Famous Slovak Researchers

Vojtech Alexander (1857 – 1916) – radiologist

One of the world’s greatest radiologists and the founder of radiology in the Hungarian Kingdom. He described the development of tuberculosis and owned the first X‑ray apparatus in Slovakia.

Ján Bahýľ
(1865 – 1916) – engineer and inventor
Inventor of the motor‑powered helicopter (four years before Bréguet and Cornu). He was granted 17 military and other technical patents for the invention of the tank pump, hot air balloon combined with an air turbine, the first petrol engine car in Slovakia, a lift to Bratislava Castle and other inventions.

Štefan Banič
(1870 – 1941) – inventor

Lived in the USA from 1907 to 1921. He constructed a prototype parachute in 1913, which was registered at the United States Patent Office. He was also involved in improving mining production and bridge construction. The parachute has become a vital part of modern aviation.

Matej Bel (1684 – 1749) – polyhistor
Polymath, educationist, scientist and evangelical priest. He was one of the greatest scientific figures of the 18th century, referred to as the Magnum decus Hungariae – the Great Ornament of Hungary. He made an important contribution to pietism, was a pioneer in the field of collective research into the Hungarian nation, and carried out comprehensive scientific, historical and geographical research. He was the co‑author of a unique account of agriculture in the Hungarian Empire. Works: Hungaria antiquae et novae prodromus (1723), Adparatus ad historiam Hungariae (1735 – 1736) and Notitia Hungariae novae historico‑geographica (1735 – 1742). The Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica bears his name.

Dionýz Blaškovič (1913 – 1998) – bacteriologist and virologist

Received international recognition for his research of pathogenesis, biological and biochemical properties of bacteria, laboratory diagnosis of viral infections, and the ecology of influenza virus and tick‑borne encephalitis.

Jozef Karol Hell
(1713 – 1789) – mining engineer and inventor
Inventor of the water‑pillar pump machine, which was able to pump huge amounts of groundwater from mines from a depth of 212 meters and is still used for oil extraction. He also constructed an air‑cleaning device used in mines and a device for pumping fresh air into underground depths.

Maximilián Hell
(1720-1792) – astronomer

One of the greatest astronomers of the 18th century and a director of the Imperial Observatory in Vienna, Austria. In 1769, he correctly calculated the Sun’s parallax and measured the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The crater Hell on the Moon bears his name.

Dionýz Ilkovič
(1907 – 1980) – physicist and physical chemist
Founder of Slovak physics. He played a distinguished part in elaborating the theory of polarography for which his teacher and collaborator Jaroslav Heyrovský was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1959. He is the author of Ilkovič’s equation. The article, where the equation was derived, is the most quoted work of a Slovak physical chemist.

Štefan Anián Jedlík
(1800 – 1895) – physicist and inventor

Experimented with electromagnetic rotating devices which he called “lightning‑magnetic self‑rotors”, constructed a predecessor of the modern electromotor three years before M. Faraday, and the unipolar dynamo six years before W. Siemens. Discovered the possibility of voltage multiplication and demonstrated it with a "tubular voltage generator” (an early form of the impulse generators now applied in nuclear research).

Ján Jessenius (1566 – 1621) – physician

Famous physician, anatomist and rector of Charles University in Prague. In 1600, he carried out the first public dissection in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. He was also a Protestant activist and was executed after the Battle of White Mountain (“Bíla Hora”) at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. Jessenius Faculty of Medicine in Martin of the Comenius University in Bratislava bears his name.

Ján Wolfgang Kempelen (1734 – 1804) – polytechnician and inventor

Constructed a chess‑playing automaton called the Turk, manually operated speaking machine, steam engines, water pump for Bratislava castle, the steam turbine for mills, a typewriter for blind people, and built a pontoon bridge in Bratislava, the famous fountains in the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna and a theatre house in Budapest, and reconstructed the castle in Budapest.

Filip Anton Eduard von Lenard
(1862 – 1947) – physicist

One of the most significant physicists of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was born in Bratislava but later moved to Germany. He was engaged in the research of cathode rays, photoelectric effect, spectral analysis, phosphorescence, luminescence, ultraviolet rays, magnetic and electric fields. He also co‑operated with H. R. Hertz on the verification of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic waves. In 1905, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on cathode rays.

Samuel Mikovíny (1700 – 1750) – geodesist and cartographer
Invented an original cartographic method, where he surveyed and marked out the basic triangulation polygon from Bratislava Castle Tower via Zobor Hill to Sitno Hill and Banská Bystrica. Emperor Charles VI commissioned him to produce a collection of maps of Hungary. He closely co‑operated with Matej Bel (produced maps for some of his publications). He designed water (anti‑flood works), mining, military (fortifications) and other constructions, and artificial water reservoirs near the mines in the region of Banská Štiavnica. He also surveyed caves. In 1735, he became head of the first mining high school in the Hungarian Kingdom.

Jozef Murgaš (1864 – 1929) – geodesist and cartographer

Lived in the USA, where he worked as a priest. He was also involved in electrical engineering and registered 12 patents in the field of wireless telegraphy. He established different frequencies for the dots and dashes in the Morse code, thus accelerating the transmission of messages. His other patents include the spinning reel (for fishing), wavemeter, electric transformer, magnetic detector and an engine producing electromagnetic waves. He is often referred to as the “Slovak Edison” or “Radio Priest”.

Ľudmila Pajdušáková (1916 – 1979) – astronomer

The first Slovak woman astronomer, a specialist in solar astronomy. She made her name as the discoverer of 5 comets (1-period comet and 4 non‑periodic comets). Other examples of her scientific research included the systematic observation of meteors (among them the Umid meteor shower in 1945) and observations of the Sun. Her facsimile collection published in 1946, which included more than 11,000 meteorites on 10,000 facsimiles, was, at that time, the second-largest in the world after the Harvard collection. A minor planet 3,636 Pajdušáková, discovered in 1982, bears her name.

Jozef Maximilián Petzval (1807 – 1891) – mathematician, physicist, inventor

One of the foremost European researchers in the 19th century; considered the founder of geometrical optics, modern photography and cinematography. He is best remembered for his work on optical lenses and lens aberration in the early 1840s (the Petzval curvature is named after him) which made possible the construction of modern cameras. Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens that was vastly superior to the simple meniscus lens used at that time. Among his inventions are also opera glasses. The crater Petzval on the far side of the Moon bears his name. (J. M. Petzval Museum, Petzvalova ul. 3, Spišská Belá).

Ján Andrej Segner
(1704 – 1777) – physician, astronomer, physicist and mathematician
One of the best‑known scientists of his age. Designed a reactive water engine known as the Segner wheel, and invented the water turbine principle, which formed the basis for the functioning of modern space rockets. The crater Segner on the Moon bears his name, as does the minor planet 28 878 Segner (discovered in 2000).

Ján Selye
(1907 – 1982) – physician

Pioneer of endocrinology. Discovered the stress reaction and the adaptation syndrome; did research into the killer illness of the 20th century, coronary thrombosis. Moved to Canada where he established the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the Université de Montréal. J. Selye University in Komárno bears his name.

Aurel Stodola
(1859 – 1942) – engineer, physicist and inventor
Graduated in the field of mechanical engineering and worked as a professor at the Federal Polytechnic in Zurich, Switzerland (one of his students was Albert Einstein). He achieved his greatest successes in the area of steam and gas turbines; his calculations and constructions forming the basis of this particular field of mechanical engineering. In 1915, he constructed a movable artificial arm, known as Stodola’s arm. He was awarded the most prestigious engineering awards – the Grashof Medal (1908) and the James Watt Gold Medal (1940). He was also a corresponding member of the French Academy of Sciences.

Milan Rastislav Štefánik
(1880 – 1919) – politician, military pilot and officer, and astronomer

The most important Slovak politician participating in the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. Originally a scientist, he studied astronomy in Prague and Paris. Štefánik specialised in astrophysics and especially in solar physics. The Armed Forces Academy of General Milan Rastislav Štefánik in Liptovský Mikuláš bears his name.

Dionýz Štúr (1827 – 1893) – geologist, palaeontologist and botanist
Outstanding and world‑famous scientist. He carried out geological research throughout the entire Austro‑Hungarian Kingdom and he compiled the first geological map of Monarchy. Those works were very important for Slovakia and became a milestone for systematic geological research of the Western Carpathians. He was a director of the Imperial Geological Institute in Vienna (1885 – 1892). The State Geological Institute of Dionýz Štúr in Bratislava bears his name.

Ľudovít Štúr (1815 – 1856) – politician, national activist and linguist

The leading figure of the Slovak National Revival in the 19th century. Together with Jozef Miloslav Hurban and Michal Hodža, he codified modern Slovak language in 1844. Ľudovít Štúr’s “Standard Slovak” was published in 1846 in his “Náuka reči slovenskej” or “Theory of the Slovak language”. Ľudovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava bears his name.

Viliam Thurzo (1912 – 1984) – physician
Founder of cancer research, research of oncogenic viruses and experimental oncology in Slovakia. He discovered a new type of virus called B77, which is still used as a model for research into the genesis of tumours.