Galileo Galilei created ideas on the science of motion, which initiated the inspiration that led to Einstein's big idea.
Newton built upon the ideas that Galilei developed and proposed the laws of motion and laws of universal gravitation. He was a mastermind in the area of mathematics and physics.
Leibniz suggested the idea of squaring an object's speed. This also was a crucial piece that soon had put together Einstein's idea.
Du Châtelet was a French woman genius in mathematics and physics, but unfortunately lived during the time in which women were not given respect. She analyzed Gravesande's experiment of dropping led balls into soft clay at various heights. She proved that energy is determined by the square of velocity.
Lavoisier was French tax-collecter and a chemist. He performed an experiment, converting water into a gas and then back to water. He found that the water before and after the conversion remained the same amount. To that, he proposed a theory, saying no amount of mass is ever lost or gained.
Faraday was a British scientist. He performed an experiment where he sent electricity through a metal wire. Faraday places compasses, surrounding the wire. The "North" moved. This concluded that two different forces were connected somehow. This was a science titled electromagnetism and it stated that all forces are connected to one another by energy.
Meitner worked alongside with chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. Together they studied the nucleus of an atom. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave Nazi Germany due to her Austrian heritage. Meitner had to work from a distance but was still very determined to continue her work in finding more about the nuclei and what it does when it is bombarded with more and more neutrons. She recieved reports on what was going on at the University. Working with her nephew, Otto Frisch, she found that the nucleus could split when too many neutrons is added into it, known as nuclear fission.
Einstein collected knowledge and data from others, such as Michael Faraday, Emilie du Chatelet, and Antoine Lavoisier and he built off of what they had discovered. In 1905, he finds that the square root of light's speed connects mass and energy together. Thereupon that, he created an equation: E=mc2 [Energy=mass(speed of light)2].
Maxwell was a Jewish university student that lived during the time of Hitler's time. Of course, because of that, it was a struggle he had to face. Maxwell built the mathematical backbone to electromagnetism. He observed light and developed a concept, saying that light is interconnected to electromagnetism through energy.