There is a guy by the name of Michael H. Hart, who did a 100 Top Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. I find the idea interesting as it forces one to summarize and to rank what is significant at least in a relative sense. According to wiki the top ten ranking in Hart's book is: 1 Muhammad 2 Isaac Newton 3 Jesus Christ 4 Buddha 5 Confucius 6 St. Paul 7 Ts'ai Lun 8 Johann Gutenberg 9 Christopher Columbus 10 Albert Einstein Physicist I do not think that the physicists in there would continue to be important going in the future, but the religion guys are likely to continue to be important as man is religious by nature. I can also think of many others who should have been ranked higher than those physicists. For instance Einstein is in my view below many other people -- (in addition, I do not believe that Einstein was actually the guy who came up with what is attributed to him as a whole, but that is another subject).