Famous Scientists from Germany

List of notable or famous scientists from Germany, with bios and photos, including the top scientists born in Germany and even some popular scientists who immigrated to Germany. If you're trying to find out the names of famous German scientists then this list is the perfect resource for you. These scientists are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known scientist from Germany is included when available.

This list below has a variety of people, like Albert Einstein and Rudolf Peierls, in it.

This historic scientists from Germany list can help answer the questions "Who are some German scientists of note?" and "Who are the most famous scientists from Germany?" These prominent scientists of Germany may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected German scientists.

Use this list of renowned German scientists to discover some new scientists that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page. 
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  • Albert Einstein
    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
    • Birthplace: Ulm, Germany
    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."
    • Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
    Angela Dorothea Merkel (, German: [aŋˈɡeːla ˈmɛɐ̯kl̩]; née Kasner; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician serving as Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 2000 to 2018. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and, following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, by many commentators as the new leader of the Free World.Merkel was born in Hamburg in then-West Germany and moved to East Germany as an infant when her father, a Lutheran clergyman, received a pastorate in Perleberg. She obtained a doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986 and worked as a research scientist until 1989. Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, and briefly served as a deputy spokesperson for the first democratically elected East German Government headed by Lothar de Maizière in 1990. Following German reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and has been reelected ever since. As the protégée of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was appointed as the Federal Minister for Women and Youth in Kohl's government in 1991, and became the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After her party lost the federal election in 1998, Merkel was elected Secretary-General of the CDU before becoming the party's first female leader two years later in the aftermath of a donations scandal that toppled Wolfgang Schäuble. Following the 2005 federal election, Merkel was appointed Germany's first female chancellor at the head of a grand coalition consisting of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In the 2009 federal election the CDU obtained the largest share of the vote, and Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). At the 2013 federal election, Merkel's CDU won a landslide victory with 41.5% of the vote and formed a second grand coalition with the SPD, after the FDP lost all of its representation in the Bundestag. After the 2017 federal election the CDU was again the largest party, and she was reelected to her fourth term on 14 March 2018.In 2007, Merkel was President of the European Council and played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. One of Merkel's consistent priorities has been to strengthen transatlantic economic relations. Merkel played a crucial role in managing the financial crisis at the European and international level, and she has been referred to as "the decider". In domestic policy, health care reform, problems concerning future energy development and more recently her government's approach to the ongoing migrant crisis have been major issues during her Chancellorship. In 2009 she succeeded George W. Bush as the senior G7 leader and in 2014 she became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union. In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would not seek reelection as leader of the CDU at the party convention in December 2018 and as Chancellor in 2021.
  • Robert Oppenheimer
    Dec. at 62 (1904-1967)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York
    Julius Robert Oppenheimer (; April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967) was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Oppenheimer was the wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and is among those who are credited with being the "father of the atomic bomb" for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons. The first atomic bomb was successfully detonated on July 16, 1945, in the Trinity test in New Mexico. Oppenheimer later remarked that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." In August 1945, the weapons were used in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war ended, Oppenheimer became chairman of the influential General Advisory Committee of the newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission. He used that position to lobby for international control of nuclear power to avert nuclear proliferation and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. After provoking the ire of many politicians with his outspoken opinions during the Second Red Scare, he suffered the revocation of his security clearance in a much-publicized hearing in 1954, and was effectively stripped of his direct political influence; he continued to lecture, write and work in physics. Nine years later, President John F. Kennedy awarded (and Lyndon B. Johnson presented) him with the Enrico Fermi Award as a gesture of political rehabilitation. Oppenheimer's achievements in physics included the Born–Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wave functions, work on the theory of electrons and positrons, the Oppenheimer–Phillips process in nuclear fusion, and the first prediction of quantum tunneling. With his students he also made important contributions to the modern theory of neutron stars and black holes, as well as to quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and the interactions of cosmic rays. As a teacher and promoter of science, he is remembered as a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics that gained world prominence in the 1930s. After World War II, he became director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
    Dec. at 70 (1646-1716)
    • Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
    Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz (sometimes spelled Leibnitz) (; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm fɔn ˈlaɪbnɪts] or [ˈlaɪpnɪts]; French: Godefroi Guillaume Leibnitz; 1 July 1646 [O.S. 21 June] – 14 November 1716) was a prominent German polymath and one of the most important logicians, mathematicians and natural philosophers of the Enlightenment. As a representative of the seventeenth-century tradition of rationalism, Leibniz's most notable accomplishment was conceiving the ideas of differential and integral calculus, independently of Isaac Newton's contemporaneous developments. Mathematical works have consistently favored Leibniz's notation as the conventional expression of calculus. It was only in the 20th century that Leibniz's law of continuity and transcendental law of homogeneity found mathematical implementation (by means of non-standard analysis). He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is the foundation of all digital computers. In philosophy, Leibniz is most noted for his optimism, i.e. his conclusion that our universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that God could have created, an idea that was often lampooned by others such as Voltaire. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th-century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also assimilates elements of the scholastic tradition, notably that conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence. Leibniz made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in philosophy, probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. He wrote works on philosophy, politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology. Leibniz also contributed to the field of library science. While serving as overseer of the Wolfenbüttel library in Germany, he devised a cataloging system that would serve as a guide for many of Europe's largest libraries. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts. He wrote in several languages, but primarily in Latin, French, and German. There is no complete gathering of the writings of Leibniz translated into English.
  • Max Planck
    Dec. at 89 (1858-1947)
    • Birthplace: Kiel, Germany
    Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS (German: [ˈplaŋk]; English: ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame as a physicist rests primarily on his role as the originator of quantum theory, which revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes. In 1948, the German scientific institution the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (of which Planck was twice president) was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPS). The MPS now includes 83 institutions representing a wide range of scientific directions.
  • Rudolf Peierls
    Dec. at 88 (1907-1995)
    • Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
    Sir Rudolf Ernst Peierls, (; German: [ˈpaɪɐls]; 5 June 1907 – 19 September 1995) was a Jewish German-born British physicist who played a major role in the Manhattan Project and Tube Alloys, Britain's nuclear programme. His obituary in Physics Today described him as "a major player in the drama of the eruption of nuclear physics into world affairs".Peierls studied physics at the University of Berlin, at the University of Munich under Arnold Sommerfeld, the University of Leipzig under Werner Heisenberg, and ETH Zurich under Wolfgang Pauli. After receiving his DPhil from Leipzig in 1929, he became an assistant to Pauli in Zurich. In 1932, he was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship, which he used to study in Rome under Enrico Fermi, and then at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge under Ralph H. Fowler. Due to Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany, he elected to not return home in 1933, but to remain in Britain, where he worked with Hans Bethe at the University of Manchester, then at the Mond Laboratory at Cambridge. In 1937, Mark Oliphant, the newly-appointed Australian professor of physics at the University of Birmingham recruited him for a new chair there in applied mathematics. In March 1940, Peierls co-authored the Frisch–Peierls memorandum with Otto Robert Frisch. This short paper was the first to set out that one could construct an atomic bomb from a small amount of fissile uranium-235. Until then it had been assumed that such a bomb would require many tons of uranium, and consequently was impractical to build and use. The paper was pivotal in igniting the interest of first the British and later the American authorities in nuclear weapons. He was also responsible for the recruitment of his compatriot Klaus Fuchs to work on Tube Alloys, as the British nuclear weapons project was called, which resulted in Peierls falling under suspicion when Fuchs was exposed as a spy for the Soviet Union in 1950. After the war, Peierls returned to the University of Birmingham, where he worked until 1963, and then was the Wykeham Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford until he retired in 1974. At Birmingham he worked on nuclear forces, scattering, quantum field theories, collective motion in nuclei, transport theory and statistical mechanics, and was a consultant to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. He received many awards, including a knighthood in 1968, and wrote several books including Quantum Theory of Solids, The Laws of Nature (1955), Surprises in Theoretical Physics (1979), More Surprises in Theoretical Physics (1991) and an autobiography, Bird of Passage (1985). Concerned with the nuclear weapons he had helped to unleash, he worked on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was President of the Atomic Scientists' Association in the UK, and was involved in the Pugwash movement.