Lv 5
JD asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 5 months ago

Who are the most significant physicists of all time?

I always assumed it was Einstein but I guess I was wrong. I was at a wedding reception for an old friend of mine, incidentally he is a physics instructor , and I was seated with his friends, both majored in physics. They told me the top three.

1- Galileo


3- Niels Bohr ( never heard of him ).

Neither one put Einstein in the top 5.

8 Answers

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    i think the most significant physicists are newton and einstein; newton established the realm of classical physics, while einstein started the realm of modern and quantum physics

  • 5 months ago

    Every great scientist builds on the work of others then develops new insights. So the previous scientists are just as significant as Einstein and Hawking and other modern ones.

  • 5 months ago

    I would not hesitate to name Newton top for PHYSICS.

    The breadth of his works is truly astounding. And done without the benefit of modern equipment too.

    Galileo could be seen as the father of SCIENCE and the scientific method.

    Then you have famous Greek philosophers.

    If you measure it by the number of different areas and the amount of use made of their knowledge there is not one bridge that stands without following the laws of Newton.

    No planetary motion can be understood without them.

    No race cars.

    Not to mention the use of calculus. Or of the discussions of optics.

    In permeating every facet of modern life there is no equivalent to Newton's works.

    Einstein made a limited set of theories. However I claim that the ONLY reason his works were given a cult status is that they gave the processes that created the atom bomb.

    I forget who made the statement but someone proposed that the one true way to become rich is to give humans a better way to kill each other.

  • 5 months ago

    Generally this site deals with scientific facts. This question deals with opinion. Choosing the best, most and least are very subjective opinions not facts.

    You will get widely varying opinions on this question.

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  • Dixon
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    When you ask academics questions like this it is a game to them and one of the rules is that you don't give the obvious answer, you show off by justifying less well known or expected people. The problem in comparing scientists from vastly different periods of history is that the nature of their work is so different and so you can justify almost any scientist who was at the top during their own era.

    The fact is that most famous scientists were just men of their time and if they hadn't done their work and made discoveries, someone else would have done it in the same era. But Einstein's work on General Relativity was decades ahead of its time and his six papers in 1905 were and still are an unmatched achievement. The only comparable achievement was Newton's early work.

    But something not usually realised by the public is that Einstein effectively wasted his later years by taking a fruitless stance against quantum mechanics which was the equivalent someone like Neil Degrasse Tyson becoming a flat Earther. So for this reason and also playing the game, an academic might want to dismiss Einstein. But they are wrong.

    A measure of great / significant work is that the whole field looks different afterwards. And by that measure the work of Newton and Einstein did radically transform the field. Bohr did some great stuff but really he was one of many scientists chasing the tail of quantum mechanics, a field which was largely kicked into existence by Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect, with its quantising of light into discrete photons. This was based on Plank's earlier black body radiation work, the difference being that Plank considered it an inexplicable mathematical trick that made the calculations match the data, whereas Einstein decided to believe the face value of the mathematics and run with it.

    It reminds me of a story where a critic said that if you ask modern violinists to list the best violinists, Yehudi Menuhin doesn't even make the top 50. But if you ask them to perform Elgar's violin concerto they all go straight to his recording of it.

  • oubaas
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    Archimede, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell....

  • Vaman
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    I put the list this way. Aristotle, Archimedes, Galileo, Gauss, Newton and Einstein. There will be a big gap between these and scientists you have mentioned.

    • Dixon
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      A genius at always getting it wrong

  • 5 months ago

    In my Humble Opinion.

    First is Newton, second is Einstein and third is James Clerk Maxwell.

    I see Newton as a true Genius.

    However, it all depends upon how you interpret the word, "significant."

    • Dixon
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      I think lots of people could go with this answer

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