Contrary to public opinion, Albert Einstein didn't always struggle in school, but certainly was obstinate when it came to teachers' authoritarian rule. He became interested in science at a young age when his father showed him a compass, and he even drafted a proof of the Pythagorean theorem when he was just 12 years old.
Richard Feynman's father Melville, a ne'er-do-well businessman, was a scientist at heart, and when Richard was born he swore to do everything in his power to raise the little tyke up to be a scientist. Richard recalls that his father imparted a seriousness to him that, and that even as a child Richard was teaching himself scientific concepts and reading Encyclopedia Britannica long before entering school.
When Isaac was three years old, his mother was betrothed to a clergyman in a nearby town. When the two were married, they left Isaac with his maternal grandmother as they two went to live in their new house. Isaac was not close with his grandmother, and so this change stirred up in him some anger. He recalls having threatened his mother and stepfather that he'd "burne them and the house over them." Luckily he didn't, otherwise we may not have gotten algebra.
Although Marie Curie was a top-performing student, she was not allowed to attend the University of Warsaw, which was exclusively male. Instead, she continued to take classes as the "floating university," which was a kind of underground school that helped Poland's youth gain scholarship. Before making her breakthroughs, she had to work as a tutor and governess for many years.
Funny thing about Stephen Hawking was, he wasn't a girl. Regardless, when he was of age, he attended St. Albans School for Girls. Besides that, he had a pretty normal upbringing: so normal, that his mother said of him, "I think Stephen was a very normal young man."
It's tough to tell from this picture, but Max Planck was once a joyous young boy. At a young age, the boy's family moved to Munich, Germany, which proved to be a formative place for the young physicist: the city, the mountains, and the culture there all contributed to a well-rounded personality. He did well in school, and was well-liked, and one of his school reports stated that he was, "Justifiably favoured by both teachers and classmates ... and despite having childish ways, he has a very clear, logical mind. Shows great promise."
Galileo was born into a wealthy family, and as a young child he followed somewhat in his father's footsteps by learning the lute (his father was an accomplished lutist). The thing about his growing up that would prove ironic later on was that Galileo actually wanted to join the priesthood ”” remember, he was later threatened by the Catholic church for his views on heliocentrism, but his father urged him to study medicine. While studying medicine at the University of Padua, Galileo became enamored of a pendulum, which set in motion the cogs of his physics-geared mind.
Michael Faraday didn't have it cush growing up. He was one of four kids growing up in the Christian household headed by a father who was often ill and incapable of providing for his family. His mother was a modest and humble person who helped guide the children through the emotional journey, and Michael ended up making his own at the age of 14 when he took a job as a newspaper deliverer.
Ernest Rutherford had a rough and tumble growing up in New Zealand, tending to his father's farm and manufacturing operations. When the family moved to Havelock, Ernest would dutifully complete his schoolwork and chores, and then help pick fruit and fish for other families in the neighborhood.
ErnestSchrödinger grew up in a religious household, though considered himself an atheist. The boy was home-schooled until 10, and then entered a local Gymnasium where he excelled. It was as an apprentice that Ernest would come acquainted with philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer's works, which influenced him greatly.
Werner Heisenberg studied the piano from a young age, and was even composing little ditties by the age of 13. But his father's scholarly lifestyle (he was lecturer at the University of Wurzburg) led the boy to follow a path towards physics. But that path often detoured into hiking trails, of which Werner was a great fan.
Tesla was born into a Serbian family in Austria, and was one of four children (his older brother died when Tesla was only five). His mother Djuka had a brilliant mind, and could memorize Serbian epic poetry on a dime and also invented home appliances, which very well might be where Tesla got his skills from. Tesla rejected his father's wishes for him to join the cloth (Tesla's dad was an Orthodox priest) , and instead took to the sciences.
Paul Dirac didn't have a great childhood. His father was draconian and explicit with his intimidation of his children, both at home and at school, where the children attended and where Mr. Dirac worked as a French teacher. Paul, either by natural inclination or forced learning, didn't speak much growing up, a consequence of which his internal world became very vast and meticulous. Later his (few) close friends would remark that though the man had little to say, his physics papers were of the highest grade.
His father a railroad inspector and his mother a schoolteacher, Fermi's upbringing was rather atypical. He went to school and received the usual education there. But outside the classroom is where Fermi really flourished. A friend of his father's, an engineer, picked up on Enrico's penchant for physics, and leant the young boy books which ultimately laid the groundwork for his mental training.
James Clerk Maxwell showed his interested in learning at a young age. But the road to mental maturity was not easy, as his mother passed when he was eight, his tutor was abusive, his father doting, all of which contributed to an isolated education and early life at school. He had trouble making friends, and instead spent his time theorizing and reading. Like so many young folk, it was when he went to university that he was able to show off his true colors.