Top 10 Greatest Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize

The nobel prize can be as controversial as it is prestigious.

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize

This is a list of scientists who have contributed greatly to our understanding of the world but who unfortunately never won the top honors. While some of the nobel snubs were the product of personal grudges or general biases particularly against women, others were matters of bad timing.

10. Stephen Hawking

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
British physicist and mathematician

The ailing theoretical physicist was known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. For a man who was given just a few years to live in his twenties not only did he beat the odds but also revolutionized physics for next half a century.

9. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Her discovery of rotating neutron stars was recognized by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but despite the fact that she was the first to observe the pulsars, Bell was excluded from the recipients of the prize.

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Irish astrophysicist

As a postgraduate student, she helped in building the 16,000 m² radio telescope over two years and was the first person to notice the anomaly, sometimes reviewing as much as 29 meters of paper data per night.

8. George Sudarshan

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Indian physicist

In 2005 several physicists wrote to the Swedish Academy, protesting that Sudarshan should have been awarded a share of the Prize for the Sudarshan–Glauber representation in quantum optics, for which American physicist Roy J. Glauber won his share of the prize.

7. Chien-Shiung Wu

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Chinese experimental physicist

She is best known for conducting the Wu experiment, which contradicted the most revered law of conservation of parity. This discovery resulted in her colleagues Lee and Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics. Wu was not publicly honored until 1978.

6. Lise Meitner

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Austrian-Swedish Chemist

Lise Meitner along with long-time collaborator Otto Hahn led a small group of scientists who became the first to discover the nuclear fission of Uranium. The 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded exclusively to Otto Hahn and once again, a deserving candidate was not recognized.

According to Physics TodayMeitner's exclusion from the chemistry award may well be summarized as a mixture of disciplinary bias, political obtuseness, ignorance, and haste. Today, nuclear fission is used to produce electricity in the nuclear power plants.

5. Georges Lemaitre

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Belgian Cosmologist

Lemaître proposed the Big Bang theory. He was the first cosmologist ever nominated for the 1954 Nobel Prize in physics for his prediction of the expanding universe. Remarkably, he was also nominated for the 1956 Nobel prize in chemistry for his primeval-atom theory. He did not win both times.

4. Henri Poincaré

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
French scientist

Poincaré is considered brighter than Einstein by many a scientists. He was the first to propose gravitational waves emanating from a body and propagating at the speed of light as being required by the Lorentz transformations. Poincaré was nominated a record 51 times for the Nobel Prize but never won.

3. Nikola Tesla

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Serbian Inventor

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant inventor known for his contributions to physics and engineering. He is most recognized for developing the alternating current electric system, which is still the predominant system used across the world today. His other inventions include Tesla coil, remote control and wireless telegraphy.

2. Edwin Hubble

First, he revolutionized cosmology by showing that ours was not the only galaxy. The clouds of light which astronomers saw in the night sky were actually other galaxies beyond our Milky Way. He calculated distances to these galaxies.

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
American Astronomer

Second, he took the world by storm by proving that the galaxies were moving away from one another. The entire universe was expanding. He calculated the speeds at which the galaxies were receding. At the time of these two crucial discoveries, the Nobel Prize in Physics did not recognize work done in astronomy.

Hubble spent much of the latter part of his career attempting to have astronomy considered an area of physics. Shortly after his death, the Nobel Prize Committee decided that astronomical work would be eligible for the physics prize, however, the prize is not one that can be awarded posthumously.

1. Satyendra Nath Bose

Top 10 Great Scientists Who Never Won A Nobel Prize
Indian Theoretical Physicist

Bose is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate, the fifth state of matter.

Bose's work was evaluated by an expert of the Nobel Committee, Oskar Klein, who did not see his work worthy of a Nobel Prize.

Several Nobel Prizes were awarded related to the field initiated by him but Bose himself was never presented the coveted prize. Yet half the particles in the universe obey him and that itself is a remarkable achievement.


  1. Injustice witj Indian and women scientists.

    1. Please give specific names, otherwise there is no validity of such claim

  2. There's also G.N LEWIS, who was denied the NOBEL prize, because of petty politics and ego issues with LINUS PAULING.

    1. Mendeleev was denied NL thrice due to objection of Arrhenius .

  3. Ramachandran plot, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramanujan etc... I think all nations should plan and come up with a prize better than Nobel

  4. Add Rosalind Franklin who, along with Maurice Wilkins, James Watson and Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA. She died before the prize was awarded (it is not awarded posthumously) but, regardless, she certainly deserved it as much as her lab colleague Wilkins.

  5. Einstein fans forget that he plagiarised from Poincaré and Frau Metner.

    Tesla, of course, lost out because the Nobel Committee was wary of ignoring Edison (essentially a shrewd businessman).

  6. Indians suck at physics..they are left over shit of bigbang.

  7. It is not an easy matter to give a Nobel Prize for a invention. This is because involvement of many people in the final product.
    Tesla has numerous patents for various ideas yet he was not deserved for the prize.
    Even the electricity distribution system we used today is not entirely for his credit. Final 3-Phase system with Star-Delta method was due to a Russian-German inventor Dolivo-Dobrovolsky.

  8. actually, Nobel had specified in his will that there would be no Nobel prize for mathematics (as well known) but also no Nobel prize for astronomy. That is the reason why so many brillant astrophysicists did not get it. Since the astronomy of the 20th century got involved a lot with physics...this condition was relaxed essentially because the discovery of pulsrs were the proof of the existence of neutron stars (lots of physics in there). The real shame among these people is for Bose and Meitner. Jocelyn Bell had just turned the switches. And indeed, Rosalind Franklin died of cancer in 56 when the prize was awarded only in 62.


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