2. Albert Einstein
If you would ask people who they believe the smartest historical figure is, many would say Albert Einstein. When trying to explain the intelligence of Einstein, it is difficult to even know where to start. He was primarily a theoretical physicist, a profession that most of us cannot even fathom. He developed a number of theories, including the general theory of relativity, which is one of the pillars of our modern study of physics. Einstein also greatly contributed to the philosophy of science, and he is best known in popular culture for his equation E=MC2, which is the mass-energy equivalence formula. He was given the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.
What is so interesting about Albert Einstein is that though he had an exceptional mind for mathematics and physics, he was of average, and in some cases, below average, in other pursuits. When he sat for his secondary school exams, for example, he did not pass all of the sections. He shined, of course, in the math and physics sections.
After graduation, he struggled for almost two years to find a teaching job, and he eventually landed a job in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. He started writing papers in his free time, and eventually, these papers began to get him noticed. Of all of his works, approximately 300 scientific papers were published over his career, with an additional 150 papers were published with non-scientific topics. In 2014, universities around the world released all of their known Einstein documents, and they totaled more than 30,000 documents.
1. Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is a physicist and cosmologist, and is the Director of Research in the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, as of 2016. He has worked on a number of theorems throughout his career, including trying to understand concepts such as black holes and quantum mechanics. He is a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, holds the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and is a member of the Royal Society of Arts. He taught at Cambridge for 30 years, and is a published author. His book, A Brief History of Time, was a Sunday Times best-seller for 237 weeks.
In his younger days, it was well-known that Stephen Hawking was smart, but he transferred from school to school throughout his childhood. His family was known as eccentric, but all very scholarly. He finally made it to Oxford, where his initial plans were to study medicine, but instead, he found that mathematics came to him more easily. He finally settled on studying physics and chemistry. While at Oxford, it was apparent that Hawking’s intelligence far exceeded that of his classmates, and he was often bored with the curriculum, as it came to him so easily.
Hawking’s theories are not without controversy, however, and many modern physicists believe that some of his theories are incorrect. This is especially the case when it comes to his theories about black holes. He has also been part of public debate with other physicists about a number of concepts. He has won a number of major awards and honors throughout his career, including being a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Whether you agree with the top 10 smartest people on this list or not, you have to admit that each person on this list has smarts that most of us can never even dream of. All of these people are certainly geniuses, but the capacity of what type of genius they are is very different. Stephen Hawking, for instance, is well known for his intelligence in physics, where Nikola Tesla was a genius when dealing with electricity. In some cases, people such as Leonardo da Vinci and Marilyn vos Savant have a get strong general knowledge.
The truth is, there are many people who deserve to be on this list, and in truth, it would be difficult to even narrow it down to the top 100 smartest people of all time. This list simply scratches the surface, but it also fuels the concept of the limit of human intelligence. Have one of these people hit that summit, or is it possible that there are smarter people out there right now, just waiting for their time to shine?