A career in academics might not earn you a lot of accolades or fame but it does guarantee one thing: respect. Most scholars attract respect, awe and admiration of the masses and have a commanding presence wherever they go. Some of them make discoveries and reveal some unknown secrets that change our perception of the world and even the universe that we live in. Let’s look at a few pioneers from the world of academics who are an inspiration to people like you and me.
1. Stephen Hawking:
This English theoretical physicist is also known as the ‘Master of the Universe’. He is considered one of the geniuses of our times. Prof Hawking’s primary fields of study are quantum gravity and general relativity. Along with Roger Penrose, he postulated that black holes emit radiation. In a special feature by Discovery Channel titled ‘Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking’, he mentioned that he believed in the existence of aliens and also gave us an analysis of what they might look like. He is the author of the well known book A Brief History of Time.
2. Amartya Sen:
Amartya Sen is an Indian economist and philosopher. Also called ‘the Mother Teresa of Economics’, Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his achievements in welfare economics. He did his most notable work on famine, human development theory, gender equality and political liberalism.
3. Karl Marx:
Marx was a German philosopher, sociologist and economist. His most notable books are Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto. His work in economics laid the basis for all later work and aided the understanding of distribution of labour and capital.
Aryabhatta is considered one of the most notable figures in the fields of mathematics and astronomy. He developed the concept of zero and postulated the approximation of π (pi) in the Gupta Era (sometime around 500 AD). His other notable work in mathematics revolved around trigonometry and algebra, while in astronomy his research was mainly on the solar system, eclipses, sidereal periods, etc. The first Indian satellite was named after him in his honour.
5. Marie Curie:
Madam Curie was the first female Nobel laureate who received the Nobel Prize for her work on radioactivity. She was a physicist as well as a chemist, and won the Nobel Prize twice: once in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, for her achievements in Physics, and then again in 1911 for outstanding discoveries in Chemistry! Her most notable discoveries were the elements polonium and radium.
6. C.V Raman:
Sir Chandrasekhar Venkat Raman was an Indian physicist who received the Nobel Prize in the year 1930. He made outstanding discoveries in the field of light scattering, and the phenomenon that earned him the Nobel is also named after him (Raman Effect).
7. Isaac Newton:
This man needs no introduction. We are all familiar with his third law which states that: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” He was a physicist, mathematician as well as an astronomer. Considered one of the most influential scientists of all time, his work on gravity, optics, calculus, force and motion laid the foundation for multiple groundbreaking discoveries. He was honoured with a Knighthood in 1705.
8. Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar:
Not only was he a scholar and an important figure in the Bengal Renaissance, Vidyasagar was also a social activist and reformer who played an important role in the passing of the Widow Remarriage Act. Born as Iswar Chandra Bandyopadhyay, he earned the nickname Vidyasagar (“ocean of knowledge”) due to his huge contribution to Bengali literature and extensive knowledge of Sanskrit.
Xuanzang was a Chinese scholar, translator and traveller who was responsible for all the Indo-Chinese interactions in the days of the Tang Dynasty.
10. Amrita Shergil:
Amrita Shergil was an Indian painter who is also known as “the Indian Frida Kahlo”. She developed a style of her own at a very young age, and went on to become one of the most eminent Indian painters. She was only 28 years old when she passed away in 1941.
11. Friedrich Nietzsche:
Vastly popular among contemporary philosophers, authors, poets and critics, Nietzsche’s key concepts include life affirmation, the death of god, perspectivism and eternal recurrence. This German philosopher and poet was also a composer and philologist. His concept of Nietzschean affirmation has inspired a lot of theories and ideas among notable philosophers in recent years.
12. J.C Bose:
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was an Indian physicist, botanist and biologist. He is known for his work in botany and for providing the hypothesis and proof of the fact that plants have life. He also did some groundbreaking work in the field of wireless communication and was knighted in the year 1917.
13. Albert Einstein:
One of the most notable figures in physics, Alert Einstein is considered a genius whose research and theories are the basis of most of the notable work done by his successors. His work and postulates on space, time and light earned him the Nobel Prize in the year 1921.
14. S. Ramanujan:
Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who did extraordinary work in his field with little or no formal education on the subject. He did most of his research on mathematical analysis, infinite series, number theory, etc. His methods and theories were highly unconventional and his results have led to a lot of further research. A potentially illustrious career was cut short by repeated illness, and he passed away at the age of 32.
15. Homi Jahangir Bhabha:
This Indian nuclear physicist is known as the father of the Indian Nuclear Programme. His most notable works were the cascade process of cosmic radiation and the phenomenon known as Bhabha Scattering. He died in a plane crash in the year 1966.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist who believed that all the knowledge of every individual was based on their perception. His main interests were in biology, zoology, physics and ethics.
17. APJ Abdul Kalam:
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is an Indian scientist who also served as the President of India from 2002 to 2007. The “Missile Man of India” gained his nicknamed due to his unparalleled contribution to India’s ballistic missile projects and launch vehicle technology.