Top 10 Smartest People of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Albert Einstein Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of all time. Einstein is best known for developing the theory of relativity, but he also made important contributions to the development... read more

Behind Tesla on the list, but equally intelligent in his own right, Nikola Tesla had inexplicably innovative and radical ideas. Most importantly, his ideas were ones that could be three-dimensionally rendered. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, brought forth ideas that were not experimentally verifiable in all circumstances.

The two were in separate domains. When Einstein did bring a conceptual idea to a 3D implementation with the introduction of the atomic bomb, it created as significant an impact as any of Tesla's inventions, arguably more so. Years from now, both will be regarded very highly, as many of their contributions have yet to be fully realized.

2 Nikola Tesla Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system, X rays, Radio, Remote Control, Laser, and Electric motors. Tesla developed and used... read more

Nikola Tesla is an underrated and forgotten genius. Einstein was amazingly intelligent, but he was assisted by his very intelligent wife and an assistant. Nikola Tesla was a complete lone wolf.

He had great memory, amazing visualization skills, and was years ahead of his time. He invented the modern world as we know it, with an astounding 700 patents. In my opinion, he is the greatest genius ever. He probably could have single-handedly destroyed the world. An amazing man.

3 Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.

Knowledge is humanity's greatest treasure, and this man greatly expanded human knowledge, paving the way for many others, including various sub-disciplines. Other geniuses such as Planck, Einstein, and Bohr have built their theories upon the foundation that Newton laid centuries ago. It is unimaginable to think how much he accomplished in the first quarter-century of his life.

Leonardo da Vinci is a close second. By the way, people who vote for Hitler should have their priorities sorted out. If conquest, manipulation, and the ability to govern large empires should be valued above all else - such as a thirst for knowledge and the desire to share it with others - in measuring intelligence, why not mention Alexander the Great, Nebuchadnezzar, Genghis Khan, Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, or Napoleon?

All of them have "accomplished" much more and shaped human history in a much greater way than 'ol Adolf. Or, are people unable to recall history that predates the 20th century?

4 Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 - May 2, 1519) more commonly Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy,... read more

He was centuries ahead of his time. CENTURIES. Not decades. He was the first to research the mechanics of human anatomy, and the way he presented his knowledge of it wasn't possible for us until we acquired the technology several decades ago.

He correctly theorized geological time while everyone else still believed in the Great Flood. And not only was he a genius in science but also in engineering and art. He is the definition of a genius. Yes, Einstein was amazing, but remember that da Vinci had none of the technology or schooling of modern times. All he had was unquenchable curiosity for EVERYTHING.

5 Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei, was an Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance.

Okay, I'm learning about him, and he did many things. He went against the church that put him under house arrest for the rest of his life. When he was blind in the last year of his life, he made the first pendulum clock.

He did a force experiment.

Don't get me wrong, Galileo was one of the most intelligent humans of all time, but many mistake him for inventing the telescope. Galileo only made improvements to the spyglass/telescope. He was essentially the founder of modern-day science and astronomy, which is why he should be higher on the list.

Without him improving the telescope, we would only be able to see 2x to 5x times further.

6 Stephen Hawking Stephen William Hawking (January 8, 1942 - March 14, 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His most famous research was on the theory of Black Holes.

I do not dispute that Newton and Einstein are undoubtedly the giants of science, and Shakespeare the giant of art. But I have to vote for Hawking, and let me explain why.

Stephen Hawking is admired by many, but not necessarily for the same reasons. Let's start off with what he was originally known for: his research in relativity in the late 1970s. Using the results of Einstein, he employed sophisticated mathematical methods with Penrose to show that singularities are not mathematical artifacts but are, in fact, real and generic. That is, black holes are real, and he concluded this well before the identification of Cygnus X-1.

In 1974, Hawking sent shockwaves throughout the physics world with his discovery that black holes radiate. The result provided mankind's first glimpse of uniting quantum theory with general relativity, which, before this time, seemed irreconcilable. It also set the direction for theoretical physics ever since.

If you read Kip Thorne's account of the golden age of relativity, there is no doubt that Hawking stands as the most prominent physicist from that period of time. In a way, he is also a Cold War icon, symbolizing the West's trump card against the often-perceived superior physics research groups in the USSR, first led by Landau and then by Zeldovich. In fact, Zeldovich was one of the first to suggest black hole radiation, but only in a spinning one by analogy to a spinning metal sphere. This led Hawking to develop his stunning 1974 result (one that held valid regardless of spin), leading Soviet physicists to conclude they were wrong.

Einstein himself did not believe in black holes or quantum theory (although he contributed to the foundations of the latter while talking to Max Planck). Hawking showed that black holes exist and took it a step further with quantum mechanics through radiation.

All of this was before he communicated his science to the public in A Brief History of Time. No other living person... more

7 Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin (January 6, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath who was active as a writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and political philosopher. Among the leading intellectuals of his time, Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States,... read more

Ben Franklin was a genius in many areas, not just one or two. Science, literature, politics, invention, people skills, and leadership are all areas in which he was an authority. He was not a genius for hire.

He had principles and worked to change the things he deemed important. He changed the world.

A genius. He invented the glass armonica, improved the postal system, invented the lightning rod, helped create the U.S., and was also morally wise! In his later life, he campaigned to abolish slavery!

Next to George Washington, he may have been the greatest American of all time!

8 Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin ( 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary biology. His proposition that all species of life have descended from a common ancestor is now widely accepted and considered a fundamental... read more

Charles Darwin was not only a man with the observational skill of a genius, but he also managed to apply his observations to develop logically beautiful and seemingly flawless theories, at least so far. His understanding of humanity is comparable to that of Hitler, Napoleon, Jesus, Buddha, and Shakespeare. Although his achievements have not had an evident impact, he and the philosopher Montaigne were among the first to tackle the subject of sexuality.

His ideas inspired many sexologists, as we now call them, to develop theories that have brought about equality among the sexes and are freeing sexuality today. These ignored facts about Charles Darwin may shed some light on his true greatness.

9 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and... read more

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, the picture of Einstein's personal library must be worth at least 10,000 words because among his books, the name GOETHE was the most representative author (52 books in total). The day that Willard Gibbs becomes synonymous with Johann Goethe will be the day that everyone understands why Goethe is #1 beyond anyone the future has yet to produce.

10 Aristotle Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece.

Only gross ignorance of the achievements of Aristotle would place him anywhere but at the top of the list. In fact, he is so far beyond anyone else that there is literally no comparison, except for Plato, his teacher. Western civilization is based upon Aristotle.

Biology, ethics, physics, animal science, philosophy, rhetoric, drama, politics - including the structures of the USA and of constitutional republics - these and more were started by or had their foundation set by Aristotle.

Aristotle was an acknowledged genius in a variety of fields. He wrote some 200 treatises dealing with philosophy, logic, many categories of science, and human relationships. His general philosophy relating to ethics and natural law formed the basis of much of what is now known as Western Civilization.

His teaching methods are still followed in many respects. He was the third in a line of three of the four most brilliant philosophers ever known - Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (Aquinas being the fourth).

The Contenders
11 Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 - April 30, 1945) was a German politician of Austrian descent who served as the leader of the Nazi Party since 1921, Chancellor of Germany since 1933, and Führer of Nazi Germany since 1934. As dictator of Nazi Germany, he reversed the Treaty of Versailles, initiated World... read more

Though his motivation was evil, he was indeed brilliantly manipulative, and because of this combination of both brilliance and world impact, he deserves to be on this list.

Hitler was an Aries/Taurus, which means he was very passionate about being number one in everything he did. He was rejected as a painter or artist because his works were too vibrant and were Postmodern Impressionism. Had he been born during the hippie era, when people were into that vibrant technique, he would have been looked up to.

But people were just not into that at that time. After he was rejected in school, he put his passion into another possibility and became the most ruthless leader in history. Yes, the way he did things was wrong. Yes, how he killed many innocent people was wrong, but this was not his objective.

Many people don't understand that an Aries' passion goes beyond the approval of others. They have to be number one at all costs. I, myself, am only an Aries. I have such passion in everything I do. However, I do not have Taurus in me, which helped him finish what he started. Many of my passions die out eventually, and I lose interest before completion. He didn't!

12 Carl Friedrich Gauss Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, mechanics, electrostatics, astronomy, matrix theory, and optics.

Greatest mathematician of all time. He had to spend a lot of his valuable time on land measuring and astronomy (boring, repetitive jobs with lots of numerical data analysis). But in his free time, he saw so much further than all other mathematicians that his notes were a valuable source of mathematical discoveries for centuries.

On his 18th birthday, he thought up a geometrical construction for dividing a circle into 17 equal parts (unsolved at the time). Oh, and he invented the telegraph (the basis of all modern communication), but just on the side.

13 William Shakespeare William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

William Shakespeare was a genius. How did an uneducated man write countless plays, poems, books, and sonnets, and make millions? Shakespeare knows the answer to that one.

If you are looking for genius, look at him. He also lived at a time when there was a great risk of being killed if he ever slightly offended the king. He was able to be funny and knew which people to pick on to please the king. That takes genius.

He understood human nature better than anyone else. He could summarize a thought and a whole range of emotions in a single sentence. He has influenced the English language more than anyone else.

We quote Shakespeare every hour of every day and don't even realize it. He's wired into our psyche. A true genius!

14 Thomas Edison Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor.

He improved many inventions: the telephone, microphone, telegraph, projector, phonograph, and photography. Without his work, these things wouldn't be as useful as we know them to be. His developments were vitally important for technology, even without the invention of the electric light bulb.

I strongly believe his achievements demonstrate much optimism and perseverance. You only have to read his quotes to notice that. For instance, he tried more than a thousand times to make a light bulb and never gave up.

15 Jesus Christ Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. He was born to Mary, as the bible says "she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:18). He was both man and God (John 20:28). According to the bible He is God alone (Deuteronomy 6:4)... read more

Whether you believe that he was a deity, a divinely inspired prophet, or merely a rebellious philosopher who challenged the status quo, one thing is undeniable. The influence that Yeshua of Nazareth had on the entire world is immense.

Allegories of his life are recorded all throughout literature, and he inspired a religious revolution among a sect of Jews (Proto-Christians) who influenced religious jurisprudence for nearly 2,000 years. Clearly, he is of grand influence, and that takes clear intelligence.

16 Archimedes of Syracuse Archimedes of Syracuse was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.

As Leo Valdez himself said (I always make sure I have a credible Rick Riordan character as my source), "He was like the Albert Einstein of Ancient Greece." Given that statement coming from a fictional character, I could argue that half the people on this list would be nothing without him and maybe Copernicus. (With the exception of Hitler, sadly. Yes, despite the fact that he was a terrible person with bad motives, he was smart.)

He was probably the first physicist in history and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He pioneered the method of infinitesimals, which eventually led to the invention of calculus around 1800 years later by Leibniz and Newton. He approximated the value of Pi and formulated what is probably the oldest physical principle, Archimedes' Principle.

He invented many tools, like Archimedes' screw. He was centuries ahead of his time.

17 Nicolaus Copernicus Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe.
18 Solomon

Solomon asked God for wisdom above all else, specifically wisdom to lead the people that God put him in charge of as king. He was given wisdom above and beyond any man past, present, or future. Read it in 2 Chronicles 1:8-13. Also, realize that wisdom is not what you might think it is. There is wisdom from the world and wisdom from God. Read James 3:17. Thanks and God bless!

Jesus Christ should be first, then following him would be Solomon, since God gave him the intelligence and wisdom to rule a country fairly. Solomon was the wisest man (remember, man) on Earth. Following him, I believe, would be King David.

19 Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India.

His ways and thoughts are principles that can be applied throughout one's life. He lived simply, wearing modest clothing, but became globally famous and helped India gain independence from the mighty British Empire. He also fought against apartheid in South Africa.

Although he had many detractors and still faces criticism today, he persevered, and his revolution of non-violence is still in use.

Mahatma Gandhi was a kind and peaceful man who fought for India's independence with non-violent demonstrations. Although he was quite brilliant and intelligent, he was not known for any kind of work in science. He was perhaps more involved in literature and thought, which makes him less popular than Albert Einstein.

Had he lived longer, he might have had an even greater impact on the world.

20 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era, born in Salzburg.

He was a great musical composer. If you think about it, by the time he was 20, he had written enough symphonies to last a lifetime. Not only was he great, but he was also a great prodigy.

He taught himself to play the violin at 7! How could you do this when you're angry at your father and your mother dies? He was in grief! Yet he could do these magnificent things. Without Mozart, Beethoven couldn't have done anything.

Although Albert Einstein was a smart mathematician and physicist of his century, Mozart, in my opinion, is the Einstein of music. Even people usually call him a "musical genius." Not to mention, although Einstein loved music, he started falling in love with Mozart's music the most.

21 Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and the putative founder of the movement called Pythagoreanism.

This guy structured math and influenced the entire scientific and mathematical body of knowledge ever since. He's clearly a genius.

I won't pretend that I fully understand his work, though, so I'll just stop talking now.

I fear he is in this position because people are ignorant of his achievements, which required both calm, persistent logic and free-flowing, unstoppable creativity.

Hitler was a dysfunctional loser, but Pythagoras and others here were major contributors to humanity. Hitler killed millions.

22 William James Sidis

Probably the smartest man who ever lived, just not well-known. He accomplished more before his teen years than most do in a lifetime. Although not necessarily interested in language as an adult, he could still put anyone to shame with the number of languages he mastered.

This guy wrote so many books, it's said that there could be at least 50 that have never even been read by anyone. Most people likely wouldn't understand them anyway. His theories on space and time were right up there with Tesla's, and he even invented a perpetual motion clock.

The issue with him is that he dropped out of society for most of his adult life. Frankly, I don't see anyone on this list coming close to him in intelligence. When you know the answers before you even open the book, you are in a class by yourself. Yet, he's way down the list because the average person is going to pick names they know. Many of them don't have that natural intelligence. They just happen to learn a lot and apply it.

23 Marie Curie Marie Skłodowska Curie, born Maria Salomea Skłodowskap, was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

23? I'm surprised. She is one of the most intelligent and clever people in all of history. She discovered two elements, Polonium and Radium, plus she invented the X-ray.

Without her, many people could have had broken bones and we would have never known. So, if you have broken a bone and appreciate it being fixed, vote for Marie Curie. Not to mention that Marie Curie also faced hardships, such as scientists going against her. So, for these reasons, Marie Curie is one of the most intelligent people in history.

24 Alexander Graham Bell Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell, an ancestor of mine, may have produced the telephone, but that invention is only a grain of sand in his ocean of ideas and capabilities. His knowledge will continue to shine down upon us.

Not only did he invent the telephone, but he also invented the metal detector, which almost saved President Garfield's life.

The man changed the world as we know it. Without him, who knows where we would be?

25 Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War and succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery,... read more

Abraham Lincoln was better than George Bush and made a significant difference. He knew what was right and what was obviously wrong.

He spoke the truth, delivered one of the greatest speeches in the world, and freed slaves.

The smartest American president in history, and the only person capable of preserving the fragile Union of the United States.

I think he is smart. He made one of the greatest speeches.

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