Think of the greatest scientists ever, and you’d probably mention Einstein, Newton and Hawking, among others. Less is known about today’s greatest scientists. Take for example, do you know who invented the web? Or the technology used in smartphone screens, VR glasses and curved-screened TVs?
Check out the 10 greatest scientists alive today.
- Timothy Berners-Lee
Whenever you type “www.” , you should probably thank this British computer scientist, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, and also made the first-ever website in 1991.
His pioneering work began when he proposed to transmit information using the ‘hypertext’ technology, the blueprint for the internet.
- James Watson
The Nobel Prize winner has secured his name among the greatest scientists ever, for discovering the double helix structure of DNA in 1953.
The hereditary material is linked to the transmission of genetic information, and its discovery is helping scientists identify specific genes that trigger diseases, how drugs could treat them.
Check out this TED talk with James Watson about how he and his research partner Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA.
- Shinya Yamanaka
The Japanese stem-cell researcher received the Nobel prize in 2012 for his co-discovery that existing cells can be engineering into stem cells.
The groundbreaking discovery meant that it was possible to reverse the ageing process through something called ‘Direct Reprogramming’.
So revolutionary was his discovery that Ian Wilmut, the biologist responsible for cloning Dolly the sheep, began studying how adult cells can be reprogrammed, instead of sticking to his own method of cloning the embryo.
- Tu Youyou
She became the first Chinese woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in 2015 for her work in creating an anti-malaria drug.
The drug, which was developed in 1972, helped save millions of lives in the developing nations in South Asia, Africa and South America.
Interestingly, Tu was only able to extract the drug – a natural herb, through her study of a handbook of traditional Chinese medicine written in year 340.
- Seiji Ogawa
MRI scans have enabled one to see inside a person – much more clearly than a conventional X-ray.
For discovering the scientific method of functional magnetic resonance imaging, Ogawa is often called the father of modern functional brain imaging.
- Ching Wan Tang
Ever wondered why pictures shown on your curved screen TV looks so beautiful? Well, you have to thank the ‘Father of OLED’ who invented the organic light-emitting diode.
For that invention, Ching became the first Chinese recipient of the 2011 Wolf Prize in Chemistry. That’s an award considered second only in prestige to the Nobel Prize.
In 1996, Pioneer used his technology to develop a monochrome OLED display, and in 2003, Kodak released the world’s first product based on that technology – a digital camera.
Then in 2013, LG launched the world’s first mass curved OLED TV, and now, this technology is used in VR glasses.
- Chang Meemann
If you’ve ever came across a species ending with “Meemann”, that’s likely to be one of Chinese vertebrate paleozoology scientist Chang Meemann’s discoveries.
So accomplished is the scientist that many species, such as the extinct sarcopterygian fish Meemannia, and the extinct bird Archaeornithura meemannae, have been named in her honour.
In 2016, Zhang was given the Romer-Simpson Lifetime Achievement Award – the highest prize in vertebrate palaeontology, for advancing the understanding of how aquatic vertebrates adapted to living on land.
- Elizabeth Blackburn
In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn’s ground-breaking research on chromosomes led many to ask if the cure for cancer had arrived.
That’s because together with two other scientists, she found that a unique enzyme – telomerase, found in normal cells, behaves differently when in a cancer cell, and the behaviour is responsible for the multiplication of a cancer cell.
After her findings were made public, new cancer treatments were proposed, significantly one called ‘Telomerase inhibition’ as a way to kill the enzyme, and therefore, kill the cancer.
- Andrew Knoll
The search for early life is always a mystery. But it’s one where Knoll has found some answers.
The paleontologist is famous for discovering microscopic traces of early life, called microfossils, on continents spanning Asia to Africa.
His decisive findings have been pivotal to understanding the history of life on earth in the early period.
For example, he and his colleagues first hypothesised that rapid build-up of carbon dioxide played a key role in a period of mass extinction over 250 million years ago.
- Jane Goodall
She’s had books written about her, and films made on her. After over 55 years of living and interacting with chimpanzees, the British primatologist is now known as the world’s foremost expert on the primates.
Her revolutionary work furthered our knowledge of chimpanzee behavior, and revealed that chimpanzees, like humans, can learn to make and use tools.
Like us, they also made peace, kissing and embracing their partners, and made war – including hunting and killing their own.
In the years after her breakthrough research, Goodall founded the Gombe Stream Research Centre in 1960, which is the now the world’s longest running wildlife research project.