There are human minds that have changed the very nature we hypothesize and consider things in ways no one else could have done. Sometimes we call these minds geniuses but the actual name we give them matters less than what they have done for the benefit of humanity as a whole. These are the 10 smartest people ever existed in history.
10: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is a name that some people should know but he’s not as popular as he should be. A contemporary of Sir Isaac Newton, Leibniz is known to independently developed differential integral calculus. The two engaged in a raging debate on who should be given credit until their deaths. But Leibniz, unlike Newton, was a true polymath. Whereas Newton spent his spare time engaged in studying biblical prophecy and alchemy. Leibniz was making important contributions to many areas of thought and science.
Some of his philosophical ideas, such as the universe being formed of elementary particles called monads anticipated the modern understanding of things, such as molecules and atoms. Leibniz also made essential contributions to other fields. He could well be thought of as the first computer scientist and information theorist. Which can be summarized in this concept of the Calculus Ratiocinator or universal calculator. Where he anticipates the existence of the modern computer centuries in advance. You might not be well known, if only because he’s German. But Leibniz made lasting and significant contributions to the building blocks of modern science and thought.
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9: Panini Ashtadhyayi
Number 9 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Panini. Very few people outside of linguists’ circles have heard of Panini. Writing in the fourth century BCE in India, he devised many of the concepts concerning grammatical analysis and structure of language 2000 years before anyone else had put anything together of similar thoroughness. Embodied in his Sanskrit grammar, where he formulated a staggering set of rules numbering 3959. He expounds in depth on topics such as, phonology, syntax and morphology to an astounding degree that would only take place more than two millennial later in Europe. He’s even credited with developing the first formal system that to a certain degree is mirrored in modern programming languages.
8: Alan Turing
Alan Turing is rightly called the father of the computer and was a truly brilliant mind. He was, of course, best known for his cryptography skills. Which came into full effect when he successfully and almost single-handedly crack the enigma code of the Axis powers during World War II. Morse-coded radio communications that after having been cracked gave the allied powers a substantial advantage over the Axis powers.
However, Turing’s greatest contribution was that of the concept of binary computation. Which is why he’s called the father of modern computers. Since all modern computers run on the principle of binary computation. Which in simple terms means a system based on zeros and ones. Without this concept, the modern computer might never have been developed. Unfortunately for Turing, the British government convicted him of the alleged crime of homosexuality. He was sentenced to chemical castration as a consequence. Two weeks after his conviction, he committed suicide. Decades later, the queen pardoned him for his crime.
7: John Von Neumann
John Von Neumann is cited by some as the smartest man who’s ever lived. Though that is debatable, this Hungarian-American thinker was a true polymath. He was deeply involved in the Manhattan Project, along with many other famous physicists. Like Turing, he is also considered a founding father of modern computing. His work was so all-encompassing that is hard to summarize it all. In the field of computer science, one of his greatest contributions was the Von Neumann Architecture. Which was the first design structure for the electronic digital computer?
He also founded modern mathematical game theory. Which extending beyond pure mathematics as at a tremendous impact across disciplines ranging from biology to economics to sociology and beyond. Von Neumann is also interestingly credited with devising the equilibrium strategy behind mutually assured destruction. Which he humorously called mad and made important contributions to various weaponry in the nuclear arms race. When fellow Hungarian Eugene Wigner who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1963, was asked why the Hungry of his time had produced so many geniuses? His reply was simple, Neumann was the only genius.
Considered a possibly be the greatest mathematician of all time. Archimedes of Syracuse was a pioneer in mathematics and invention. Nearly 2000 years prior to its development by Newton and Leibniz, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus by using concepts of infinitesimals. He was also one of the first, if not the first applied mathematician using mathematical calculations applied to physical phenomena, such as his inventions.
He is credited with founding both hydro-statics and statics along these lines. Applying these principles to all manner of mechanics used in warfare and defense. Unfortunately, much if not most of Archimedes legacy has been lost to time, as very little of his original work survives today. That which does survive lends credence to his title as the greatest mathematical mind of all time. Leibniz said of him, “he who admires Archimedes and Apollonius will admire less the achievements of the foremost men of later times”.
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5: William Shakespeare
Number 5 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Shakespeare. It is possible that William Shakespeare’s literary genius is unrivaled, not just in the English-speaking world but beyond. A major playwright whose drama depicts virtually every facet of human psychology and a poet of unparalleled skill, Shakespeare remains a mystery to this day. His vocabulary in an understanding of human nature has long made scholars question his authenticity. His legacy is such that his plays still resonate today in the 21st century. Many look up to him as a role model of just how good a writer can be. As Prince Hamlet states, “the play indeed is the thing.”
4: Nikola Tesla
Number 4 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Nikola Tesla Serbian born Nikola Tesla could very well be the most important inventor of the 20th century and possibly of all time. His contributions are almost too numerous to list but a short list of them would be the radio, x-rays, remote control, the laser, robotics and wireless communication. Tesla also was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which made many of his early teachers suspect him of cheating. Perhaps, his greatest talent was combined with his innate genius with the power of vision.
Perhaps, more so than any others on this list, Tesla was a futurist and someone who believes in the transformative power of technology. The idea for example of the electric car can ultimately be traced back to him. Many of our modern convenience technology can be attributed to him as well. Do you know the Tesla cannon from games such as fallout? That too stemmed from him, as he synthesized the idea of the directed energy weapon.
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3: Niccolo Di Bernardo Dei Machiavelli
Number 3 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Niccolo Machiavelli. Niccolo Di Bernardo Dei Machiavelli was an Italian politician and philosopher whose famous book “The Prince” laid down the principles of modern duplicitous statecraft which is to say lying, cheating and keeping a population in fear. He is famously quoted as saying, “it is better to be feared than loved” and his theory of politics was one that stressed the necessity of ruthlessness in order to keep the population line and where the ends always justified the means. Many dictators in the 20th century admired him. Unsurprisingly, Joseph Stalin read and kept an annotated copy of the prince.
2: Francis Bacon
Number 2 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon was an English statesman, orator, philosopher and scientist. He was generally considered to be the father of the scientific method, which is a hallmark of modern scientific conduct. Bacon carefully stressed the importance of inductive reasoning based on the observation of nature, careful testing and measuring and seeing whether or not he observed phenomena fit the data available. In this sense, he’s one of the most impactful figures of all time because this methodology is universal in the sciences to this day. Bacon was so brilliant that sceptics of the authenticity of Shakespeare often posit Francis Bacon as a real author behind the literary works.
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1: Charles Darwin – Smartest People Ever
Number 1 on our list of 10 smartest people ever is Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin rightfully takes the spot of number one as the human mind that revolutionizes human thought. His theory of evolution and the descent of man transformed our understanding of biological life forever. Still, more importantly, transform the very way in which we view ourselves as human animals. Until Darwin, people thought that humans were unique in their place in the animal kingdom and specially chosen by God.
Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection shattered that believe because of necessity, humans had to be included in the group of animals that evolved over time. After his death, the theory of evolution continues to be vindicated in the form of fossils and later on the discovery of DNA and the modern science of genetics. No human mind has had its transformative effect on the world as Charles Darwin has.
These were the 10 smartest people ever existed in history. What do you guys think? Who should have been added in this list? React in the comments down below. Don’t forget to check out our other lists and thanks for staying with us for a while.