Charles Robert Darwin
1809-1882 (died age 73)
Along with Isaac Newton and John Herschel, Charles Darwin is arguably one of the most important figures in science. He founded the theory of evolution, which states that all species evolved over time from common ancestors. This goes against the religious doctrines of Creationism.
Darwin was a prolific science writer, but his most influential book was On the Origin of Species, which he published in 1959. This book introduced his theories of evolution, natural selection and survival of the fittest. It was to become the basis of modern biology.
Despite his accomplishments, Darwin wrote in his autobiography that he was 'naughty' and 'lazy' as a child. His father forced the unfocused student to enter medical school at the University of Edinburgh, even though Darwin reportedly hated the sight of blood. However, he was fascinated by natural sciences - such as the study of marine life, plants and rocks - and eventually quit his medical studies to become a naturalist.