It’s truly mind-boggling to think how our modern world came into being, the countless hours of labour from billions of people working day in and day out through moments of strife, imagination, and discovery. Of course, the talents of a select few individuals have left a legacy that extends far beyond most of our wildest dreams.
As a centre of scientific, cultural, and political change for the last few centuries, the UK has produced many notable people who have truly changed the world. Their achievements have permanently impacted our technological faculties, our understanding of the physical universe, and even the lengths of our lives.
On your next visit to the UK, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the lives of these great people and, in some cases, even tread the streets they once walked. Let’s dive into our list of the top 5 British people who changed the world.
Darwin’s conclusions about the origin of species received much criticism when they were published in the mid 1800s. So convincing, however, were his observations that within only 20 years, the theory of evolution had been accepted as scientific fact. The globe-trotting naturalist, biologist, and geologist forever transformed how humans understand their own history and the history of the natural world.
Alexander Graham Bell
As the owner of the first US patent on the telephone, Bell is most often credited as it’s the inventor. The transformative power of his achievement cannot be underestimated. The telephone changed not only the way we communicate but also the very possibility of global communications and a hyper-connected future.
Unbeknownst to many, the telephone was not his only achievement, and Bell went on to produce great work in aeronautics, optic telecommunications, and hydrofoils.
Sir Isaac Newton
The single greatest genius that the UK has ever produced – this is the only fitting description of Sir Isaac Newton. His laws of motion and theories of universal gravitation deeply impacted the global scientific community that he is often thought of as the father of modern physics.
He invented the first reflecting telescope, identified a pioneering theory of light and colour, made the first accurate calculation of the speed of sound, and made enormous contributions to mathematics. His true contributions are too many to list here – you’ll have to visit his house in London.
Dubbed ‘the father of railways’ George Stephenson’s company built the first ever steam train to carry passengers on a public line – the Locomotion No.1. The dawning of the age of railways transformed countries around the world into fast-moving, industrial machines that could support a much higher standard of living for their populations.
Babbage’s accomplishments were many as a stellar mathematician, a sterling philosopher, and an expert mechanical engineer. His biggest achievement, however, was undoubtedly the invention of the world’s first mechanical computer. His ‘difference engine’ would pave the way for an entirely new world of digital innovation, which he could barely begin to imagine in his time.