Almost 400 people took part in the PhysicsWeb poll, each one naming their top-five physicists. The votes for each physicist were added up and weighted according to how they were ranked by individual voters. This meant that Newton received a higher score than Einstein even though more people voted for the twentieth century physicist. In contrast, a Physics World poll of the world's leading physicists, in which individuals were not asked to rank their choices, put Einstein in the number one spot.

One surprise in both surveys was the large number of theorists in the top ten. And in the PhysicsWeb poll a lot of people voted for Stephen Hawking (who came 16th), while very few voted for nuclear physicist Hans Bethe. In contrast, the Physics World respondents gave Bethe the highest number of votes for a living physicist.

The list below contains all the physicists who scored more than 10 points in the PhysicsWeb survey (where a voter's first choice received five points, their second choice four points, and so on).

Position PhysicsWeb survey Physics World survey
1 Sir Isaac Newton Albert Einstein
2 Albert Einstein Sir Isaac Newton
3 James Clerk Maxwell James Clerk Maxwell
4 Galileo Galilei Niels Bohr
5 Paul Dirac Werner Heisenberg
6 Niels Bohr Galileo Galilei
7 Max Planck Richard Feynman
8 Richard Feynman Paul Dirac &
Erwin Schrödinger
9 Michael Faraday
10 Erwin Schrödinger Ernest Rutherford
>10 Werner Heisenberg
Ernest Rutherford
Ludwig Boltzmann
Enrico Fermi
Stephen Hawking
Lev Landau
Nicolas Copernicus
J. J. Thomson
Marie Curie
Johannes Kepler
Lord Rayleigh
Wolfgang Pauli
John Bardean
Edwin Hubble
Charles Townes
Abdus Salem