Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) was an astronomer from Poland. He suggested that the planets moved around the sun. People had always thought that the planets moved around the Earth.
Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) from Italy, supported Copernicus’ idea that the Earth goes round the sun. He got into big trouble for thinking this. He was the first real scientist, because, unlike Aristotle, Galileo used experiments and observations to find things out. He also made a much better telescope than had been before, and used it to make important discoveries about planets and space. He also made an important discovery about Gravity. (see GRAVITY on this website, where you can do Galileo’s experiment online!)
Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) from England, discovered that ordinary light from the sun was made up of the seven colours of the rainbow. And so raindrops, bubbles, (and CDs – but these were not around in Newton ’s time!) break up light into the seven colours. He also studied ‘Gravity’, after seeing an apple fall from a tree. He also studied other kinds of movement, and some very famous ‘Laws of Motion’ were named after him.
Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) from England, worked out how to make electricity by spinning a coil of wire between the North and South poles of a magnet. This is still how lots of electricity is made today in Ireland and elsewhere.
Marie Curie (1867 - 1934), a scientist from Poland , discovered radium which has been very important in treating some illnesses.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) made some famous but complicated discoveries about time and light.
Three Japanese scientists Makoto Kobayashi, Toshihide Maskawa and Yoichiro Nambu, won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physics. They worked on the really really tiny particles that make up the atom. (This is the kind of work that is going on at present under the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland ).