I collected 13 lists of the greatest or most important scientists of all time and collected them into one list. The results are below. This is a meta-list that ranks the scientists according to how many of the 13 lists they were were on, from the most listed scientists, whose names appeared on all 13 lists, to the scientists who appeared on at least two of the lists. Where there are multiple scientists in a rank, they are arranged chronologically by date of birth.
Marie Curie (Poland/France, 1867-1934)
Physicist and chemist. Radioactivity. Radium and polonium. Radioactive Substances (1904). (Nobel Prize in Physics 1903; Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1911)
Marie Curie in 1920.
Albert Einstein (Germany/US, 1879-1955)
Theoretical physicist. The special and general theories of relativity. The photoelectric effect. Brownian motion. Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1916). Ideas and Opinions (1995). (Nobel Prize in Physics 1921)
Albert Einstein in Vienna in 1921. Photo by F. Schmutzer.
Galileo Galilei (Italy, 1564-1642)
Physicist, astronomer, mathematician, inventor, engineer and philosopher. The law of falling bodies. The moons of Jupiter. Sunspots. The phases of Venus. Confirmed heliocentrism. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632).
Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Giusto Sustermans in 1636.
Sir Isaac Newton (England, 1643-1727)
Physicist, mathematician and inventor. Classical mechanics and the universal laws of motion. The law of universal gravitation. Calculus. The light spectrum and particle theory of light. The reflecting telescope. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687).
Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton painted in 1689 by Sir Godfrey Kneller.
Charles Darwin (UK: England, 1809-1882)
Biologist, naturalist and geologist. Evolution by means of natural selection. The Voyage of the Beagle (1845). The Origin of Species (1859).
Photograph of Charles Darwin in 1857.
James Clerk Maxwell (UK: Scotland, 1831-1879)
Physicist and mathematician. Electromagnetism (union of electricity, magnetism and light). The wave theory of light. Color photography. The Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. Matter and Motion (1888). A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1904).
An undated portrait of James Clerk Maxwell. This is an engraving by G. J. Stodart, based on a photograph by Fergus of Greenock.
Michael Faraday (UK: England, 1791-1867)
Experimental physicist, chemist and inventor. Electromagnetic induction. Diamagnetism. Electrolysis. Benzene. The electric generator.
Photograph of Michael Faraday from about 1861, probably taken by John Watkins.
Louis Pasteur (France, 1822-1895)
Microbiologist and chemist. The germ theory of disease. Vaccination using weakened bacteria. Pasteurization. The cause of fermentation.
An 1878 photograph of Louis Pasteur by Nadar.
Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US 1856-1943)
Electrical and mechanical engineer, inventor. Alternating current. The alternating current induction motor. The electric light. The Tesla coil. X-rays. Radio.
An 1890 photograph of Nicolas Tesla by Napoleon Sarony.
Neils Bohr (Denmark, 1885-1962)
Theoretical and experimental physicist. Quantum atomic structure. Quantum mechanics. Electron complementarity. Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature (1934).
(Nobel Prize in Physics 1922)
Niels Bohr in 1922.
Stephen Hawking (UK: England, 1942- )
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Quantum gravity. The nature of black holes. The origin of galaxies. A Brief History of Time (1988).
Stephen Hawking during a visit to NASA in the 1980s.
Aristotle (Ancient Greece, 384-322 BCE)
Philosopher and scientist. Early theory and observation in all fields of science and medicine. Physics (c. 330 BCE).
This marble bust of Aristotle is a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original by Lysippos, c. 330 BCE. The alabaster mantle is more recent.
Leonardo da Vinci (Italy, 1452-1519)
Artist, engineer, mathematician, anatomist, botanist, geologist and cartographer. Human anatomy. Fossils. The parachute. The helicopter.
Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci from about 1512.
Archimedes (Ancient Greece, c. 287-c. 212 BCE)
Physicist, mathematician, engineer and astronomer. The lever. The Archimedes screw. The mathematical precursors to calculus. The war catapult.
A 1620 painting of Archimedes by Domenico Fetti.
Nicolaus Copernicus (Royal Prussia, now Poland, 1473-1543)
Astronomer and mathematician. The heliocentric model of the solar system. On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres (1543).
A 1580 portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus. It is located in the Town Hall of Toruń, Poland.
Edwin Hubble (US, 1889-1953)
Astronomer and cosmologist. The expansion of the universe. The existence of other galaxies. The Hubble constant. The Realm of the Nebulae (1935).
A photograph of Edwin Hubble.
William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (UK: Northern Ireland, 1824-1907)
Physicist, mathematician and engineer. Electricity and magnetism. The second law of thermodynamics. Absolute zero.
A photograph of William Thomson, Lord Kelvin.
Linus Pauling (US, 1901-1994)
Chemist, biochemist, quantum chemist and molecular biologist. Atomic structure. Chemical bonds. Protein architecture. The Nature of the Chemical Bond (1960).
(Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1954)
A photograph of Linus Pauling.
Euclid (Ancient Greece: Egypt, fl. 300 BCE)
Mathematician. Geometry. The Elements (c. 300 BCE).
This statue of Euclid at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, UK was created by Joseph Durham between 1835 and 1877.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (Persia, c. 980-1037 CE)
Philosopher, physician, astronomer, geographer, geologist, psychologist, physicist and mathematician. Medicine. The scientific method.
Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna.
Andreas Vesalius (Hapsburg Netherlands, now Belgium, 1514-1564)
Physician and anatomist. Human anatomy. De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543).
An engraved portrait of Andreas Vesalius taken from his 1543 treatise.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (The Netherlands, 1632-1723)
Microbiologist. Bacteria and other microorganisms.
A portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje from between 1670 and 1693. It is located in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.
E.O. Wilson (US, 1929- )
Biologist, conservationist, sociobiologist and mymecologist. Ant behavior. Sociobiology. The Insect Societies (1971). Sociobiology (1975). The Ants (with Bert Holldobler) (1990).
René Descartes (France, 1596-1650)
Philosopher, mathematician and philosopher of science. The scientific method. Analytic geometry. Calculus. The law of refraction. La Géométrie (1637). Discourse on Method (1637).
A late 17th Century copy of Franz Hals’ 1649 portrait of René Descartes, now in the Louvre in Paris.
Christiaan Huygens (The Netherlands, 1629-1695)
Mathematician, astronomer, physicist, horologist and probabilist. Telescopes. The law of refraction. The wave theory of light. The rings and moon of Saturn. The pendulum clock.
A 1671 portrait of Christiaan Huygens by Caspar Netscher.
Henry Cavendish (England, 1731-1810)
Experimental and theoretical chemist and physicist. The composition of air. The properties of gases. The synthesis of water. Electrical attraction and repulsion. The density of the Earth.
Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmi (Persia, 780-850 CE)
Mathematician, astronomer and geographer. The Hindu-Arabic number system. Algebra. Geography. The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing (820 CE).
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.
Edmond Halley (England, 1656-1742)
Astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist and physicist. The nature of comets. Astronomical measurements.
A portrait of Edmond Halley by Godfrey Kneller, c. 1721.
Benjamin Franklin (US, 1706-1790)
Physicist, chemist, geographer, oceanographer, meteorologist and statistician. Electricity and lightning. The Gulf Stream. Bifocal lenses.
A 1785 portrait of Benjamin Franklin wearing his bifocal lenses by Charles Wilson Peale.
William Herschel (Germany/England, 1738-1822)
Astronomer, physicist and biologist. The planet Uranus and two moons. Two moons of Saturn. Infrared radiation. Coral.
A 1785 portrait of William Herschel by Lemuel Francis Abbott.
Edward Jenner (England, 1749-1823)
Physician, immunologist and biologist. Vaccination.
A portrait of Edward Jenner by James Northcote, from between 1803 and 1823, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Pierre-Simon Laplace (France, 1749-1827)
Mathematician, astronomer and statistician. Laplace’s equation. Probability and statistics. Black holes. Determinants. The Young-Laplace equation. The speed of sound.
Alexander von Humboldt (Germany, 1769-1859)
Geographer, geologist, biologist, meteorologist and biogeographer. The Jurassic Period. The Humboldt Current.
An 1843 portrait of Alexander von Humboldt by Joseph Karl Stieler.
Carl Friedrich Gauss (Germany, 1777-1855)
Mathematician, astronomer and geophysicist. Number theory. Algebra. Ceres. The heliotrope. Disquisitiones Arithmeticae (1801).
An 1840 portrait of Carl Friedrich Gauss by Christian Albrecht Jensen.
Charles Babbage (UK: England, 1791-1871)
Mathematician, mechanical engineer and inventor. Calculating machines: the difference engine and the programmable analytical calculator.
An 1860 photograph of Charles Babbage.
Francis Galton (UK: England, 1822-1911)
Psychologist, anthropologist, geographer, meteorologist, and statistician. Eugenics. Correlation and regression. Fingerprinting. Psychometrics. The Galton Whistle.
A photograph of Francis Galton from the 1850s.
Robert Koch (Germany, 1843-1910)
Physician, microbiologist and bacteriologist. The bacteria causing anthrax, tuberculosis and cholera. (Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine 1905)
A photograph of Robert Koch.
Alexander Graham Bell (UK: Scotland/US/Canada, 1847-1922)
Inventor, engineer and deaf educator. The telephone. The photophone. The metal detector.
A photograph of Alexander Graham Bell taken between 1914 and 1919.
Paul Ehrlich (Germany, 1854-1915)
Physician and immunologist. The magic bullet theory. Blood cells. Diphtheria. Chemotherapy. The side-chain theory. (Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine 1908)
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (India, 1888-1970)
Physicist. Raman scattering. The Raman effect. Quantum photo spin. Acoustics. Raman spectroscopy. (Nobel Prize in Physics 1930)
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.
Paul Dirac (UK: England, 1902-1984)
Theoretical physicist. Quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. The Dirac equation. Quantum field theories. Magnetic monopoles.
(Nobel Prize in Physics 1933)
John von Neumann (Hungary/US, 1903-1957)
Mathematician, physicist, economist, computer scientist and statistician. Continuous geometry. Measure theory. Lattice theory. Quantum mechanics. Game theory. Operator theory. The Ergodic theorem. Thermonuclear weapons. Computers. Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele (1928). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944).
A photograph of John von Neumann from the 1940s.
Hans Bethe (Germany/US, 1906-2005)
Nuclear physicist and astrophysicist. Quantum mechanics. Atomic nuclei. Stellar nucleosynthesis. Cosmic rays. Hydrogen energy levels.
(Nobel Prize in Physics 1967)
Rachel Carson (US, 1907-1964)
Marine biologist and conservationist. Effect of pesticides. The Sea Around Us (1951). Silent Spring (1962). The Sense of Wonder (1965).
A 1940 photograph of Rachel Carson.
Richard Feynman (US, 1918-1988)
Theoretical physicist. Quantum electrodynamics. The path integral formulation. Feynman diagrams. Supercooled liquid helium. Weak decay. The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1963). (Nobel Prize in Physics 1965)
Noam Chomsky (US, 1928- )
Cognitive scientist, linguist, logician and philosopher. Transformational grammar. Universal grammar. Generative grammar. Chomsky hierarchy. Syntactic Structures (1957).
Roger Penrose (UK: England, 1931- )
Physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. Moore-Penrose inverse. Penrose triangle. Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems. Penrose tilings. Big Bang. Consciousness.
Carl Sagan (US, 1934-1996)
Astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and educator. Surface temperature of Venus. Liquid on Europa. Organic material on Titan. Extraterrestrial life. Creating amino acids. The Cosmic Connection (1973). Cosmos (1985).
Stephen Jay Gould (US, 1941-2002)
Paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and science historian. Punctuated equilibrium. Land snails. Evolutionary theory. The Mismeasure of Man (1981). Wonderful Life (1989).
Stephen Jay Gould and friend.