Science History

10 Discoveries that have Changed History

10-Discoveries-that-have-Changed-the-History

Imagine if some of these discoveries and inventions had never happened. Here we look at some some discoveries that have not only changed history but our way of life as well (not in any particular order).

Alien-Life

Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist who once worked for NASA, discovered microfossils in meteorites. He went on to publish about his discovery from which he concluded that there was an extraterrestrial life found in these meteorites. However, NASA officially began to disassociate itself from Hoover’s claims, which sparked a lot of controversy. Although he’s not with NASA anymore, Hoover still carries on with his research. He is totally convinced that life is not just restricted to Earth based on his study of these meteorite fossils. So in other words, alien life exists?

Australopithecus

Although Australian anthropologist Raymond Dart is claimed to have first discovered the Australopithecus, the truth is that it was first found by an unknown South African. Dart “merely” conducted a further study on the Australopithecus, but his contribution of course cannot be disregarded. Found in the lime quarry in Taung, South Africa, the fossil belonged to a three-year-old primate which had some humanoid features. It was then concluded that the Australopithecus was indeed humanity’s first known ancestor.

DNA-Double-Helix

Swiss physician and biologist Friedrich Miescher was the first to isolate chemicals which he first called nuclein (which is now called nucleic acid), due to the fact that it lives in the nuclei of a cell.

In his quest to decode the building blocks of life, he opted for the white blood cells as his source material. First, he studied the proteins in these cells. However, during his research there was something that caught Miescher’s attention — a certain substance whose properties weren’t compatible with those of the proteins. Then he isolated the substance in question and further studied its properties and structure. Miescher eventually concluded that the substance was basically different from proteins. Because of its occurrence in the nuclei of the cells, he first called it nuclein, which is now nucleic acid in DNA.

Miescher’s breakthrough discovery made it possible to undestand how organisms transfer their genes to other organisms, and how the structure of the cells are governed.

Electricity

Nowadays we often take electricity for granted. But imagine our life without it. So we should be forever indebted to English scientist Michael Farraday and his breakhrough and life-changing discovery. Faraday is best known for his discoveries of electromagnetic induction and the laws of electrolysis. From his diligent research, he invented the world’s first generator, which was the precursor of the huge generators that produce electricity.

Fingerprints

Fingerprints are the most unique thing that every individual has. Even identical twins have otherwise different fingerprints. The discovery of the fingerprint was a major turnaround in conducting investigations of crimes.

In 1823, Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purkinje was the first to notice how fingerprints were different from one individual to another. Later in this same century English officer Sir William James also noticed how unique our fingerprints are, and applied them to the practical purposes of identification. Little did both men realize that fingerprinting was also a valuable clue to solving crimes until English scientists Francis Galton and Edward Henry began to use them as an effective form of police evidence.

Gravity

This is probably the most famous discovery of English physicist Isaac Newton, among his other discoveries. In 1664 he noticed and observed that gravity is the force that draws objects towards each other. This explains why things fall down and why the planets orbit around the Sun.

Oxygen

Three scientists made separate and independent discoveries of oxygen during the 18th century. Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first to discover it in 1772. He referred to it as a “fire air” because it aids in combustion. In 1774  English scientist Joseph Priestly also discovered oxygen, which he first referred it as “dephlogisticated air.” French scientist Antoine Lavoisier also made the same discovery in 1775.

Penicillin

The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was purely accidental. In a quest to find ways to kill bacteria, he was doing research on a strain of bacteria, staphylococci. Before taking his day off for a holiday in 1928, Fleming made a couple of mistakes: he forgot to put all of his glass dishes in bleach to sterilize them, and also left his laboratory with his windows open.

Upon returning from his vacation, he saw that all of his dishes were full of mold. Before he went to clean them all up, someting caught his attention. Although his plates had lots of bacteria, he noticed a clear area that surrounded the fungal mold, which meant that no bacteria was growing. This was an indication that something had killed the bacteria. Immediately he went on to do more research on the mold, Penicillium notatum, and tried to obtain an extract from the mold, which he called penicillin. But he couldn’t get much of the penicillin from the mold. Furthermore, the penicillin couldn’t last that long so Fleming wasn’t able to prove that it would be an answer to destroying bacteria. He finally gave it up.

It wasn’t until 1945 when other scientists were finally able to establish that penicillin actually kills bacteria. Furthermore, they also proved that it could be produced on a larger scale. We should be indebted to Alexander Fleming for even an accidental discovery which dramatically transformed the way doctors treat bacterial infections forever.

Rosetta-Stone

The Rosetta Stone, a granodiorite stele (slab), was discovered by French soldier Pierre-Francois Bouchard in the midst of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign in 1799.

The Rosetta Stone is divided into three scripts — the upper section contains ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle consists of Demotic script, and the bottom section contains ancient Greek script. All three different scripts present basically the same text, which is a decree issued on behalf of King Ptolemy III.

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone is important because it provided the key to decipher the hieroglyphs and therefore paved the way for studying and interpreting the ancient Egyptian language. Before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, and its eventual decoding, people had no way of understanding the ancient Egyptian language. It also paved the way to discover the real history of ancient Egypt, and that it was not at all a myth as previously thought.

The-Earth-is-Round

Many of the great thinkers of the ancient times thought about whether the earth is flat or round. Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato and Erastothenes were among those people who believed that the earth is round. Although Christopher Columbus was also rumored to have discovered that the earth was round, it is otherwise just that — a rumor. However, Islamic scholars, as well as Chinese and Indian astronomers, also shared the same belief that the earth is round.

All those centuries of theories, guesswork and debate had ended for good when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan traveled the world without falling off the edges of the ocean. Have you flown or sailed from pole to pole without ever meeting that edge, right? So yes, the earth is not flat at all!

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