15 Scientists That Were Not Rewarded Fairly For Their Contribution

When it comes down to unjust, unfair, or discrimination, nothing is eluded from it, not even in science. The 19th and 20th centuries saw several spectacular inventions by equally god-gifted minds.

But not every scientist gets the recognition and fame that he or she truly deserves. We’ve listed (in no particular order) some of those scientists who produced stuff that we still admire today, but they never got rewarded or appreciated during their lifetime.

15. Arthur Eichengrun

Arthur Eichengrun was a German-born chemist and an inventor who is famous for formulating anti-gonorrhea medicine known as Protargol before the rise of antibiotics. After pursuing chemistry in college, he received his doctoral degree in 1890. He then joined a pharmaceutical company.

During his time there, he discovered Protargol, which remained in general use until the sulfa drugs. At the age of 41, he quit Bayer to found his own company by the name of Cellon-Werke in the German capital.

In May 1944, Arthur was not only arrested for the second time but also deported to a concentration camp following an issue with his pharmaceutical company.

Contribution: Arthur Eichengrun held more than 45 patents under his name and contributed to society with many valuable inventions. But only a few people know that he claimed to have actually invented the aspirin.

It is universally accepted that Felix Hoffmann, a fellow Bayer scientist at that time, invented it. But, Arthur in later years, tried to prove his point that he was the one behind the invention.

14. Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was a British-born chemist. She spent her entire academic career in physical chemistry, understanding complex carbon structures. In 1941, she joined Cambridge University, where she was awarded a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Here she worked under Ronald Norrish (1967 Nobel Prize winner). Franklin also went to King’s College under a three-year fellowship in 1950.

Contribution: Although her extensive works on coal, graphite, and viruses were widely appreciated, Franklin’s molecular structure of DNA is perhaps her greatest invention that was never accepted during her lifetime.

There is pin-point evidence that Crick and Watson used Franklin’s experimental data of DNA, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.

13. Nikola Tesla

Nikola tesla

This man needs no introduction at all; he was a Serbian American mechanical engineer. In 1875, Tesla joined Graz University of Technology, Austria, where he studied for one year.

Tesla supposedly possessed an eidetic memory or what we know as a photographic memory. He also claimed that he never used to sleep for more than two hours. He received numerous prizes but was never nominated for any international award.

Contribution: In 1887, Tesla developed the first induction motor that ran on alternating current, an electric current system that later gained popularity over direct current, because of high voltage transmission over long distances. In popular culture, Nikola Tesla may be called the greatest geek ever lived.

Read: 12 Ingenious Nikola Tesla Inventions In Various Fields

12. Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing

Alan Mathison Turing, born on 23 June 1912 in Britain, was a pioneer of computer science, mathematics, and cryptanalysis. Turing completed his graduation from the king’s College, Cambridge in mathematics.

At the dawn of his career, he was victimized by cruel homosexual acts in Britain. He was removed from GCHQ in 1946. On 8 June 1954, Turing was found dead in his room.

Contribution: During the Second World War, he played an important role in decrypting intercepted coded messages, which enabled the Allies to defeat Nazis in the Battle of the Atlantic. His invention, Bombe (the electromechanical machine that breaks the Enigma code more efficiently), shortened the war in Europe by nearly two years.

Read: 20 Greatest Computer Programmers Of All Time

11. Chien-Shiung Wu

Chien-Shiung Wu

The Chinese-born, Chien-Shiung Wu, is the perfect example of relative obscurity in the science world. After doing her graduate-level study at the Zhejiang University, she was selected for higher studies at the University of Michigan. She later opted for the University of California, Berkeley.

Contribution: She is known for the Wu experiment, which contradicted the hypothetical law of conservation of parity. She was also nicknamed ‘Chinese Madame Curie’ and Queen of Nuclear Research.

10. Alfred Wegner

Alfred Wegner

Alfred Lothar Wegener was a German geophysicist and meteorologist who also did extensive polar expeditions. He obtained a doctorate in astronomy in 1905. In the following year, he participated in his first of four expeditions in Greenland. He died during the fourth and last expedition in Greenland.

Contribution: In 1922, he propounded his theory of Continental Drift. It was not fully accepted until the 1950s, when many discoveries like paleomagnetism, showed evidence of continental drift in the past history of the Earth. It is Wegener’s Continental Drift theory that modern Plate Tectonic theory is based upon.

9. Thomas Edison

Edison and phonograph

We all probably know who Thomas Alva Edison is and what he did in his life. He did not get proper schooling and learn mostly from classical methods. He was a prolific inventor having more than one thousand patents under his name.

Contribution: His first notable invention was a Phonograph in 1877. He developed a system of electric power generation and distribution to homes and factories. In 1879, Edison developed an electrical bulb to compete with the oil-powered lighting system.

Read: 11 Thomas Edison Inventions That Everyone Should Know

8. Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose

Born on 1 January 1894, in West Bengal, Satyendra Nath Bose was one of the biggest masterminds that India has ever produced. In his illustrious educational career, he went to Presidency College, where he received his MSc. Bose joined the University of Calcutta, where he did extensive studies in the theory of relativity.

Contribution: Satyendra Nath Bose is majorly known for the Bose-Einstein statistics (a principle, which is followed by every boson). A Nobel Prize was given in the field of Bose-Einstein condensate, bosons, but Satyendra Bose never got awarded the one.

7. Fritz Zwicky

Fritz ZwickyImage credit: YouTube

Fritz Zwicky was a Swiss astronomer who spent most of his time at the California Institute of Technology, in the U.S.A where he emigrated in 1925. He made many major contributions to theoretical astronomy.

Contribution: Fritz Zwicky was the first to apply the virial theorem to prove the existence of unseen matter in interstellar, which he called Dunkle Materie (dark matter). He also made significant contributions to Ionic crystals and electrolytes.

6. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

The first radio pulsars were discovered in 1967 when two scientists from Cambridge university accidentally spotted it while looking for sources of radio radiations in the sky. Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell was one of them.

She was born in Northern Ireland and graduated from the University of Glasgow. After her influential time at Cambridge University, she also served as a President in the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002-2004.

Contribution: During her post-graduation, she created the first radio pulsars (highly magnetized, rotating neutron star) along with her colleague Antony Hewish. But, later on, Anthony Hewish and Martin Ryle shared the Nobel Prize for the discovery of radio pulsar excluding Burnell in 1974. This exclusion has remained a point of controversy since then.

Read: 15 Famous Female Engineers Who Revolutionized Technology

5. Henrietta Swan Leavitt

Henrietta Swan Leavitt

Henrietta was an American astronomer. She began her career at the Harvard College Observatory as one of the human “computers” to measure and catalog the brightness of stars in the year 1893.

Contribution: During her work at Harvard College Observatory, she discovered the relation between the luminosity (total amount of energy emitted by a star) and the period of Cepheid variable stars. She used photographic plates in order to examine the brightness of stars. Her discovery enabled scientists and astronomers to calculate interstellar distances on a stellar parallax.

4. Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner

In 1905, Lise Meitner became the second woman to gain a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Vienna. She was also the first woman professor in physics at the University of Berlin. Lise Meitner, who was a Jewish born, was converted to Christianity and baptized in 1908. Meitner’s achievement was greatly overlooked by the Nobel Prize Committee.

Contribution: During the year 1935, she alongside Otto Hahn worked on “transuranium elements”, an experiment that led to the discovery of the nuclear fission of uranium and thorium. She was excluded from the Nobel Prize nomination, which later received by Otto Hahn in 1944.

3. Ida Tacke

Ida Tacke

Ida Tacke was born in Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in 1896. In Germany, she was the first woman to study Chemistry. She also received her doctorate from the University of Berlin.

Noddack was also a physicist, and she was the first to coin the idea of nuclear fission.
After her marriage, she became Ida Noddack following her husband, Walter Noddack. Both together discovered element 75 rhenium. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times.

Read: Inspiring People Who Changed Some Most Common Viewpoints

2. Esther Lederberg

Esther Lederberg

Esther Miriam Zimmer Lederberg or Esther Lederberg was an American microbiologist. She went to Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin for her higher studies. Throughout her life, she faced several problems regarding gender discrimination. Esther died at the age of 83 (in 2006).

Contribution: She was a popular microbiologist specialized in bacterial genetics. Her most prominent discoveries are the Lambda phage virus and the transfer of genes between bacteria by specialized transduction. She also discovered a bacterial fertility factor F plasmid.

1. Nettie Stevens

Nettie Stevens

Read: 10 Greatest Scientist Ever who completely Transformed the World

Nettie Stevens was an American geneticist. She received her B.A. in 1899 and her Master’s in 1900 from Stanford University. Stevens is responsible for the discovery of the chromosomal basis of sex. A person’s sex is determined by pair chromosomes, X and Y.

She was never given a Nobel Prize for her outstanding contribution in the field of Biology. Following her death, Thomas Hunt Morgan, her successor, posted in the Journal Science, that she was more of a technician than a scientist.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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