in these rankings is that of "retrospect time" in the sense that only time can tell if a person, in the long run, will be still ranking as one of the greatest physicists. Thus, for example, in 1923 Time magazine ranked J.J. Thomson as the "greatest living physicist", likely owing to the hoopla over his recent 1897 discovery of the electron, but he was soon thereafter surpassed by Einstein and other soon to come discoveries in sub-atomic physics. [5]

Landau physicist genius rankings
See main: Landau genius scale
The following is Russian physicist Lev Landau's circa 1930s-developed personal genius rankings scale, a list that he would carry around with him, supposedly penned in via some kind logarithmic formula:


Landau physicist genius scale

Isaac Newton
Albert Einstein
Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Paul Dirac, Satyendra Bose, Eugene Wigner, and a few others.

Lev Landau (self-estimate in his late years, supposedly after his 1962 Nobel Prize)
Lev Landau (self-estimate before 1962 Nobel Prize)



David Mermin (per his own estimate ±)
Mundane or "pathologists"


Other rankings
The following table, first column, shows the 2008 listing of the “50 Most Influential Physicists/Astronomers of All Time” according to world history blogger Gavin Kanowitz. [4] The second column shows William Cropper's listing from his 2001 book Great Physicists: the Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking, listed chronologically and grouped by division. [6] Rankopedia's top 28 greatest physicist ever listing is shown as well: [8]

Kanowitz top 50Cropper 30
(chronological & grouped)
Rankopedia top 28
(based on 25 votes: 2010-2012)

1. Isaac NewtonMechanics 1. Albert Einstein 80.90

2. Albert Einstein1. Galileo Galilei2. Isaac Newton 77.42

3. Galileo Galilei2. Isaac Newton3. Galileo Galilei 59.62

4. Michael Faraday
4. Marie Curie 33.34

5. Johannes KeplerThermodynamics5. Stephen Hawking 28.03

6. Archimedes1. Sadi Carnot6. Michael Faraday 27.15

7. Nikola Tesla 2. Robert Mayer 7. Niels Bohr 25.73

8. Max Planck3. James Joule8. Werner Heisenberg 16.78

9. James Maxwell4. Hermann Helmholtz 9. John Napier 10.53

10. Marie Curie5. William Thomson10. Enrico Fermi 9.20

11. Niels Bohr6. Rudolf Clausius 11. Robert Oppenheimer 8.80

12. Erwin Schrodinger7. Willard Gibbs 12. Chushiro Hayashi 8.68

13. Werner Heisenberg8. Walther Nernst 13. Henri Poincaré 7.60

14. Ernest Rutherford
14. Robert Hooke 6.02

15. Nicolaus Copernicus Electromagnitism15. Carl Gauss 6.00

16. Christiaan Huygens 1. Michael Faraday 16. James Maxwell 5.86

17. James Joule2. James Maxwell 17. Murray Gell-Mann 4.90

18. Henry Cavendish
18. Ludwig Boltzmann 4.40

19. William ThomsonStatistical mechanics19. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes 3.80

20. Thomas Young1. Ludwig Boltzmann 20. Andre Ampere 3.20

21. Enrico Fermi
21. Evangelista Torricelli 2.80

22. Richard FeynmanRelativity 22. Max Planck 2.40

23. Alessandro Volta1. Albert Einstein23. Amit Goswami 1.94

24. Heinrich Hertz
24. Edouard Branly 1.60

25. Benjamin FranklinQuantum mechanics25. Andrei Sakharov 1.46

26. John Bardeen1. Max Planck 26. Wilhelm Bjerknes 0.80

27. Georg Ohm2. Niels Bohr 27. Georges Charpak 0.57

28. Paul Dirac3. Wolfgang Pauli 28. David Ruelle 0.40

29. Robert Millikan4. Werner Heisenberg

30. Edwin Hubble5. Louis de Broglie

31. Pieter Zeeman6. Erwin Schrodinger

32. Andre Ampere

33. Joseph ThomsonNuclear physics

34. Henri Becquerel1. Marie Curie

35. Louis de Broglie2. Ernest Rutherford

36. Charles Coulomb3. Lise Meitner

37. Georges Lemaitre4. Enrico Fermi

38. Christian Doppler

39. Lise MeitnerParticle physics

40. Hans Oersted1. Paul Dirac

41. Robert Boyle2. Richard Feynman

42. Hendrik Lorentz3. Murray Gell-Mann

43. Joseph Fraunhofer

44. Ludwig BoltzmannAstrophysics

45. Robert Hooke1. Edwin Hubble

46. Evangelista Torrecelli2. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

47. Wilhelm Weber3. Stephen Hawking

48. Ernst Mach

49. John Wheeler

50. Wilhelm Roentgen

(add) | Top 20 Existive
McKie Top 10

The following is an “Top 20 Living Physicists” list of the supposed greatest physicists existive (alive): (Ѻ)

1. Stephen Hawking
2. Freeman Dyson
3. Leo Kadanoff
4. Edward Witten
5. Yoichiro Nambu
6. Michael Fisher
7. Anthony Leggett
8. Peter Higgs
9. Frank Wilczek
10. Carl Wieman
11. Gerard ‘t Hooft
12. Tsung-Dao Lee
13. Alan Guth
14. David Thouless
15. Theodore Hansch
16. Peter Zoller
17. Alkexander Polyakov
18. Steven Weinberg
19. Chen Ning Yang
20. Martin Rees
In 2013, Robin Mckie, in her Guardian article “The 10 Best Physicists: From Subatomic to Cosmic, the Pick of the Pioneers” (Ѻ), using no discerning criterion, listed the following ten best physicists:

1. Isaac Newton
2. Niels Bohr
3. Galileo Galilei
4. Albert Einstein
5. James Maxwell
6. Michael Faraday
7. Marie Curie
8. Richard Feynman
9. Ernest Rutherford
10. Paul Dirac
Greatest physicists (top 10)
A caricature of ten top ranked physicists, from Newton to Dirac.
The following are related quotes:

Lorentz is the greatest and most powerful thinker I have ever known. I never met Gibbs, but, perhaps, had I done so, I might have placed him beside Lorentz.”
Albert Einstein (1954), aggregate quote

“Who was the last universal physicist? Perhaps that is already beyond us or perhaps there will still come one last physicist—the last man who actually combines those two areas in himself. I can give you an answer about the past: Enrico Fermi was certainly the last physicist of whom I know.”
— Johann Rafelski (1984), Why and How in Theoretical Physics [9]

“The top-ten physicists in history according to two polls have been announced. One of the polls was conducted by Physics World magazine, published by the Institute of Physics (IOP), the British professional organization of physicists celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The other was made by PhysicsWeb, also published by IOP on the web. We can extract another top-ten list from John Simmons' book (see: Simmons 100), which gives a ranking of 100 most influential scientists from the past to the present. Physicists are present in all the three lists: Newton, Einstein, Maxwell, Galilei, Bohr and Schrödinger. Four physicists appear twice: Dirac, Feynman, Faraday and Heisenberg. Planck, Rutherford, Kepler and Copernicus are found in a single list.”
— Tatsuo Tabata (1999), “The Top Ten Physicists” (Ѻ), Dec 5

See also
Greatest chemist ever
Greatest philosopher ever
Greatest mathematician ever
Greatest thermodynamicist ever
Greatest engineer ever
Last person to know everything
Universal genius
Last universal genius
Genius IQs (top 1000 geniuses)
● IQ: 200+ | Smartest person ever
● IQ: 150+ | Smartest woman ever

1. (a) Tindol, Robert. (1999). “Physics World poll names Richard Feynman one of the 10 Greatest Physicists of all Time” (link), Caltech Media Relations, Dec 02.
(b) Anon. (1999). “Einstein the Greatest”, BBC News, Nov 29.
2. (a) Greatest physicist of all time? (2005) –
(b) Greatest Physicist Ever (2007) –
3. (a) Anon. (2009). “The World’s Greatest Physicists (as Determined by the Wisdom of Crowds), The Physics arXiv Blog, Jun 6.
(b) Simkin, M.V. and Roychowdury, V.P. (2009). “Estimating Achievement from Fame”,, Jun 19.
4. Knowitz, Gavin. (2008). “50 Most Influential Physicists/Astronomers of All Time”,, Aug 08.
5. Anon. (1923). “Science: the Greatest Physicist”, Time, Apr. 07.
7. Cropper, William H. (2001). Great Physicists: the Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking. Oxford University Press.
8. Greatest physicist ever (2010-2012) - Rankopedia.
9. (a) Rafelski, Johann. (1984). Why and How in Theoretical Physics (pg. 3). University of Cape Town.
(b) Cronin, James W. (2004). Fermi Remembered (pg. 31). University of Chicago Press.
(c) Author. (2005). “The Last Universal Physicist”, Physics World, Apr. 1.
(d) Martin, Brian R. (2009). Nuclear and Particle Physics (quote: “Enrico Fermi was probably the last ‘universal physicist’.” pg. 69). Wiley.
10. Segre, Gino. (2013). Ordinary Geniuses: Max Delbruck, George Gamow, and the Origins of Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology. Publisher.

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