Get to know these pioneers who went down in history for their groundbreaking work, including scientists behind common terms such as Amp, Celsius, Kelvin, hertz and tesla.
Although he was not the first person to observe a connection between electricity and magnetism, André-Marie Ampère was the first scientist to attempt to theoretically explain and mathematically describe the phenomenon.
Svante Arrhenius was born in Vik, Sweden, and became the first native of that country to win the Nobel Prize.
John Bardeen was one of a handful of individuals awarded the Nobel Prize twice and the first scientist to win dual awards in physics.
J. Georg Bednorz jointly revolutionized superconductivity research with K. Alex Müller by discovering an entirely new class of superconductors, often referred to as high-temperature superconductors.
A native of Germany, the physicist Gerd Binnig co-developed the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) with Heinrich Rohrer while the pair worked together at the IBM Research Laboratory in Switzerland.
Physicist Felix Bloch developed a non-destructive technique for precisely observing and measuring the magnetic properties of nuclear particles.
Walter Houser Brattain discovered the photo-effect that occurs at the free surface of a semiconductor and was co-creator of the point-contact transistor, which paved the way for the more advanced types of transistors that eventually replaced vacuum tubes in almost all electronic devices in the latter half of the 20th century.
Anders Celsius is most familiar as the inventor of the temperature scale that bears his name.
Leon Cooper shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics with John Bardeen and Robert Schrieffer, with whom he developed the first widely accepted theory of superconductivity.
Born in Palo Alto, California, and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts – homes to Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively – you could say Eric Cornell was destined to become a renowned scientist.
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb invented a device, dubbed the torsion balance, that allowed him to measure very small charges and experimentally estimate the force of attraction or repulsion between two charged bodies.
English scientist William Crookes was very innovative in his investigations with vacuum tubes and designed a variety of different types to be used in his experimental work.
Humphry Davy was a pioneer in the field of electrochemistry who used electrolysis to isolate many elements from the compounds in which they occur naturally.
Peter Debye carried out pioneering studies of molecular dipole moments, formulated theories of magnetic cooling and of electrolytic dissociation, and developed an X-ray diffraction technique for use with powdered, rather than crystallized, substances.
American inventor Lee De Forest was a pioneer of radio and motion pictures.
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was an outstanding twentieth century theoretical physicist whose work was fundamental to the development of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.
Willem Einthoven invented a string galvanometer that could be used to directly record the electrical activity of the heart.
Vásárosnaményi Báró Eötvös Loránd, better known as Roland EEötvös or Loránd Eötvös throughout much of the world, was a Hungarian physicist who is most recognized for his extensive experimental work involving gravity, but who also made significant studies of capillarity and magnetism.
A self-educated man with a brilliant mind, Michael Faraday was born in a hardscrabble neighborhood in London.
Enrico Fermi was a titan of twentieth-century physics.
Theoretical physicist Richard Phillips Feynman greatly simplified the way in which the interactions of particles could be described through his introduction of the diagrams that now bear his name (Feynman diagrams) and was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his reworking of quantum electrodynamics (QED).
John Ambrose Fleming was an electronics pioneer who invented the oscillation valve, or vacuum tube, a device that would help make radios, televisions, telephones and even early electronic computers possible.
Luigi Galvani was a pioneer in the field of electrophysiology, the branch of science concerned with electrical phenomena in the body.
Although he is best known as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, Carl Friedrich Gauss was also a pioneer in the study of magnetism and electricity.
Murray Gell-Mann is a theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1969 for his contributions to elementary particle physics.
William Gilbert was an English physician and natural philosopher who wrote a six-volume treatise that compiled all of the information regarding magnetism and electricity known at the time.
Joseph Henry was an American scientist who pioneered the construction of strong, practical electromagnets and built one of the first electromagnetic motors.
The discovery of radio waves, which was widely seen as confirmation of James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory and paved the way for numerous advances in communication technology, was made by German physicist Heinrich Hertz.
Karl Jansky, who discovered extraterrestrial radio waves while investigating possible sources of interference in shortwave radio communications across the Atlantic for Bell Laboratories, is often known as the father of radio astronomy.
James Prescott Joule experimented with engines, electricity and heat throughout his life.
The integrated circuit fueled the rise of microelectronics in the latter half of the twentieth century and paved the way for the Information Age. An American engineer, Jack Kilby, invented the integrated circuit in 1958, shortly after he began working at Texas Instruments.
Klaus von Klitzing is a Nobel laureate who won the prestigious award in 1985 for his discovery of the quantized Hall effect, sometimes referred to as the quantum Hall effect.
For a man whose career involved entire known universe, John Kraus had a remarkably insular upbringing.
While growing up in the Soviet Union, Lev Landau was so far ahead of his classmates that he was ready to begin college at age 13.
Chemist Paul Lauterbur pioneered the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for medical imaging.
At the turn of the 19th century, scientists were beginning to gain a rudimentary understanding of electricity and magnetism, but they knew almost nothing about the relationship between the two.
Siegmund Loewe was a German engineer and businessman that developed vacuum tube forerunners of the modern integrated circuit.
Theodore Maiman built the world's first operable laser, which utilized a small synthetic rod with silvered ends to produce a narrow beam of monochromatic light with a wavelength of approximately 694 nanometers.
James Clerk Maxwell was one of the most influential scientists of the nineteenth century.
Walther Meissner discovered while working with Robert Ochsenfeld that superconductors expel relatively weak magnetic fields from their interior and are strongly diamagnetic.
Robert Andrews Millikan was a prominent American physicist who made lasting contributions to both pure science and science education.
In their search for new superconductors, Swiss theoretical physicist Karl Alexander Müller and his young colleague, J. Georg Bednorz, abandoned the metal alloys typically used in superconductivity research in favor of a class of oxides known as perovskites.
Georg Simon Ohm had humble roots and struggled financially throughout most of his life, but the German physicist is well known today for his formulation of a law, termed Ohm's law, describing the mathematical relationship between electrical current, resistance and voltage.
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes was a Dutch physicist who first observed the phenomenon of superconductivity while carrying out pioneering work in the field of cryogenics.
A discovery by Hans Christian Ørsted forever changed the way scientists think about electricity and magnetism.
Austrian-born scientist Wolfgang Ernst Pauli made numerous important contributions to twentieth-century theoretical physics, including explaining the Zeeman effect, first postulating the existence of the neutrino, and developing what has come to be known as the Pauli exclusion principle.
Although he didn't start studying physics until he retired from the clock-making business at age 30, French native Jean Peltier made immense contributions to science that still reverberate today.
In a career that lasted seven decades, Max Planck achieved an enduring legacy with groundbreaking discoveries involving the relationship between heat and energy, but he is most remembered as the founder of the "quantum theory."
Edward Mills Purcell was an American physicist who received half of the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics with for his development of a new method of ascertaining the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei.
Isidor Isaac Rabi won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944 for his development of a technique for measuring the magnetic characteristics of atomic nuclei.
Swiss physicist Heinrich Rohrer co-invented the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), a non-optical instrument that allows the observation of individual atoms in three dimensions, with Gerd Binnig.
Theoretical physicist Julian Schwinger used the mathematical process of renormalization to rid the quantum field theory developed by Paul Dirac of serious incongruities with experimental observations that had nearly prompted the scientific community to abandon it.
Claude Shannon was a mathematician and electrical engineer whose work underlies modern information theory and helped instigate the digital revolution.
William Bradford Shockley was head of the solid-state physics team at Bell Labs that developed the first point-contact transistor, which he quickly followed up with the invention of the more advanced junction transistor.
In 1866, the research of Werner von Siemens would lead to his discovery of the dynamo electric principle that paved the way for the large-scale generation of electricity through mechanical means.
Awarded more than 100 patents over the course of his lifetime, Nikola Tesla was a man of considerable genius and vision.
Joseph John Thomson, better known as J. J. Thomson, was a British physicist who first theorized and offered experimental evidence that the atom was a divisible entity rather than the basic unit of matter, as was widely believed at the time.
William Thomson, known as Lord Kelvin, was one of the most eminent scientists of the nineteenth century and is best known today for inventing the international system of absolute temperature that bears his name.
Japanese theoretical physicist Sin-Itiro Tomonaga resolved key problems with the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) developed by Paul Dirac in the late 1920s through the use of a mathematical technique he referred to as renormalization.
Alessandro Volta was an Italian scientist whose skepticism of Luigi Galvani's theory of animal electricity led him to propose that an electrical current is generated by contact between different metals.
The Scottish instrument maker and inventor James Watt had a tremendous impact on the shape of modern society.
Researching magnetism with the great mathematician and astronomer Karl Friedrich Gauss in the 1830s, German physicist Wilhelm Weber developed and enhanced a variety of devices for sensitively detecting and measuring magnetic fields and electrical currents.
Carl Edwin Wieman is one of three physicists credited with the discovery of a fifth phase of matter, for which he was awarded a share of the prestigious Nobel Prize in 2001.