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Topics The most influential scientists
Submitted by einsteinish
Date Submitted Wed 01 Jun 2016

Alan Guth

Alan Harvey Guth (born February 27, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Guth has researched elementary particle theory (and how particle theory is applicable to the early universe).

He is currently serving as Victor Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Along with Alexei Starobinsky and Andrei Linde, he won the 2014 Kavli Prize “for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation.”

Brian Schmidt

Brian Paul Schmidt (born February 24, 1967) is the Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU). He was previously a Distinguished Professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and astrophysicist at the University's Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and he is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes.

He currently holds an Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2012.

Schmidt shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, making him the only Montana-born Nobel laureate.

Brian Green

Brian Randolph Greene (born February 9, 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996 and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008.

Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different Calabi–Yau manifolds (concretely, relating the conifold to one of its orbifolds). He also described the flop transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point.

Greene has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and related PBS television specials. He also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode "The Herb Garden Germination", as well as the films Frequency and The Last Mimzy. He is currently a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Lawrence Kraus

Lawrence Maxwell Krauss (born 27 May 1954) is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project.

He is known as an advocate of the public understanding of science, of public policy based on sound empirical data, of scientific skepticism and of science education, and works to reduce the influence of what he opines as superstition and religious dogma in popular culture.

Krauss is the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of Star Trek (1995) and A Universe from Nothing (2012), and chairs the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors.

Frank Wilczek

Frank Anthony Wilczek (born May 15, 1951) is an American theoretical physicist, mathematician and a Nobel laureate. He is currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as full Professor at Stockholm University.

Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Future of Life Institute.

David Gross

David Jonathan Gross (born February 19, 1941) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of asymptotic freedom.

He is the former director and current holder of the Frederick W. Gluck Chair in Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also a faculty member in the UC Santa Barbara Physics Department and is currently affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He is the Foreign Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Wendy Freedman

Wendy Laurel Freedman (born July 17, 1957) is a Canadian-American astronomer, best known for her measurement of the Hubble Constant, and as director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Las Campanas, Chile. She is now the John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago.

Her principle research interests are in observational cosmology, focusing on measuring both the current and past expansion rates of the universe, and on characterizing the nature of dark energy.

Maria Spiropulu

Maria Spiropulu (born 1970), is an experimental physicist at the California Institute of Technology. She is a member of the CMS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider where the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012.

In 2014 she was elected to the chair line of the Forum on International Physics of the American Physical Society, and will serve as chair in 2016. She is a member of the Fermilab Physics Advisory Committee and beginning in 2016 is a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Spiropulu is the academic great-granddaughter of Enrico Fermi, via her doctoral advisor John Huth and his advisor Owen Chamberlain.

George Fitzgerald Smoot

George Fitzgerald Smoot III (born February 20, 1945) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, Nobel laureate, and one of two contestants to win the US$1 million prize on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?.

He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer with John C. Mather that led to the "discovery of the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation". However, recently , it was discovered that Smoot omitted the fact that Richard Muller had come up with the idea. Smoot ended up taking the credit in a greed for fame.

This work helped further the Big Bang theory of the universe using the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science." Smoot donated his share of the Nobel Prize money, less travel costs, to a charitable foundation.

Currently Smoot is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and since 2010, a professor of physics at the Paris Diderot University, France. In 2003, he was awarded the Einstein Medal and the Oersted Medal in 2009

Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter (born September 22, 1959) is an American astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Perlmutter shared the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Brian P. Schmidt and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

Neil Turok

Turok was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Mary (Butcher) and Latvian-born Ben Turok, who were activists in the anti-apartheid movement and the African National Congress. After graduating from Churchill College, Cambridge, Turok gained his doctorate from Imperial College, London, under the supervision of Professor David Olive, one of the inventors of superstring theory. After a postdoctoral post at Santa Barbara, he was an associate scientist at Fermilab, Chicago.

In 1992 he was awarded the Maxwell medal of the Institute of Physics for his contributions to theoretical physics. In 1994 he was appointed Professor of Physics at Princeton University, then held the Chair of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge starting in 1997. He was appointed Director of the Perimeter Institute in 2008.

Paul Steinhardt

Paul Joseph Steinhardt (born December 25, 1952) is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is currently the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University.

In addition, Steinhardt co-founded and is the current Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics in 1997 and has been a research associate in the department since 2003.

Since 2009, he has hosted the weekly podcast Star Talk. In 2014, he hosted the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a successor to Carl Sagan's 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences awarded Tyson the Public Welfare Medal in 2015 for his "extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science".


Michio Kaku (born January 24, 1947) is a Japanese-American futurist, theoretical physicist and popularizer of science. Kaku is a professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York.

He has written several books about physics and related topics, has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film, and writes online blogs and articles. He has written three New York Times best sellers: Physics of the Impossible (2008), Physics of the Future (2011), and The Future of the Mind (2014).

Kaku has hosted several TV specials for the BBC, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and the Science Channel.

Leonard Susskind

Leonard Susskind (born June, 1940) is the professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University, and director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology.

Susskind is widely regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, having, with Yoichiro Nambu and Holger Bech Nielsen, independently introduced the idea that particles could in fact be states of excitation of a relativistic string. He was the first to give a precise string-theory interpretation of the holographic principle in 1995 and the first to introduce the idea of the string theory landscape in 2003.

Andreas Albrecht

Andreas J. Albrecht is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor and chair of the Physics Department at the University of California, Davis.

He is one of the founders of inflationary cosmology and studies the formation of the early universe, cosmic structure, and dark energy.

Andrei Linde

Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde (born March 2, 1948) is a Russian-American theoretical physicist and the Harald Trap Friis Professor of Physics at Stanford University. Linde is one of the main authors of the inflationary universe theory, as well as the theory of eternal inflation and inflationary multiverse.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Moscow State University. In 1975, Linde was awarded a Ph.D. from the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow. He worked at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) since 1989 and moved to the USA in 1990 where he became Professor of Physics at Stanford University.

Among the various awards he's received for his work on inflation, in 2002 he was awarded the Dirac Medal, along with Alan Guth of MIT and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University. In 2004 he received, along with Alan Guth, the Gruber Prize in Cosmology for the development of inflationary cosmology. He received the Kavli Prize in Astrophysics “for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation", together with Alan Guth and Alexei Starobinsky in 2014.

John Kovac

John M. Kovac (born 1970) is an American physicist and astronomer. His cosmology research, conducted at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, focuses on observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) to reveal signatures of the physics that drove the birth of the universe, the creation of its structure, and its present-day expansion.

Currently, Kovac is an Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Harvard University.

Katherine Freese

Katherine Freese, a theoretical astrophysicist, is the George Eugene Uhlenbeck Collegiate Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. Starting in September 2014, she assumed the position of Director of Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Stockholm, and holds a position as Visiting Professor of Physics at Stockholm University.

She is known for her work in theoretical cosmology at the interface of particle physics and astrophysics.

Gerard 't Hooft

Gerardus (Gerard) 't Hooft (born July 5, 1946) is a Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G. Veltman "for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions".

His work concentrates on gauge theory, black holes, quantum gravity and fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. His contributions to physics include a proof that gauge theories are renormalizable, dimensional regularization, and the holographic principle.

Alexei Filippenko

Alexei Vladimir "Alex" Filippenko (born July 25, 1958) is an American astrophysicist and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Filippenko graduated from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1979 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1984, where he was a Hertz Foundation Fellow. He was a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley and was subsequently appointed to a faculty position at the same institution.

He was later named a Miller Research Professor for Spring 1996 and Spring 2005. His research focuses on supernovae and active galaxies at optical, ultraviolet, and near-infrared wavelengths.

Sean M. Carroll

Sean Michael Carroll (born 5 October 1966) is a cosmologist and Physics professor specializing in dark energy and general relativity. He is a research professor in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals and magazines such as Nature, Seed, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist.

He has appeared on the History Channel's The Universe, Science Channel's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Carroll is the author of Spacetime And Geometry, a graduate-level textbook in general relativity, and has also recorded lectures for The Great Courses on cosmology, the physics of time, and the Higgs boson.

He is also the author of two popular books: one on the arrow of time entitled From Eternity to Here and one on the Higgs boson entitled The Particle at the End of the Universe.

Brian Cox

Brian Edward Cox, OBE FRS (born 3 March 1968[3][9]) is an English physicist, and Advanced Fellow of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester.

He is best known to the public as the presenter of science programmes, especially the Wonders of... series and for popular science books, such as Why Does E=mc²? and The Quantum Universe.

Cox has been described as the natural successor for BBC's scientific programming by both David Attenborough and the late Patrick Moore.

Before his academic career, Cox was a keyboard player for the bands D:Ream and Dare.

Max Tegmark

Max Erik Tegmark[1] (born 5 May 1967) is a Swedish-American cosmologist. Tegmark is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute.

He is also a co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, and has accepted donations from Elon Musk to investigate existential risk from advanced artificial intelligence.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen William Hawking, (born 8 January 1942) is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and has achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Roger Penrose

Roger Penrose (born 8 August 1931) is an English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, as well as an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College.

Penrose is known for his work in mathematical physics, in particular for his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received several prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe.

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg (born May 3, 1933) is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.

He holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1991 the National Medal of Science.

In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is "considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today." He has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain's Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Weinberg's articles on various subjects occasionally appear in The New York Review of Books and other periodicals. He has served as consultant at the U. S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, President of the Philosophical Society of Texas, and member of the Board of Editors of Daedalus magazine, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, the JASON group of defense consultants, and many other boards and committees.

Andrew E. Strominger

Andrew Eben Strominger (born 1955) is an American theoretical physicist who has made groundbreaking contributions to quantum gravity and string theory. These include his seminal work on Calabi-Yau compactification and topology change in string theory, and on the stringy origin of black hole entropy. He is a senior fellow at the Society of Fellows, and is the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics and the Director of the Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature at Harvard University, where his father Jack L. Strominger is also a professor.

Strominger completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard in 1977 before attending the University of California, Berkeley for his Masters. He received his PhD from MIT in 1982 under the supervision of Roman Jackiw. Prior to joining Harvard as a professor in 1997, he held a faculty position at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of over 200 publications.

Adam Riess

Adam Guy Riess (born December 16, 1969) is an American astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute and is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes.

Riess shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Brian P. Schmidt for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

William Daniel Phillips

William Daniel Phillips (born November 5, 1948) is a Nobel Prize award winning, American physicist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1997, with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.

Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin (born 1955) is an American theoretical physicist, a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto.

Smolin is best known for his contributions to quantum gravity theory, in particular the approach known as loop quantum gravity. He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory, can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory. His research interests also include cosmology, elementary particle theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics, and theoretical biology.

Edward Witten

Edward Witten (born August 26, 1951) is an American theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Witten is a researcher in string theory, quantum gravity, supersymmetric quantum field theories, and other areas of mathematical physics.

In addition to his contributions to physics, Witten's work has significantly impacted pure mathematics. In 1990 he became the first and so far the only physicist to be awarded a Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union.

In 2004, Time magazine stated that Witten is widely thought to be the world's smartest living theoretical physicist.

Sylvester James Gates

Sylvester James Gates Jr. (born December 15, 1950), known as S. James Gates Jr. or Jim Gates, is an American theoretical physicist, known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory.

He is currently a professor in the physics department at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, a University of Maryland Regents Professor and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Peter Higgs

Peter Ware Higgs (born 29 May 1929) is a British theoretical physicist, emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh, and Nobel Prize laureate for his work on the mass of subatomic particles.

In the 1960s, he proposed that broken symmetry in electroweak theory could explain the origin of mass of elementary particles in general and of the W and Z bosons in particular. This so-called Higgs mechanism, which was proposed by several physicists besides Higgs at about the same time, predicts the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson, the detection of which became one of the great goals of physics.

CERN announced on 4 July 2012 that they had experimentally established the existence of a Higgs-like boson, but further work would be needed to analyse its properties and see whether it had the properties expected from the Standard Model Higgs boson. On 14 March 2013, the newly discovered particle was tentatively confirmed to be + parity and zero spin, two fundamental criteria of a Higgs boson, making it the first known fundamental scalar particle to be discovered in nature.

The Higgs mechanism is generally accepted as an important ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics, without which certain particles would have no mass.

John Ellis

Jonathan Richard Ellis CBE FRS (born 1 July 1946) is a British theoretical physicist who is currently Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College London.

After completing his secondary education at Highgate School, he attended King's College, Cambridge, earning his Ph.D. in theoretical (high-energy) particle physics in 1971. After brief post-doc positions at SLAC and Caltech, he went to CERN and has held an indefinite contract there since 1978.

He was awarded the Maxwell Medal and the Paul Dirac Prize by the Institute of Physics in 1982 and 2005 respectively, and is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London since 1985 and of the Institute of Physics since 1991. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton, and twice won the First Award in the Gravity Research Foundation essay competition (in 1999 and 2005). He is also Honorary Doctor at Uppsala University.

Ellis' activities at CERN are wide-ranging.[4][5] He was twice Deputy Division Leader for the theory ("TH") division, and served as Division Leader for 1988–1994. He was a founding member of the LEPC and of the LHCC; currently he is chair of the committee to investigate physics opportunities for future proton accelerators, and is a member of the extended CLIC (Compact Linear Collider) Steering Committee. Ellis was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to science and technology.

Don Lincoln

Don Lincoln (born 1964) is an American particle physics researcher at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. He received a Ph.D. in experimental particle physics from Rice University in 1994. In 1995, he was a codiscoverer of the top quark. He has coauthored hundreds of research papers and, more recently, was a member of the team finding evidence for the Higgs boson.

Lincoln is a public speaker and science writer and has contributed many science articles in magazines that include Analog Science Fiction and Fact in July 2009, Scientific American in November 2012 and July 2015, and The Physics Teacher at least six times.

He is also the author of books describing particle physics written for the public. They are "Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos (Revised edition)" (2012) and "The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider" (2009) and "The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Things That Will Blow Your Mind" (2014)

Fay Dowker

(Helen) Fay Dowker (born 1965 in Manchester, Lancashire) is a British Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London.

She is currently a Professor of Theoretical Physics and a member of the Theoretical Physics Group at Imperial College London and an Affiliate of the Institute for Quantum Computing. She conducts research in a number of areas of theoretical physics including quantum gravity and causal set theory.

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