Idiots Guide: 10 Geniuses who Changed the World. Forever.

Since the dawn of modern humanity, each century, each generation, and successive  decade, has produced exceptional human beings whose contribution to the world at large has progressed the collective technology, knowledge and understanding of the human race. These are people who have changed the world around us, and the way we function within it. In short, the people who have changed the world, forever. Enjoy!

#10. Karl Benz / The Automobile

Karl_Benz in 1869

Raise your hand if you love your car, or love cars in general. Now take a moment to admire the man who is credited with it’s invention. Karl Benz is the German engineer who is widely considered as the inventor of the first internal combustion engine automobile. He is also the founder of the status symbol, leading brand, and globally iconic Mercedes-Benz line of luxury cars. Benz was granted his first engine patent in 1879, and in 1886 he was granted a patent for his first automobile. The beginnings of the car were inauspicious with the 1888 version of the ‘Motorwagen‘ having no gears, and couldn’t drive over hills without being pushed! However, we’ve come a long way. The rest as they say, is history.

#9. The Wright Brothers / Aviation 


Orville and Wilbur Wright were two of the finest homegrown inventors in American history. These two inventors, and aviation aficionados are credited with the invention and construction of the first successful airplane. They were among many who had attempted to build flying machines, however they set themselves apart by being the first to create airplane controls that made fixed-wing powered flight a reality. On Oroville’s final test flight on December 17th 1903 at approximately 10:35 am, he flew 120 feet (37 m) in 12 seconds, at a breakneck speed of about 7 miles per hour! Like the automobile, very humble beginnings with exponential growth over time. These men were the vanguards of flight.

#8. Leonardo da Vinci / Inventor / Art / Mathematics / Music / Palentology


It would be impossible to overstate Leonardo da Vinci‘s contributions to mankind. He is often referred to as the father of paleontology, and architecture, however he is certainly one of, if not the greatest painters in human history. Leonardo da Vinci is also credited as the inventor of the parachute, helicopter and the tank. He was at the vanguard of the Renaissance period, and widely regarded as a “Universal Genius” whose depth of knowledge and interests are unparalleled in history. Some even argue that Da Vinci possessed ‘superhuman’ intellectual ability. Now that’s saying something, serious.

#7. Nicolaus Copernicus / Astronomy / Mathematics 

nicolas copernico

Another of the brightest lights from the Renaissance period was Nicolaus Copernicus. He was a mathematician, physician, and the astronomer who introduced a correct model of the universe in which the Sun, and not the Earth was at it’s center. This was radioactive thinking for the time, and he certainly felt the heat for it. The publication of his book ‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres‘ in 1543 became a profound movement in scientific history, and started what became known as ‘the Copernican Revolution‘. In addition, his 1517 contribution to economics ‘quantity theory of money’ and his 1519  ‘Gresham’s Law’ formula. Are both widely heralded as groundbreaking work.

#6. Ludwig van Beethoven / Musical Composer 


Modern music has evolved, and become so dynamic, that it might be easy for the layperson to forget the men who forged the composition of sound that are the bedrock of all music. Ludwig van Beethoven was the very best of these men. He was the most influential composers in the transition between the Classical, Romantic, and Western eras of music. Without question he is the most famous of all classical composers. He is best-known for composing the 9 Symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, the Mass the Missa solemn, and of course the opera, Fidelio.

#5. Sir Isaac Newton / Physics / Mathematics

Isaac Newton

We are all familiar with the apple falling from the tree and hitting Issac Newton in the head, and thus igniting the ‘gravity’ light bulb in his mind. He was an English physicist who is perhaps the most influential scientists of all time. He was arguably responsible for the ‘scientific revolution’ of the 17th and 18th centuries. His 1687 book ‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy‘, is credited as the foundational understanding for popular mechanics as we know them.  His ‘Principia‘ discussed the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which guided scientists view of the physical universe for nearly three centuries afterwards. Influential would be an understatement, as would any argument that tried to deny Newton’s brilliance.

#4. William Shakespeare / Literary Genius

William Shakespere

How brilliant was William Shakespeare? Let’s start with the fact that when he was writing his timeless, and universally admired plays, and poetry, the English Dictionary had not yet been created! It’s alright if it takes you a minute to get a handle on that. Shakespeare is regarded by most human beings as the very best writer, dramatist, and playwright in recorded human history. His overall body of work includes approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and some longer narrative poems. His work has been translated into every major language, his plays are performed more than any other playwright, and it’s not even close. This author’s personal favorite being ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘. What’s yours?

#3. Thomas Alva Edison / Prolific Inventor

thomas edison

You can thank Thomas Edison for inventing the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the practical light bulb, among many other things. ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park’ holds over  1,000 patents in the United States (mostly utility), and many others in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. ‘Prolific Inventor’ would be a more than adequate summation of Edison. His 1879 patent for an electric lamp using carbon filament was the first commercial, and practical incandescent light. Thomas Edison changed the world.

#2. Nikola Tesla / Physicist/ Inventor/Electrical Engineer/ Futurist

Nicolai Tesla

Born during a lightning storm in 1856 in his native Serbia, Nicola Tesla was to become one of the most consequential inventors in human history. Tesla was much more than a  physicist, inventor, electrical engineer, and mechanical engineer. Nicola Tesla was a  ‘Futurist‘. His part in the ‘dueling inventors’ saga with the aforementioned Thomas Edison, is well documented. Many would argue that Tesla was a far superior intellect than Edison, and that’s saying something. His contributions to the modern alternating current, or (AC) electricity supply system are legendary. He became a reclusive man later in life, with many people suggesting that he was working on advanced future technology in which energy would be free for all mankind. We may never know to what extent he succeeded as his private notes and papers disappeared from his hotel room immediately following his death in New York,  January 1943. Nevertheless the world has benefitted from Nicola Tesla in ways that continue to be revealed. Elon Musk’s electric car is a Tesla namesake.

#1.  Albert Einstein / Mathematics and Physics

albert einstein

Albert Einstein was a a German-born theoretical physicist, and perhaps the smartest man to have ever lived. Einstein famously developed, and propagated the ‘General Theory of Relativity‘ or , G_{\mu \nu} + \Lambda g_{\mu \nu}= {8\pi G\over c^4} T_{\mu \nu} , which became one of the two foundations of modern physics, the other being ‘quantum mechanics‘. His ‘Special Theory of Relativity‘ or E = mc² is among the most famous of equations in human history. You can add his ‘Wave–particle duality‘, ‘Theory of critical opalescence‘, ‘Quantized atomic vibrations‘, ‘General relativity and the equivalence principle‘, and ‘Thermodynamic fluctuations and statistical physics‘, to his dizzying array of theoretical physics work over his lifetime. In short Albert Einstein’s contribution to the world’s understanding of time, space, and physics is perhaps the greatest of all human time.












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