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Who are the most influential thinkers in world?

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Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.

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List of the most influential people in Chemistry, for the years 1200 – 2020

Linus Pauling
# 1
Linus Pauling

1901 - 1994 (93 years)

#72 person's overall influence

Linus Carl Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, chemical engineer, peace activist, author, and educator. He published more than 1,200 papers and books, of which about 850 dealt with scientific topics. New Scientist called him one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time, and as of 2000, he was rated the 16th most important scientist in history. For his scientific work, Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. For his peace activism, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. He is one of four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize . Of these, he is the

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier
# 2
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier

1743 - 1794 (51 years)

#214 person's overall influence

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier , also Antoine Lavoisier after the French Revolution, was a French nobleman and chemist who was central to the 18th-century chemical revolution and who had a large influence on both the history of chemistry and the history of biology. He is widely considered in popular literature as the "father of modern chemistry".

Robert Boyle
# 3
Robert Boyle

1626 - 1691 (65 years)

#113 person's overall influence

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. He is best known for Boyle's law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. Among his works, The Sceptical Chymist is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry. He was a devout and pious Anglic...

Marie Curie
# 4
Marie Curie

1867 - 1934 (67 years)

#184 person's overall influence

Marie Skłodowska Curie , born Maria Salomea Skłodowska , was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

Justus von Liebig
# 5
Justus von Liebig

1803 - 1873 (70 years)

#510 person's overall influence

Justus Freiherr von Liebig was a German scientist who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and is considered one of the principal founders of organic chemistry. As a professor at the University of Giessen, he devised the modern laboratory-oriented teaching method, and for such innovations, he is regarded as one of the greatest chemistry teachers of all time. He has been described as the "father of the fertilizer industry" for his emphasis on nitrogen and trace minerals as essential plant nutrients, and his formulation of the law of the minimum, which described ho

Isaac Newton
# 6
Isaac Newton

1642 - 1727 (85 years)

#5 person's overall influence

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica , first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.

Niels Bohr
# 7
Niels Bohr

1885 - 1962 (77 years)

#81 person's overall influence

Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research.

Otto Hahn
# 8
Otto Hahn

1879 - 1968 (89 years)

#295 person's overall influence

Otto Hahn was a German chemist, and a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry. Hahn is referred to as the father of nuclear chemistry. Hahn and Lise Meitner discovered radioactive isotopes of radium, thorium, protactinium and uranium. He also discovered the phenomena of radioactive recoil and nuclear isomerism, and pioneered rubidium–strontium dating. In 1938, Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission, for which Hahn received the 1944 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Nuclear fission was the basis for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

Dmitri Mendeleev
# 9
Dmitri Mendeleev

1834 - 1907 (73 years)

#602 person's overall influence

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834–1907) was a Russian chemist, who is often considered the principal discoverer of the Periodic Table of the Elements—perhaps the single most-important, unifying idea in the field of chemistry, as well as one of the most recognizable icons in all of science.

Joseph Priestley
# 10
Joseph Priestley

1733 - 1804 (71 years)

#293 person's overall influence

Joseph Priestley was an English chemist, natural philosopher, separatist theologian, grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He has historically been credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have strong claims to the discovery, Scheele having discovered it in 1772, two years before Priestley.

Humphry Davy
# 11
Humphry Davy

1778 - 1829 (51 years)

#663 person's overall influence

Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet was a Cornish chemist and inventor, who is best remembered today for isolating, by using electricity, a series of elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. Davy also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry.

Michael Faraday
# 12
Michael Faraday

1791 - 1867 (76 years)

#100 person's overall influence

Michael Faraday was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Friedrich Wöhler
# 13
Friedrich Wöhler

1800 - 1882 (82 years)

#671 person's overall influence

Friedrich Wöhler FRS HFRSE was a German chemist, known for his work in inorganic chemistry, being the first to isolate the chemical elements beryllium and yttrium in pure metallic form. He was the first to prepare several inorganic compounds including silane and silicon nitride.

John Dalton
# 14
John Dalton

1766 - 1844 (78 years)

#481 person's overall influence

John Dalton was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist. He is best known for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry, and for his research into colour blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honour.

Lise Meitner
# 15
Lise Meitner

1878 - 1968 (90 years)

#415 person's overall influence

Lise Meitner ForMemRS ; ; 7 November 1878 – 27 October 1968

Glenn Seaborg
# 16
Glenn Seaborg

1912 - 1999 (87 years)

#966 person's overall influence

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American chemist whose involvement in the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements earned him a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His work in this area also led to his development of the actinide concept and the arrangement of the actinide series in the periodic table of the elements.

Fritz Haber
# 17
Fritz Haber

1868 - 1934 (66 years)

#1159 person's overall influence

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber–Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. This invention is of importance for the large-scale synthesis of fertilizers and explosives. The food production for half the world's current population involves this method for producing nitrogen fertilizers. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid.

Gilbert N. Lewis
# 18
Gilbert N. Lewis

1875 - 1946 (71 years)

#970 person's overall influence

Gilbert Newton Lewis was an American physical chemist and a former Dean of the College of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley. Lewis was best known for his discovery of the covalent bond and his concept of electron pairs; his Lewis dot structures and other contributions to valence bond theory have shaped modern theories of chemical bonding. Lewis successfully contributed to chemical thermodynamics, photochemistry, and isotope separation, and is also known for his concept of acids and bases. Lewis also researched on relativity and quantum physics, and in 1926 he coined the term "p...

Robert Bunsen
# 19
Robert Bunsen

1811 - 1899 (88 years)

#1600 person's overall influence

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen was a German chemist. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and discovered caesium and rubidium with the physicist Gustav Kirchhoff. The Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for spectroscopy is named after Bunsen and Kirchhoff.

William Ramsay
# 20
William Ramsay

1852 - 1916 (64 years)

#1055 person's overall influence

Sir William Ramsay was a Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air" along with his collaborator, John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics that same year for their discovery of argon. After the two men identified argon, Ramsay investigated other atmospheric gases. His work in isolating argon, helium, neon, krypton and xenon led to the development of a new section of the periodic table.

Svante August Arrhenius
# 21
Svante August Arrhenius

1859 - 1927 (68 years)

#1773 person's overall influence

Svante August Arrhenius was a Swedish scientist. Originally a physicist, but often referred to as a chemist, Arrhenius was one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903, becoming the first Swedish Nobel laureate. In 1905, he became director of the Nobel Institute, where he remained until his death.

Josiah Willard Gibbs
# 22
Josiah Willard Gibbs

1839 - 1903 (64 years)

#413 person's overall influence

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist who made significant theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was instrumental in transforming physical chemistry into a rigorous inductive science. Together with James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, he created statistical mechanics , explaining the laws of thermodynamics as consequences of the statistical properties of ensembles of the possible states of a physical system composed of many particles. Gibbs also worked on the application of Maxwell's equations to problems

Henry Cavendish
# 23
Henry Cavendish

1731 - 1810 (79 years)

#818 person's overall influence

Henry Cavendish FRS was an English natural philosopher, scientist, and an important experimental and theoretical chemist and physicist. He is noted for his discovery of hydrogen, which he termed "inflammable air". He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper, On Factitious Airs. Antoine Lavoisier later reproduced Cavendish's experiment and gave the element its name.

Wilhelm Ostwald
# 24
Wilhelm Ostwald

1853 - 1932 (79 years)

#1407 person's overall influence

Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German chemist and philosopher. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1909 for his scientific contributions to the fields of catalysis, chemical equilibria and reaction velocities. Ostwald, Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, Walther Nernst, and Svante Arrhenius are credited with being the founders of the field of physical chemistry.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele
# 25
Carl Wilhelm Scheele

1742 - 1786 (44 years)

#1523 person's overall influence

Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a German and Swedish Pomeranian pharmaceutical chemist. Isaac Asimov called him "hard-luck Scheele" because he made a number of chemical discoveries before others who are generally given the credit.

Jöns Jacob Berzelius
# 26
Jöns Jacob Berzelius

1779 - 1848 (69 years)

#2250 person's overall influence

Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary. He is known in Sweden as the "Father of Swedish Chemistry". Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August in honour of him.

Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
# 27
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff

1852 - 1911 (59 years)

#2151 person's overall influence

Jacobus Henricus "Henry" van 't Hoff Jr. was a Dutch physical chemist. A highly influential theoretical chemist of his time, Van 't Hoff was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His pioneering work helped found the modern theory of chemical affinity, chemical equilibrium, chemical kinetics, and chemical thermodynamics. In his 1874 pamphlet Van 't Hoff formulated the theory of the tetrahedral carbon atom and laid the foundations of stereochemistry. In 1875, he predicted the correct structures of allenes and cumulenes as well as their axial chirality. He is also widely considered o...

August Wilhelm von Hofmann
# 28
August Wilhelm von Hofmann

1818 - 1892 (74 years)

#3314 person's overall influence

August Wilhelm von Hofmann was a German chemist who made considerable contributions to organic chemistry. His research on aniline helped lay the basis of the aniline-dye industry, and his research on coal tar laid the groundwork for his student Charles Mansfield's practical methods for extracting benzene and toluene and converting them into nitro compounds and amines. Hofmann's discoveries include formaldehyde, hydrazobenzene, the isonitriles, and allyl alcohol. He prepared three ethylamines and tetraethylammonium compounds and established their structural relationship to ammonia.

Frederick Soddy
# 29
Frederick Soddy

1877 - 1956 (79 years)

#1057 person's overall influence

Frederick Soddy FRS was an English radiochemist who explained, with Ernest Rutherford, that radioactivity is due to the transmutation of elements, now known to involve nuclear reactions. He also proved the existence of isotopes of certain radioactive elements.

Joseph Black
# 30
Joseph Black

1728 - 1799 (71 years)

#676 person's overall influence

Joseph Black was a Scottish physicist and chemist, known for his discoveries of magnesium, latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. He was Professor of Anatomy and Chemistry at the University of Glasgow for 10 years from 1756, and then Professor of Medicine and Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh from 1766, teaching and lecturing there for more than 30 years.

Irving Langmuir
# 31
Irving Langmuir

1881 - 1957 (76 years)

#857 person's overall influence

Irving Langmuir was an American chemist, physicist, and engineer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1932 for his work in surface chemistry.

August Kekulé
# 32
August Kekulé

1829 - 1896 (67 years)

#2467 person's overall influence

Friedrich August Kekulé, later Friedrich August Kekule von Stradonitz , was a German organic chemist. From the 1850s until his death, Kekulé was one of the most prominent chemists in Europe, especially in theoretical chemistry. He was the principal founder of the theory of chemical structure and in particular the Kekulé structure of benzene.

Paracelsus
# 33
Paracelsus

1493 - 1541 (48 years)

#536 person's overall influence

Paracelsus , born Theophrastus von Hohenheim , was a Swiss physician, alchemist, lay theologian, and philosopher of the German Renaissance.

Louis Pasteur
# 34
Louis Pasteur

1822 - 1895 (73 years)

#141 person's overall influence

Louis Pasteur was a French biologist, microbiologist, and chemist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of diseases, and his discoveries have saved many lives ever since. He reduced mortality from puerperal fever and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.

Adolf von Baeyer
# 35
Adolf von Baeyer

1835 - 1917 (82 years)

#2598 person's overall influence

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who synthesised indigo and developed a nomenclature for cyclic compounds . He was ennobled in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1885 and was the 1905 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Ludwig Boltzmann
# 36
Ludwig Boltzmann

1844 - 1906 (62 years)

#555 person's overall influence

Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann was an Austrian physicist and philosopher. His greatest achievements were the development of statistical mechanics, and the statistical explanation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He provided the current definition of entropy, interpreted as a measure of statistical disorder of a system. Max Planck named the constant, , the Boltzmann constant.

Rosalind Franklin
# 37
Rosalind Franklin

1920 - 1958 (38 years)

#114 person's overall influence

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA , RNA , viruses, coal, and graphite. Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognised posthumously.

Alessandro Volta
# 38
Alessandro Volta

1745 - 1827 (82 years)

#307 person's overall influence

Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta was an Italian physicist, chemist, and pioneer of electricity and power who is credited as the inventor of the electric battery and the discoverer of methane. He invented the Voltaic pile in 1799, and reported the results of his experiments in 1800 in a two-part letter to the President of the Royal Society. With this invention Volta proved that electricity could be generated chemically and debunked the prevalent theory that electricity was generated solely by living beings. Volta's invention sparked a great amount of scientific excitement and led ot...

Robert Burns Woodward
# 39
Robert Burns Woodward

1917 - 1979 (62 years)

#3752 person's overall influence

Robert Burns Woodward FRS HFRSE was an American organic chemist. He is considered by many to be the most preeminent synthetic organic chemist of the twentieth century, having made many key contributions to the subject, especially in the synthesis of complex natural products and the determination of their molecular structure. He also worked closely with Roald Hoffmann on theoretical studies of chemical reactions. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1965.

Pierre Curie
# 40
Pierre Curie

1859 - 1906 (47 years)

#1195 person's overall influence

Pierre Curie was a French physicist, a pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity, and radioactivity. In 1903, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics with his wife, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, and Henri Becquerel, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel".

Carl Bosch
# 41
Carl Bosch

1874 - 1940 (66 years)

#3093 person's overall influence

Carl Bosch was a German chemist and engineer and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. He was a pioneer in the field of high-pressure industrial chemistry and founder of IG Farben, at one point the world's largest chemical company.

Robert S. Mulliken
# 42
Robert S. Mulliken

1896 - 1986 (90 years)

#3164 person's overall influence

Robert Sanderson Mulliken was an American physicist and chemist, primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, i.e. the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. Mulliken received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1966 and the Priestley Medal in 1983.

Walther Hermann Nernst
# 43
Walther Hermann Nernst

1864 - 1941 (77 years)

#1328 person's overall influence

Walther Hermann Nernst ForMemRS was a German chemist known for his work in thermodynamics, physical chemistry, electrochemistry, and solid state physics. His formulation of the Nernst heat theorem helped pave the way for the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also known for developing the Nernst equation in 1887.

Peter Debye
# 44
Peter Debye

1884 - 1966 (82 years)

#1013 person's overall influence

Peter Joseph William Debye was a Dutch-American physicist and physical chemist, and Nobel laureate in Chemistry.

John Pople
# 45
John Pople

1925 - 2004 (79 years)

#4225 person's overall influence

Sir John Anthony Pople was a British theoretical chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Walter Kohn in 1998 for his development of computational methods in quantum chemistry.

Harold Urey
# 46
Harold Urey

1893 - 1981 (88 years)

#1231 person's overall influence

Harold Clayton Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for the discovery of deuterium. He played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb, as well as contributing to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter.

Gerhard Herzberg
# 47
Gerhard Herzberg

1904 - 1999 (95 years)

#737 person's overall influence

Gerhard Heinrich Friedrich Otto Julius Herzberg, was a German-Canadian pioneering physicist and physical chemist, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1971, "for his contributions to the knowledge of electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals". Herzberg's main work concerned atomic and molecular spectroscopy. He is well known for using these techniques that determine the structures of diatomic and polyatomic molecules, including free radicals which are difficult to investigate in any other way, and for the chemical analysis of astronomical objects. Herzbe...

Henri Becquerel
# 48
Henri Becquerel

1852 - 1908 (56 years)

#1383 person's overall influence

Antoine Henri Becquerel was a French engineer, physicist, Nobel laureate, and the first person to discover evidence of radioactivity. For work in this field he, along with Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie, received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. The SI unit for radioactivity, the becquerel , is named after him.

Fritz London
# 49
Fritz London

1900 - 1954 (54 years)

#2126 person's overall influence

Fritz Wolfgang London was a German physicist and professor at Duke University. His fundamental contributions to the theories of chemical bonding and of intermolecular forces are today considered classic and are discussed in standard textbooks of physical chemistry. With his brother Heinz London, he made a significant contribution to understanding electromagnetic properties of superconductors with the London equations and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on five separate occasions.

Edwin Mattison McMillan
# 50
Edwin Mattison McMillan

1907 - 1991 (84 years)

#1909 person's overall influence

Edwin Mattison McMillan was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951.