One of the best known and most renowned scientists in history, Richard Feynman pioneered quantum mechanics. His knack for accessible explanations made him a popularizer of physics of equal distinction to laypeople.
Richard Feynman began his career at a crossroads in history, assisting the Manhattan Project with the development of the atomic bomb. Soon he was producing breakthrough understandings of particle physics and quantum mechanics, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1965. His pictorial representations of the actions of subatomic particles are still widely used today (they're now called Feynman diagrams).
Feynman acted as an adviser on the commission investigating the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Books based on his lectures and conversations became best-sellers, and cemented him in the public mind as an explainer of science. He was a legendary prankster, a charismatic free-thinker and an avid bongoist.