(1) Sir Isaac Newton vs. (16) Gottfried Leibniz
(1) Sir Isaac Newton
It may be a myth that Newton discovered the law of gravity when an apple bonked him on the noggin, but it's tough to argue with the guy's genius credentials. By parsing out the composition of white light, he made himself the father of optics. By enumerating his three laws of motion, he became the father of modern physics. By discovering calculus, he became the bane of college freshmen for centuries to come. If that's not enough, he also had a really terrific wig collection.
(16) Gottfried Leibniz
Newton may be hogging all of the credit for calculus, but Leibniz came up with the field independently and actually wrote out the notation we still use today. Leibniz wasn't just a mathematician, though. He was a political adviser to the Duke of Hanover. He tinkered with improving lamps, clocks, submarines, and other gadgets. His work as a mining engineer gets him credit for being one of the first geologists. By showing equal dexterity as a logician and a metaphysical thinker, Leibniz was also one of the preeminent philosophers of his day. In other words: Isaac Who?
The Battle for Calculus! Leibniz probably deserved a higher seed, but we couldn't help making these two old rivals square off to see who the real king of the integral is. There was no love lost between these two geniuses, either; Leibniz spent the last years of his life in a bitter feud with Newton over whether or not he'd simply bogarted Newton's ideas.
[See the whole bracket here.]