Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 July 1742 – 24 February 1799) was a German scientist, satirist and Anglophile. As a scientist, he was the first to hold a professorship explicitly dedicated to experimental physics in Germany. Today, he is remembered for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modeled on the English bookkeeping term "waste books", and for his discovery of the strange treelike patterns now called Lichtenberg figures.
Lichtenberg was the youngest of seventeen children of pastor Johann Conrad Lichtenberg. His father, ascending through the ranks of the church hierarchy, eventually became superintendent for Darmstadt. Unusually for a clergyman in those times, he seems to have possessed a fair amount of scientific knowledge. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was educated at his parents' house until ten years of age, when he joined the Lateinschule in Darmstadt. His intelligence and wit became obvious at a very early age. He wanted to study mathematics, but his family could not afford to pay for lessons. In 1762 his mother applied to Ludwig VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, who granted sufficient funds. In 1763, Lichtenberg entered Göttingen University, where in 1769 he became extraordinary professor of physics, and six years later ordinary professor. He held this post till his death.
Lichtenberg became a hunchback owing to a malformation of the spine. This left him unusually short, even by eighteenth-century standards. Over time this malformation grew worse, ultimately affecting even his breathing.