Archive Gallery: 10 Renowned Scientists Make Their PopSci Debut

Early appearances by Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Ernest Rutherford, and other notable 20th-century scientists

If there’s one thing in our archives more impressive than the retrofuturistic illustrations, it’s the number of superstar scientists who have shown up in our magazine over the years. Back in the day, our writers secured interviews with everyone from radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi to “famous prophet of science” Nikola Tesla. To say that we’re jealous of our predecessors would be a gross understatement, so we’ve compiled a quick roundup of these scientific celebrity encounters for your vicarious enjoyment. In addition to highlighting interviews with notable figures, we’ve included articles written by famous scientists, as well as features published at the peak of their careers.

Click to launch the photo gallery.

One of our first notable contributors was the father of the telephone himself, Alexander Graham Bell. You’d think he’d be a busy man, but in between racing to the patent office and tinkering with his devices, Bell found the time to write a lengthy article about using tellurium selenium alloys to produce high-quality sound. If that process sounds a little arcane, don’t worry — Bell provided illustrations for clarity.

As much as we hoped to see a piece written by Albert Einstein, it turns out that most prominent scientists declined to contribute entire articles to us after the turn of the century. Chances are, they were too preoccupied with spending their Nobel Prize winnings to hammer out essays for consumer magazines.

On the other hand, it’s hard to resist the charms of a glowing secondhand account. After spending a day with Tesla, our journalist said, “To talk with Dr. Tesla is to become acquainted with an extraordinary life packed with adventure into uncharted realms of knowledge.” Elsewhere in the article, his glee practically radiates off the page.

Given the number of innovators who cropped up in the past 138 years, we couldn’t include every historical figure featured on our pages. But do a quick search through our archives and see if you don’t find at least one ode to your favorites.

Click through our gallery to see the earliest PopSci cameos by Albert Einstein, Robert H. Goddard, Marie Curie, and more eminent scientists from the 20th century.

Alexander Graham Bell: July 1881
Leo Baekeland: January 1923
Marie Curie: April 1924
William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg: August 1921
Albert Einstein: March 1920
Ernest Rutherford: February 1924
Thomas Edison: January 1927
Guglielmo Marconi: January 1928
Nikola Tesla: November 1928
Robert H. Goddard: December 1931