Famous People who Majored in Physics

List of famous people who majored in physics, including photos when available. This list of famous physics majors is ordered loosely by relevance, meaning the most well-known people are at the top. This list includes popular actors, musicians, athletes and more that majored or minored in physics. You can find various bits of information below, such as what year the person was born and what their profession is. If you're looking for a particular celebrity who majored in physics you can use the "search" bar to find a specific name.

This list contains people like Jimmy Carter and Albert Einstein.

This list answers the questions, "Which celebrities were physics majors?" and "Which famous people studied physics?"

  • Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = m c 2 {\displaystyle E=mc^{2}} , which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory. Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led him to develop his special theory of relativity during his time at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern (1902–1909). However, he realized that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and he published a paper on general relativity in 1916 with his theory of gravitation. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, he applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe.Except for one year in Prague, Einstein lived in Switzerland between 1895 and 1914, during which time he renounced his German citizenship in 1896, then received his academic diploma from the Swiss federal polytechnic school (later the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH) in Zürich in 1900. After being stateless for more than five years, he acquired Swiss citizenship in 1901, which he kept for the rest of his life. In 1905, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Zurich. The same year, he published four groundbreaking papers during his renowned annus mirabilis (miracle year) which brought him to the notice of the academic world at the age of 26. Einstein taught theoretical physics at Zurich between 1912 and 1914, before he left for Berlin, where he was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. In 1933, while Einstein was visiting the United States, Adolf Hitler came to power. Because of his Jewish background, Einstein did not return to Germany. He settled in the United States and became an American citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending that the US begin similar research. This eventually led to the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported the Allies, but he generally denounced the idea of using nuclear fission as a weapon. He signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto with British philosopher Bertrand Russell, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. He was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955. Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and more than 150 non-scientific works. His intellectual achievements and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with "genius". Eugene Wigner wrote of Einstein in comparison to his contemporaries that "Einstein's understanding was deeper even than Jancsi von Neumann's. His mind was both more penetrating and more original than von Neumann's. And that is a very remarkable statement."
    • Age: Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
    • Birthplace: Ulm, Germany
  • Stephen Hawking
    Photo: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images
    Stephen William Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009. His scientific works included 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 out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.Hawking achieved commercial success with several 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. Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), 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. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. In 1963, Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (MND; also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis "ALS" or Lou Gehrig's disease) that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76, after living with the disease for more than 50 years.
    • Age: Dec. at 76 (1942-2018)
    • Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
  • Jimmy Carter
    Photo: Pinterest
    James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th Governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. After his presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector; in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center. Raised in Plains, Georgia, Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and joined the United States Navy, where he served on submarines. After the death of his father in 1953, Carter left his naval career and returned home to Georgia to take up the reins of his family's peanut-growing business. Carter inherited comparatively little due to his father's forgiveness of debts and the division of the estate among the children. Nevertheless, his ambition to expand and grow the Carters' peanut business was fulfilled. During this period, Carter was motivated to oppose the political climate of racial segregation and support the growing civil rights movement. He became an activist within the Democratic Party. From 1963 to 1967, Carter served in the Georgia State Senate, and in 1970, he was elected as Governor of Georgia, defeating former Governor Carl Sanders in the Democratic primary on an anti-segregation platform advocating affirmative action for ethnic minorities. Carter remained as governor until 1975. Despite being a dark-horse candidate who was little known outside of Georgia at the start of the campaign, Carter won the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. In the general election, Carter ran as an outsider and narrowly defeated incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford. An evangelical Christian, Carter is credited with significantly moving the faith closer to the American mainstream; him advertising his devout Christian faith as a qualification on the campaign trail was unprecedented at the time and is seen as a significant event in the rise of the Christian right in America, even though they and Carter were political opponents.On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders. During Carter's term as president, two new cabinet-level departments, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education, were established. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. On the economic front, he confronted persistent stagflation, a combination of high inflation, high unemployment and slow growth. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In response to the invasion, Carter escalated the Cold War when he ended détente, imposed a grain embargo against the Soviets, enunciated the Carter Doctrine, and led an 1980 Summer Olympics boycott in Moscow. In 1980, Carter faced a challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy in the primaries, but he won re-nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Carter lost the general election to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan in an electoral landslide. Polls of historians and political scientists usually rank Carter as an average president; he often receives more positive evaluations for his post-presidential work. In 2012, Carter surpassed Herbert Hoover as the longest-retired president in U.S. history, in 2017 became the first president to live to the 40th anniversary of his inauguration and in 2019 became the longest-lived president; He is currently the oldest and earliest-serving of all living U.S. presidents. In 1982, he established the Carter Center to promote and expand human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, monitor elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is considered a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity charity. He has written over 30 books ranging from political memoirs to poetry while continuing to actively comment on ongoing American and global affairs, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    • Age: 98
    • Birthplace: Plains, Georgia, United States of America
  • Sally Ride
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American astronaut and physicist. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride was the third woman in space overall, after USSR cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982). Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32. After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. Ride worked for two years at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, then at the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching nonlinear optics and Thomson scattering. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle disasters, the only person to participate in both. Ride died of pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.
    • Age: Dec. at 61 (1951-2012)
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, USA, California
  • Ellen Ochoa
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Ellen O. Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) is an American engineer, former astronaut and former Director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became director of the center upon the retirement of the previous director, Michael Coats, on December 31, 2012. In 1993 Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
    • Age: 65
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
  • Elon Reeve Musk (; born June 28, 1971) is a technology entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. He holds South African, Canadian, and U.S. citizenship and is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; co-founder of Neuralink; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder and co-chairman of OpenAI; and co-founder of PayPal. In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People. He has a net worth of $19.4 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 40th-richest person in the world.Born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk moved to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen's University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received an economics degree from the Wharton School and a degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences. He began a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University in 1995 but dropped out after two days to pursue an entrepreneurial career. He subsequently co-founded Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $340 million in 1999. Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000 and later that year became PayPal, which was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla, Inc., an electric vehicle and solar panel manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, and became its CEO and product architect. In 2006, he inspired the creation of SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla) and operates as its chairman. In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel-construction company. In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet electric aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet. Musk has stated that the goals of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars.
    • Age: 52
    • Birthplace: South Africa, Pretoria