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Famous Intelligent People

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 31 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Famous Intelligent People Famous

History has been peppered with individuals who have stood out in terms of their achievements and successes – you could say, for their superior intelligence. These people have often been termed “geniuses” – in fact, the official definition of ‘genius’ is someone of great intelligence, who shows an extraordinary natural intellectual capacity, particularly in producing original and creative work.

Not surprisingly, it is difficult to come up with a definitive list of “top intelligent people” – not least because this depends on your definition of intelligence, what you view as signs of intelligence and whether successes in fields outside the stereotyped “brainy” subjects of science and mathematics (eg, literary achievement) could also be viewed as evidence of exceptional mental ability. As such, most people think in terms of known achievements rather than specific IQ scores when they think of famous intelligent people.

Here is a list of famous individuals who may be regarded by most as being members of the ‘intelligent elite’:

Albert Einstein

In popular culture, Einstein’s name is synonymous with “genius” and it’s not hard to understand why. The German-born physicist made many contributions to the field of physics, in particular, his theories of relativity (especially the now-famous energy-mass conversion formula, E = mc2 ) as well as in other areas such as capillary action, quantum theory, the Brownian movement of molecules, relativistic cosmology, the the foundation for the photon theory and the geometrization of physics. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his services to Theoretical Physics.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Considered by many as the most gifted and diversely talented man of all time, Da Vinci was an Italian painter, scientist, engineer, mathematician, inventorm anatomist, architect, sculptor, musician and writer. He is known as an “universal genius” and the archetype of the Renaissance man, matching his infinite curiosity only by his own powers of invention. Although primarily known as a painter, Da Vinci also conceived ideas in engineering far ahead of his time, producing concepts such as solar power, helicopters, calculators and even a basic theory of plate tectonics. He also had advanced knowledge in the fields of anatomy, optics, civil engineering and hydrodynamics.

Marie Curie

One of the most famous female scientists in history, Polish-born, French-citizen Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist who pioneered the field of radioactivity and was the first female professor at the University of Paris. She is also the only twice-honoured Nobel laureate to be named in two different sciences. Curie remains an icon in the scientific world and the unit of radioactivity, the curie (symbol Ci) is named in honour of her and her husband, a few scientist.

Stephen Hawking

Probably the most famous living scientist, Hawking is a British theoretical physicist especially well-known for his contributions to the fields of quantum gravity and cosmology – in particular, his work on black holes. With a scientific career spanning 40 years, Hawking is also a bestselling-author with his most famous book, “A Brief History of Time” spending a record-breaking 237 weeks on the bestseller lists. This, together with his paralysing disability by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a type of motor neuron disease, have made him an academic celebrity around the world.


A classical Greek philosopher, Plato is famous for laying the philosophical foundations of Western culture, together with his student, Aristotle and his teacher, Socrates. Plato is also famous for his philosophical dialogues which demonstrates his brilliance as a thinker and writer, and these dialogues have since been used to teach a variety of subjects, including mathemetics, logic, philosophy and rhetoric.

Sofia Kovalevskaya

Kovalevskaya was the first major Russian female mathematician and a great writer, as well as an advocate of women’s rights in 19th century. In fact, it was her ground-breaking work in mathematics that caused many to revise their opinions regarding women’s intellectual inferiority. She is partly responsible for opening university doors to women and was the first woman who was appointed a full professorship in Europe.

Sir Isaac Newton

Credited with discovering gravity, not to mention the three laws of motion and laying the foundation for classic mechanics and consequently, modern engineering, Newton can be said to be one of great geniuses of all time. He was a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, alchemist, theologian and natural philosopher. His work, in particular in the area of the theory of gravitation and the laws of motion of planets advanced the scientific revolution. He also invented the reflecting telescope and developed the theory of colour from the splitting of white light by a prism into the visible spectrum. Furthermore, he studied the speed of sound, developed the principles of momentum and even contributed to the development of calculus!

William Shakespeare

Perhaps a strange entry among all these scientists, Shakespeare nevertheless deserves the title of genius for being possibly the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s most eminent dramatist. The English poet and playwright produced 38 plays, 154 sonnets and several other poems and his plays have been translated into every major living language and is consistently performed and reinterpreted in a range of cultural and political contexts around the world - more often than those of any other playwright.

Charles Darwin

English naturalist Darwin is most famous for his theory of evolution, which proposed that all species evolved over time from a few common ancestors through the process of natural selection. Darwins work laid the foundations of modern biology and provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life.

Isaac Asimov

One of the most prolific writers of all time, Asimov was a Russian-born American author who was also a professor of biochemistry. He wrote or edited over 500 books and he is considered a master of science fiction, as well as finding success with his books on popular science.

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show top most intelligent pepole of all time and there works
hamd - 20-Sep-12 @ 8:31 PM
What about Andrew wiles, who, without using computers, especially as they would not have helped anyway, solved the last great mathematical problem that had stumped many eminent (mathematicians?) over a few hundred years or so. The problem in question being Fermats last theorem.
Drew - 22-May-11 @ 3:31 PM
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