Built on Facts have recently made a list of top 10 physicists. Okay, it is subjective, but still, you might learn something of value, and maybe, you will be interested in it enough to actually want to know more of physics. Who knows. ^_^ Note, these are the main achievements, they may have done more. Anyways, his list consists of:
Isaac Newton: He started physics, and mathematical description of the world, and pretty much any common equation of motion and physics you see is related to his work. Oh, and he co invented calculus too, a mathematical tool that allowed to describe the world in this way.
Albert Einstein: He made these crazy theories of motion and gravity (special and general theory of relativity), and contributed to quantum mechanics with his theory of the photoelectric effect, saying light is in a packet of particles called photons.
James Clerk Maxwell: He unified electricity and magnetism, and made a mathematical model of electricity. He also came up with the radical idea that light is changing magnetic field causing changing electric field causing changing magnetic field, etc.
Michael Faraday: He is famous for his experiments on electricity, and his visualization of it by field lines.
Richard Feynman: He is the co-inventor of quantum electrodynamic, a quantum mechanical way of saying, “why does this light phenomena happen!?” I posted his lecture on the theory.
Ernest Rutherford: He is mainly known for discovering the highly dense, positively charged nucleus. This mean atoms had even more fundamental particles in them.
Erwin Schrodinger: He is famous for his equation called Schrodinger equation, which describes some quantum mechanical things.
Paul Dirac: He developed an equation, the Dirac equation, which again, are quantum mechanic stuffs.
J. J. Thompson: You might know him in your chemistry class for having discovered the electron.
Wolfgang Pauli: He theorized particles had “spin” in them (yeah, I don’t get it either), and that two electrons in an atom can’t exist in the same, let’s just say just for simplicity, “orbits (the orbits are not really defined, and they represent energy levels, basically).” Two electrons could be in the same “orbit,” but they have to be of a different spin, either 1/2 or -1/2.