Every once in a while, humanity decides to do better and take a leap forward to further its cause. These moves towards progress and novelty are often led by people who can see a little more than most people.
Today, we will look at 7 of history’s greatest geniuses and how they helped civilization move forward with their thought. We hope their stories and achievements inspire us to think beyond the box and reach for the stars.
1. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Considered the poster-physicist of genius, Albert Einstein was considered a slow learner in school. However, that did not deter him from thinking beyond what was known and developing his landmark general theory of relativity.
The theory suggested that gravitational forces can distort the fabric of space-time. This was a bold claim for 1915, and Einstein had to wait until 1919 before astronomer Arthur Eddington finally proved it. The proof made him an overnight celebrity and cemented his place as one of the best scientific minds of the 20th century.
He is also known for his special theory of relativity and the description of the photoelectric effect, which won him a Nobel Prize in 1921.
2. Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)
Winning one Nobel Prize is considered an achievement of a lifetime. But what would you call someone who has won two? In two different fields?
The only woman Nobel laureate to have achieved the feat, she was also the first recipient to receive two Nobel Prizes. She received her first prize in 1903 along with her husband Pierre Curie for their research on the radiation phenomenon.
Her next and only standalone Nobel prize in 1911 was awarded to Curie for her discovery of Radium and Polonium. To honor her genius and contributions to the world, the unit of radioactivity was named Curie. Unfortunately, her brilliance was cut short when she passed away from long-term radiation exposure.
3. Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)
Inventor, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and futurist – quite a long list of titles for any one man. Unless, of course, you are talking about Nikola Tesla.
Tesla is known worldwide for his invention of alternating current, which is predominantly used even today! Born in the Austrian Empire, he studied physics and engineering in the 1870s but dropped out before graduating with a degree.
He then followed his quest for practical knowledge and worked for Thomas Edison during his early days. However, he soon decided to venture out as a visionary and inventor. He later developed the polyphase system and the induction motor, both patented by Westinghouse electric and helped him earn considerably.
Tesla also successfully built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first specimens. In 1960, he was posthumously honored by the General Conference on Weights and Measures, which named the SI unit of magnetic flux density as tesla. His name lives on as one of history’s greatest geniuses.
4. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Probably one of the first renowned polymaths in the modern age, Leonardo Da Vinci was a crucial figure in the Italian Renaissance and one of history’s greatest geniuses. He had many laurels, that included being a painter, draughtsman, architect, sculptor, inventor, scientist, and theorist.
While Da Vinci’s initial acceptance came as a painter, his work on the notebooks brought him recognition as a multi-faceted genius.
He made astute observations and theories on several subjects, including botany, paleontology, cartography, anatomy, and astronomy.
Considered a master of painting, he is credited with the rise of the High Renaissance during the period. Some of his most famous paintings are The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vitruvian Man.
5. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937)
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose belonged to a generation that was thirsty for knowledge and contributed immensely to the growth of human civilization. He was a botanist, a physicist, a biologist, and a science fiction writer.
One could consider Bose to be one of the prominent figures in the rise of Indian experimental science. However, he is most well-known for spearheading radio technology and microwave optics research. Without the invention of the radio, wireless communication would have been practically impossible!
Bose was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. He also invented the Cresco graph, which is used to measure the growth of plants.
6. Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)
Who do we thank today for being able to understand our origins as a species?
None other than the writer of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin. Darwin was an English biologist, geologist, and naturalist considered one of history’s greatest geniuses.
He is best known for proposing the theory of evolution, which states that we originate from other, more primitive primates. Darwin based his findings on the concept of natural selection, a phenomenon that caused the evolutionary branching of species to survive.
However, since his ideas were too bold for his time, they have often been shrugged aside. It was not until the emergence of modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that his theories were considered a fundamental guiding principle. His findings also helped support the conception of gradual change in geology by Charles Lyell.
Darwin’s works have become the unifying theory of life science, deciphering life’s diversity.
7. Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727)
How would you explain the world around you if you did not understand gravity?
Or if you did not know that colors are inherently present in white light?
One of the most significant people to thank for our understanding of the world today is Sir Isaac Newton.
He discovered gravity and the color spectrum of white light and worked on the speed of sound, explained how the world moves around the Sun, and how stars originate. If all this was not enough, Newton also deduced the three laws of motion and inertia!
He also contributed to classical mechanics, optics, and even developed calculus. Describing himself as a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, author, and theologian, Newton is the mind behind the first reflective telescope.
Do you know a similar personality whose contributions have shaped our world?
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