20 Baby Names Inspired By Scientists

Joe Osborne | Nov 7, 2019 Pregnancy
20 Baby Names Inspired By Scientists
Image: KrisCole/iStock

Isaac Newton
KrisCole/iStock

For those that either want to put great inspiration or great expectations upon their children, there are plenty of scientists after which to name them. Plus, these names -- adapting last names as first names -- are utterly unique.

From the infinite wisdom of Isaac Newton to the inspiring activism of Rosalind Franklin, lots of impactful scientists exist from which to draw inspiration for original baby names. And, when people ask where the name came from, there’s a golden opportunity to educate and impress.

Of course, we would suggest focusing on the inspiring quality of these unique names rather than their potential to drive lofty expectations, as that’s a recipe for disaster. However, we find all of the following names not only genuinely adorable or motivating, but also fresh and exciting.

Whether having a boy or a girl, there are so many incredibly hard-working and innovative people to draw inspiration from. Plus, when the little ones asks about their name's meaning, parents can tell them all about the heros they were named after and their incredible contributions to science.  

Here are 20 names for new babies inspired by some of history’s most accomplished scientists and inventors. May we see some of these kids turn out to be the next Newtons, Carsons, and Sagans in the next several decades.

  • Curie

    1
    Marie Curie
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    For this name, we’re honoring the works of Marie Curie (November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934), the woman who coined the very term “radioactivity.” She also discovered the elements polonium and radium, and she developed mobile X-ray technology for nurses in World War I. Plus, the name sounds quirky and cute, doesn’t it?

  • Newton

    2
    Isaac Newton
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    We should all know where this name is coming from, but we’ll say it anyway: Isaac Newton (December 25, 1642 – March 20, 1727) is arguably the father of calculus and basic understandings of physics for nearly two centuries before Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity. Also, it sounds understandably smart.

  • Rosalind

    3
    Rosalind Franklin
    MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology - Jenifer Glynn/Wikimedia Commons

    This one goes out to none other than Rosalind Franklin (July 25, 1920 – April 16, 1958), who is responsible for making the discovery of the double helix within DNA molecules possible, thanks to her expertise in X-ray technology. It’s a unique first name as well.

  • Faraday

    4
    Michael Faraday
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Not only is this an exotic-sounding name, but without Michael Faraday (September 22, 1791 – August 25, 1867) we may not have discovered the concept of electromagnetic fields as early as we did in history. He’s essentially responsible for the explosion in electronics of the past several hundred years.

  • Carson

    5
    Rachel Carson
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    If it weren’t for marine biologist Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964), we wouldn’t have the book Silent Spring that arguably inspired the modern environmentalist movement and spurred the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also a cute-sounding, faux-masculine first name.

  • Hawking

    6
    Steven Hawking
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Chosen for none other than physicist Steven Hawking (January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018), this is an intriguing first name. Also, he’s responsible for discovering the theoretical singularity, the establishing mechanics of black holes, and several more fundamental understandings of the universe.

  • Ada

    7
    Ada Lovelace
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    This is an elegant, subtle first name that references Ada Lovelace (December 10, 1815 – November 27, 1852), known for her incredible contributions to modern day computing as we know it. This was done via her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, developing the first algorithm.

  • Sagan

    8
    Carl Sagan
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Chosen to respect the works of astronomer Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996), this is an extremely interesting first name. Sagan was known best for his works on public television, such as Cosmos, and his contributions toward the search for extraterrestrial life.

  • Cori

    9
    Gerty Cori
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    This one goes out to Gerty Cori (August 15, 1896 – October 2, 1957), the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the process by which human muscle tissue breaks down glycogen into lactic acid and is then reabsorbed by the body and stored for energy.

  • Darwin

    10
    Charles Darwin
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Here’s another excellent first name, practically equated with today’s understanding of evolution: Charles Darwin (February 23, 1809 – April 19, 1882). What an intriguing first name, made that much more so by the scientist who defined the concept of “natural selection.”

  • Nettie

    11
    Nettie Stevens
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    This an adorable first name chosen in honor of Nettie Stevens (July 7, 1861 – May 4, 1912), an early American geneticist credited with the discovery of the X and Y chromosomes. She’s also one of the first American women to have her contributions to science widely recognized.

  • Graham

    12
    Alexander Graham Bell
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    We’ve chosen this slight disambiguation from Alexander Graham Bell (March 3,1847 – August 2, 1922), best known as the inventor of the first telephone. He founded the America, American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), and modern global communication would not be as it is today without him.

  • Sally

    13
    Sally Ride
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Although not particularly notable for a first name, we couldn’t neglect the first woman in space. Sally Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) would become the first female and youngest American to leave near-orbit in 1983 on the second mission of the Challenger space shuttle.

  • Hooke

    14
    Robert Hooke
    Rita Greer/Wikimedia Commons

    If it weren’t for Robert Hooke (July 28, 1635 – March 3, 1703), Isaac Newton may have never arrived at his conclusions regarding the properties of gravity and how they affect the arrangements of the planets. Hooke, which is such a cool-sounding first name, is also responsible for first proposing the theory that light consists of waves.

  • Ida

    15
    Ida Noddack
    Dome_de [CC BY-SA 3.0]/WIkimedia Commons

    Ida Noddack (February 25, 1896 – September 24, 1978) is responsible for the discovery of nuclear fission, having first published the idea in 1934. This may have opened Pandora’s box, leading to the development of nuclear weapons, but it also made nuclear power possible and contributed to further discovery of how the atomic world works. It’s also an elegant first name.

  • Dmitri

    16
    Dmitri Mendeleev
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Russian chemist and inventor Dmitri Mendeleev (February 8, 1834 – February 2, 1907) is often referred to as the “Father of the Periodic Table.” Without his contemplative work, scientists could still be working with a flawed arrangement of the known elements -- and what an exotic first name.

  • Hedy

    17
    Hedy Lamarr
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was not only an accomplished Hungarian actress but also an equally accomplished inventor. She developed radio technologies such as spread spectrum techniques that prevented jamming at the time and formed the basis of Bluetooth and legacy versions of Wi-Fi. What a cute first name to boot.

  • Leonardo

    18
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

    Chosen to honor none other than the great Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519), this gorgeous first name can also be shortened to the adorable-sounding “Leo.” Known more as a Renaissance man than a straight scientist, da Vinci contributed ideas such as flying machines and solar-generated power that have revolutionized the world.

  • Inge

    19
    Inge Lehmann
    The Royal Library, National Library of Denmark, and University of Copenhagen University Library

    A Danish geophysicist, Inge Lehmann (May 13, 1888 – February 21, 1993) is credited with discovering that the Earth’s core consists of a solid interior surrounded by molten mass. This contributed greatly to modern understandings of seismology. She’s one of the longest-ever living scientists (104 years!), and had an interesting-sounding name first name.

  • Pascal

    20
    Blaise Pascal
    Copy of the painting of François II Quesnel, made for Gérard Edelinck en 169/Wikimedia Commons

    Although it's an interesting-sounding first name, we’ve included this one for the sheer gravity of Blaise Pascal’s (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) contributions to the computing community. Pascal is credited as one of two inventors of the mechanical calculator, as well as for contributions to how we understand economics and social science.

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