Top 18 Famous Left-Handed Scientists That You Should Know

Top 18 Famous Left-Handed Scientists That You Should Know

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To celebrate scientists and scientific advancements, we have collected a list of the most famous left-handed scientists that will inspire us for the greater good.

Left-handed people can function in a standard fashion with their non-dominant hands. This ability is one reason why they are so remarkable. Here, we’ll look at some famous scientists who had a dominant left hand. We will also discuss their significant contributions to science, medicine, and engineering.

We conducted in-depth research—and scoured several publications, including the Nobel Prize, to bring you this information. The names below will give you an idea of how these famous left-handers improved the world.

As we get ready to celebrate International Left-handers Day on August 13, let’s look at some of science’s most famous left-handed people.

Famous Left-Handed Scientists

#18. Michael Collins (1930-2021): Part of the Lunar Landing Mission

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Live Online Radio Blog
Credits: Live Online Radio Blog

What makes Michael Collins famous?

Michael Collins, an Italian-American, was a man who has been called many things. He’s been called the “greatest test pilot of all time,” and that’s not even a hyperbolic statement. His achievements as a pilot in the US Airforce are legendary. 

He was also one of the first Americans to fly the CM-107 spacecraft to the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. The crew included other famous astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

But what makes Michael Collins so great? It’s his drive to innovate and push himself beyond his limits. He led a life of adventure and exploration, always looking for new challenges to conquer—and then he turned around and applied those same skills to space travel.

It’s pretty clear why Michael Collins made an excellent astronaut. He had all the skills necessary for success: good communication skills, leadership abilities, and an ability to work under pressure (essential when traveling through space).

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#17. Buzz Aldrin (1930-present): One of The First People To Walk on The Moon

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: History
Credits: History

What makes Buzz Aldrin famous? 

Buzz Aldrin is a retired astronaut, fighter pilot, and engineer. He became the second person to walk on the moon’s surface with Neil Armstrong.

Aldrin was born on January 20, 1930, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He served as a NASA astronaut before joining the AirForce, where he became one of its top pilots.

But Aldrin is well known for his time at NASA.  He was part of NASA’s group of astronauts that left Earth on Apollo 11. During this mission, he piloted the lunar module with Neil Armstrong as commander and Michael Collins as Command Module Pilot.

Aldrin and Armstrong became the first people to walk on the moon’s surface in 1969.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#16. Neil Armstrong (1930-2012): The First Man To Set Foot On The Moon

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: History 
Credits: History 

Neil Armstrong was an American astronaut and engineer. He is known for being the first person to walk on the moon’s surface, which he did in 1969.

He was born in 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and attended Purdue University for his undergraduate degree. After graduating from Purdue, he worked as a naval aviator before joining NASA in 1962

Armstrong’s first space mission was Gemini 8 in 1966 with Buzz Aldrin. He was also part of Apollo 11’s crew that landed on the moon in 1969. This mission became known as “one small step for man” since it was the first time humans walked on another planet (the Soviet Union had done so earlier).

Armstrong won many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#15. Stephen Wolfram (1959-present): The Man Who Introduced A New Kind of Science

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: WIRED
Credits: WIRED

What is Stephen Wolfram known for?

Stephen Wolfram is a British-American scientist and one of the most influential people in the field of computation. 

He is known for his work on cellular automata, a method of modeling complex systems with simple rules, which he first employed in his book A New Kind of Science.

Wolfram was also key in developing a search engine that uses natural language processing to answer questions posed in human language by users. This search engine is known as Wolfram Alpha. 

You can ask “what is the day this month?” or “what is the largest prime number?” and receive answers from Wolfram Alpha’s database of mathematical knowledge. The search engine has become very popular. Top scientists use it in their research.

Stephen Wolfram also led the creation of the Wolfram programming language.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica] 

#14. Brian Kernighan (1942-present): A Scientist Who Co-Authored The First Book on C Programming Language 

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Twitter
Credits: Twitter

What makes Brian Kernighan famous?

Brian Kernighan is a Canadian computer scientist born in Toronto in 1942. He is best known for being one of the foremost experts in the C programming language. He and Dennis Ritchie wrote the first book on C, which has been updated several times since then.

[Source: The New Stack]

#13. Andy Hertzfeld (1953-present): One of The Software Wizards Who Pioneered The Silicon Valley

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Celebrity Net Worth
Credits: Celebrity Net Worth

What makes Andy Hertzfeld famous?

Andy Hertzfeld is a computer scientist, designer, and inventor. He was born in 1953 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University. He then enrolled for his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Hertzfeld is known for co-developing Apple’s Mackintosh computer alongside Steve Wozniak. He was also one of the leading designers behind Google’s user interface.

[Source: Apple Wiki]

#12. Andrea Morello (1972-present): Quantum Engineer Who Pioneered Quantum Computing

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Wikipedia 
Credits: Wikipedia 

What makes Andrea Morello famous?

The Italian Andrea Morello is a University of New South Wales professor who has made significant contributions to quantum engineering. He’s one of the research scientists working on the components of a quantum computer.

Morello’s research focuses on quantum engineering—the study of how to build and use computers that rely on quantum effects rather than classical ones (such as bits). 

He worked with other researchers to create a model that could be used to design quantum computing components. This model was tested using fundamental components such as superconducting qubits and optical cavities.

His work has earned him several top prizes in research, including the Eureka Prize in 2011.

[Source: UNSW Sydney]

#11. Stephen Cook (1939-present): Forefather of Computational Complexity Theory

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: BBVA
Credits: BBVA

What makes Stephen Cook famous?

Stephen Cook is a computer scientist and mathematician born in New York in 1939. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1966, where he studied Mathematics.

Cook is best known for his work on the Cook-Levin theorem, NP-Completeness, and propositional proof complexity. These contributions have shaped computer science and mathematics as we know them today. His research won him the Turing Award in 1982.

[Source: A.M. Turing Award

#10. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): The Painter Who Had a Knack For Science

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Leonardo da Vinci famous?

Leonardo da Vinci was a polymath- an artist, an engineer, and a scientist. The Italian lived during the High Renaissance. It was a time of great art, science, and engineering innovations. 

Also a painter, he is best known for The Mona Lisa. Da Vinci’s left-handedness is visible in his works. He was recognized for his trademark mirror writing style. And, yes, he can draw and write with both his hands.

Leonardo’s other notable works include The Last Supper and Salvator Mundi. He also drew numerous sketches depicting inventions such as helicopters or tanks—only five of which have survived today.

He is best known for his contributions to anatomy, hydrodynamics, optics, and engineering, among others. Although these works were not published during his lifetime, they laid the foundation for future research into those fields.

What is the best Leonardo da Vinci quote?

“Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#9. Irène Joliot-Curie (1897-1956): The Woman Who Followed in Her Parents’ Footsteps 

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Frederic and Joliot Curie. Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica 
Frederic and Joliot Curie. Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica 

Irene Joliot-Curie, the French physicist and chemist, was born in Paris in 1897. She grew up with her parents, who were both scientists. Her father, Pierre Curie, was a physicist who discovered polonium in 1898. Irene’s mother, Marie Sklodowska, was also a scientist and chemist.

In 1923, Irene married Frédéric Joliot-Curie, who was also a chemist. Together they worked on many projects, including discovering how chemicals react when exposed to radiation. In 1935 they won their Nobel Prize for this work, becoming the second married couple to win it after her parents.

What’s the best Irène Joliot-Curie quote?

“The farther the experiment is from theory, the closer it is to the Nobel Prize.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#8. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943): A Man Ahead of His Time

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: History.com
Credits: History.com

What makes Nikola Tesla famous?

Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous inventors and engineers in history. He was born in 1856 in what is now Croatia, and he died in 1943. 

He is best known for his contributions to the modern alternating current (AC) system, making electric power available to homes and businesses everywhere.

He invented the tesla coil, a device that produces high voltage and low amperage. This allowed him to create lightning-fast motors and transmitters.

What’s the best Nikola Tesla quote?

“If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”

[Source: The Smithsonian Magazine]

#7. Yann LeCun (1960-present): A Hero of Deep Learning Who Explores The Dark Matter of Intelligence

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: MIT Technology Review
Credits: MIT Technology Review

What makes Yann LeCun famous?

Yann LeCun is a computer scientist who was born in France in 1960. He is best known for his work on convolutional nets and his contributions to natural language processing, mobile robotics, machine learning, and computational neuroscience. 

LeCun is credited with several important developments, including the development of optical image recognition, DjVu file formatting technology, and the lush programming language. He has won many awards during his career, including the 2018 Turing Award alongside Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio.

What’s the best Yann LeCun quote?

“You never regret taking risks, but you will regret not doing the thing that was risky.”

[Source: ai.nl]

#6. Pierre Curie (1859-1906): The Nobel Laureate 

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: History and Biography 
Credits: History and Biography 

Pierre Curie was a physicist and chemist considered one of the most influential people in history. He was born in Paris in 1859.

Curie’s most famous discovery was regarding radioactivity. He discovered that certain elements were radioactive, which meant they emitted radiation when they changed from one form to another. He also studied magnetism, crystallography, and many other fields.

This discovery earned him the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside Marie Curie (his wife) and Henri Becquerel.

Curie was the first married couple to be awarded a Nobel Prize for their work—they (with Marie Curie) received it jointly in 1903 for their work on radioactivity and magnetism.

What’s the best Pierre Curie quote?

“It would be a fine thing, in which I hardly dare believe, to pass our lives near each other, hypnotized by our dreams.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#5. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727): The Man Who Formulated The Laws of Motion

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica
Credits: Encyclopedia Britannica

What makes Sir Isaac Newton famous?

Sir Isaac Newton was an English scientist and mathematician. He is best known for his contributions to astronomy, physics, and optics and his many other works that extended throughout the 18th century.

His contributions to astronomy were enormous. He was one of the first scientists to suggest that the earth is an oblate spheroid rather than a spherical object. Newton’s work on optics revolutionized how we see things in space. His invention of the reflecting telescope helped him study the solar system. 

Newton’s laws of motion were important in understanding how objects move on Earth.

What’s the best Sir Isaac Newton quote?

“What we know is a drop; what we don’t know is an ocean.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#4. James D. Watson ( 1928-present): Father of DNA Research

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Wikipedia 
Credits: Wikipedia 

What makes James D. Watson famous?

There have been a lot of famous left-handed scientists in the world, but none are as famous as James Dewey Watson. You might not know the name James Dewey Watson, but if you’re a science nerd, chances are you’ve heard of him.

For starters, he’s been called “the father of DNA research.” He was born in 1928 in Chicago. He went to the University of Chicago for his undergraduate degree in genetics before moving to Indiana to complete his doctorate.

Watson is best known for his work with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins on the structure of DNA. In 1953, he proposed that DNA is a double helix that consists of molecules wrapped around each other like a ladder. 

This was the first time anyone had suggested such a structure for DNA. This study contributed to our understanding of how genes are passed on from generation to generation.

Watson shared a Nobel Prize with Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick for their contributions to understanding Nucleic acids.

What’s the best James D. Watson quote?

“Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles.”

[Source: The Nobel Prize]

#3. Marie S. Curie (1867-1934): A Pioneer in Radioactivity 

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Live Science
Credits: Live Science

What makes Marie Curie famous?

Marie Curie was a Polish-born scientist who studied the phenomenon of radioactivity. She was the first female scientist to receive a Nobel Prize, which she won in 1903 and 1911. 

Curie is best known for her research on radiation and radioactivity, which won her two Nobel Prizes: one for chemistry and one for physics. She contributed to the race for cancer treatment. Marie Curie is also famous for discovering radium and polonium.

Pierre and Marie Curie are the first couples to win a Nobel Prize.

She holds many firsts, including:

  • the only woman in the Brussels’ Solvay Conference.
  • the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.
  • the first person to win the prize in two distinct fields.

She died in 1934 from aplastic anemia, which was likely caused by exposure to radiation during her career. As we’ve seen in this list, Marie Curie was a left-handed person, as well as most of her family.

What’s the best Marie Curie quote?

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

[Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, News Think]

#2. Albert Einstein (1879-1955): The Father of Modern Physics Who Had A Dominant Left Hand

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: Biography
Credits: Biography

What makes Albert Einstein famous?

Born in Germany, Einstein is best known for his contributions to modern physics through his work on quantum mechanics and relativity. 

Not only did he develop the theory of relativity, but he also developed one of the most famous equations of all time—the mass-energy equivalence. He came up with the laws of photoelectric effects, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1921.

What’s the best Albert Einstein quote?

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

[Source: Nobel Prize]

#1. Alan Turing (1912-1954): The Father of Modern Computer Science 

Famous Left-Handed Scientists : Credits: War History Online
Credits: War History Online

What makes Alan Turing famous?

Alan Turing is dubbed the father of computer science. 

You may have come across someone saying something is “Turing complete.” The term implies it can be programmed to perform virtually any task.

Also, you may have heard of the Nobel Price for Computer Science. That’s right. It’s the Turing Award.

Finally, the 50-pound bank note. If you have seen the movie “Enigma,” then you will realize Turing was instrumental in winning the information warfare during WWII against Nazi Germany.

Born in 1912 in Maida Vale, London, Alan Turing was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset and then attended King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics as an undergraduate. 

After graduating with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1948, he worked at Manchester University’s Computing Machine Laboratory, contributing to machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence research.

Turing published his paper on “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” which described how machines could think (albeit incorrectly) through their ability to solve problems according to rules. 

In this paper, Turing also introduced the concept of a Universal Turing Machine (UTM), which remains a key theoretical computer science concept today.

Turing joined the Government Code & Cypher School, where he worked on radar systems for Britain’s war effort during World War II. During this time, he was responsible for breaking the German Enigma codes used by German forces during WWII. This gave the allies significant advantages.

Turing is not just remembered for his groundbreaking work in mathematics and computer science—he’s also known for being the first gay man to have his face on a banknote in the United Kingdom. 

Alan Turing faced persecution by the government due to his sexuality. These woes may have led to his death in 1954. 

What’s the best Alan Turing quote?

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

[Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Final Thoughts

Among the many things that can make us unique, having left-handedness is not something we speak about much. Nowadays, many people switch their major hands in drawing and other activities because of societal pressure. 

It is true that the left-handed people are a minority in this country and make up about 20% of the world’s population. But that does not mean that you should disregard them or their contributions. Bill Gates, President Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are some of the famous lefties.

Jimi Hendrix, the famed guitarist, would play right-handed guitars slung upside down. The six-string revolutionary favored a right-handed fender Stratocaster.

What did you think of this list? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below.


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Joannah W.
Joannah has been a science publisher with close to 20 years of experience. She wants to help students and researchers stay ahead of the trends and developments in the science community by making science more accessible to everyone.

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