History is full of icons and innovators who have influenced the way we live in more ways than one; it is almost impossible, therefore, to draw a comprehensive list of the smartest people in history. Different cultures and civilizations have had men and women who stood out for their brilliance, and their work transformed countless lives. Compiling a list of the smartest people has never been an easy task, and every recorded attempt has been met with widespread criticism.
However, of all the lists ever made, the unorthodox ranking approach undertaken by Libb Thimmsz – an electrochemical engineer – stands out. Overtime, he ranked people based on heightened inclination, marked capacity, and strong aptitude alongside their IQ. Many ranking approaches have followed his standard ever since. And so have we!
So who are the five most known smartest people of all time? We review five notable names below but note that our list is by no means exhaustive, and you may not agree with some of the names recorded; however, no one can deny that their work did change the way we viewed and interacted with the world around us.
5 Most Known Smartest People That Ever Lived
James Maxwell was a Scotsman noted for having an IQ ranging from 190-205. He was a mathematician and a physicist best known for propounding the electromagnetic theory of radiation. His work had a tremendous impact on physics and is credited for laying the groundwork of quantum theory as we know it today. Such was his impact that he was revered by many, including Albert Einstein. When Einstein was asked whether he stood on Isaac Newton’s shoulders, he differed from Maxwell. So profound was his work.
Newton is among the list of popular scientists of all time, and his law of gravitation remains an instrumental factor in the evolution of modern science. Based on the results of different IQ measurements, researchers believed that he had an IQ of between 190-200. The English Physicist wrote the book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” which many believe is the most influential scientific publication of all time. Despite his passing several centuries ago, his universal laws of gravity remain the bedrock of every scientific field starting from the 17th century when he published his work.
Leonardo da Vinci
There is a reason why Da Vinci is on every ‘smartest people’ list. He was a polymath in his own right. Leonardo was a mathematician, engineer, painter, musician, artist, geologist, inventor, botanist, cartographer, and anatomist. He remained arguably the most talented man to ever work the earth and had an estimated IQ of 180-220 based on a different account. Some of his notable works are bus solar power designs, the flying machines, adding machines, and an armored vehicle; his paintings command a high price today. So complicated were many of his designs that most weren’t realized in his lifetime.
The man, whom many regard as the father of Physics, is arguably the most popular scientist of all time. German-born Albert Einstein had an estimated IQ of 205-225, if modern measuring scales are anything to go by. His best known works include the theory of relativity which he devoted most of his academic life to in order to disprove the quantum theory. Another famous work of his was the mass energy equivalence E = mc2 formula, regarded as the most famous equation in the world. He died at the age of 76 in 1955, and his work remains a reference point to date.
Another historic figure worthy of his place on the list is Johann Goethe, regarded by Einstein as the last man to know everything. Just like Da Vinci, Goethe was a polymath who developed the school of human chemistry, which is one of the earliest theories of evolution. He was said to have had an estimated IQ of 210-225 by different measurement scales. His book, “Faust,” a poetic drama, is among the greatest books of Western literature was published in 1808 and has been studied by literature students to date.
Many figures are worthy of their place in the list of smartest historical figures in history, but these five can also hold their own. Einstein influenced physics, and his work launched the move toward quantum mechanics as we know it today, which is heavily influenced by his theory of relativity. Da Vinci and Goethe were polymaths. The former was a known designer but also painted some of the most iconic paintings in history, while Goethe was just good at almost everything. Maxwell and Newton’s works influenced other scientists who went on to make groundbreaking discoveries. They may be long gone, but their work remains a reference point in the arts and science community. Even those who are neither scientists nor artists have had their lives altered for the better because of their contribution to society.