Joseph Stanga

Executive Director, Wichita Con 2012

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Who are the 3 most influential scientists of all time?

I have been reading My Inventions, the autobiography of Nikola Tesla. I was no more than a few pages in when I was struck with an awful realization: For all the wondrous ideas and technologies Tesla had, he was cursed with being an awful writer! Is this one of the reasons he is not more widely-regarded?

It got me to thinking: Who are the three most influential scientists of all time?

It would be hard to nail down a precise list. Should I include statesmen whose influence in political matters led the way for scientific discovery, such as Thomas Jefferson's interest in archaeology? Should I include theorists who never saw any practical application for their ideas? Should I include inventors, such as Gutenberg, who helped pave the way for mass literacy and the transmission of ideas? Should I include living scientists, who may or may not have reached the zenith of their influence, or whose work has yet to be fully realized? Should I include authors who wrote science fiction and thus helped influence the field of science itself despite the fact they may not have been scientists in the truest sense of the word?

With so many questions, and realizing that there would be much cultural bias to which I would be subjected in pursuit of an answer, I thought it best to:

A: Name 3, off the top of my head.
B: Ask TED.

Mine are:

Archimedes ("Eureka!" -- Principle of Displacement)
Al-Kindi (Preservation of Greek philosophy/science, innovator, Golden Age of Islam)
Tesla (Alternating Current, Tesla Coil, Wireless Information Networks, innovator)

  • Jan 8 2012: Isaac Newton
    Albert Einstein

    Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are obvious. Euclid on the other hand is a mathematician who came up with several astounding proofs.
  • Feb 3 2012: I will nominate three modern scientists, otherwise, I find it too tough to answer.
    The most influential... For who? For scientists? Or for us all? during their time? Or still influential?
    I am not an expert. But here what comes to me:
    - leonardo da Vinci: a father of modern science
    - Charles Darwin
    - Albert Einstein
    They represent I think, a good mixture, spread in time, of most influential scientists, for scientists, for the population, during their time and during contemporary time.
    The most influential contemporary scientist for the mass, today, is, maybe Michio Kaku.
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    Jan 28 2012: My list :

    1. I
    2. I
    3. I............ because I don't know anybody better than me .
  • Jan 12 2012: the man who created fire...coincidence,
    the man who started counting...representation, and
    the man who started drawing... imagination
  • Jan 10 2012: A top 3 is awfully difficult.
    For example do we look back to those who played a significant role in the early progression of science such as Aristarchus, Aristotle and Hippocrates..
    Do we look to the past who played a significant role into bringing us into the modern scientific era such as Newton, Darwin and Galileo..
    Or do we look to the modern scientists who sustain our interest of science far into the future such as Sagan, Hawking and Kaku..?

    I guess mine would be
    Aristotle, Einstein and Hawking at a push.
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    Jan 10 2012: In my view Issac Newton, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin

    Issac Newton - explained the Universal Gravitation and three laws of motion, and he was able to prove that the reason of both the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are controlled by the same Neutral laws.

    Albert Einstein - theory of relativity

    Charles Darwin - English naturalist who realised and presented compelling evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors, through the process he called natural selection.