10 Discoveries that have Changed History

Here’s a look at some discoveries that have changed the world. It’s nearly impossible to rank their importance though.


10. Australopithecus

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Discovered by: An unknown South African

This is known to be the very fist human to exist. The skull was actually discovered by an unknown South African but further investigations were made by Raymond Dart. The fossil was recorded to be 3.7 million years ago. The brains of most species of Australopithecus were roughly 35% of the size of that of a modern human brain. Most species of Australopithecus were diminutive and gracile, usually standing no more than 1.2 and 1.4 m (approx. 4 to 4.5 feet) tall. Actually, the skull found by the South African native was thought be the skull of an ape, but after seeing that the spinal column was connected below the skull and not at the back, it was later concluded that it should be a skull of a man and not of an ape.


9. Penicillin

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Discovered by: Alexander Fleming

Everybody knows the story – or at least, should – the brilliant yet notoriously absent-minded biologist Sir Alexander Fleming was researching a strain of bacteria called staphylococci. Upon returning from holiday one time in 1928, he noticed that one of the glass culture dishes he had accidentally left out had become contaminated with a fungus, and so threw it away. It wasn’t until later that he noticed that the staphylococcus bacteria seemed unable to grow in the area surrounding the fungal mould. Fleming didn’t even hold out much hope for his discovery: it wasn’t given much attention when he published his findings the following year, it was difficult to cultivate, and it was slow-acting – it wasn’t until 1945 after further research by several other scientists that penicillin was able to be produced on an industrial scale, changing the way doctors treated bacterial infections forever. Penicillin antibiotics are historically significant because they are the first drugs that were effective against many previously serious diseases such as syphilis and Staphylococcus infections.


8. Oxygen

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Discovered by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele

Oxygen was first discovered by Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. He had discovered it by about 1772. Scheele called the gas “fire air” because it was the only known supporter of combustion, and wrote an account of this discovery in a manuscript he titled Treatise on Air and Fire, which he sent to his publisher in 1775. However, that document was not published until 1777. Meanwhille, oxygen was also identified by Joseph Priestly in 1774. Priestly discovered a colourless gas from heated red mercuric oxide. He found this gas was highly combustible. He called it dephlogisticated air. Priestly shared his discovery with the French scientist Antoine Lavoiser. Lavoiser was able to show oxygen supported animal life respiration.


7. Gravity

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Discovered by: Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton, an English mathematician and physicist, is considered the greatest scientist of all time. Among his many discoveries, the most important is probably his law of universal gravitation. In 1664, Newton figured out that gravity is the force that draws objects toward each other. It explained why things fall down and why the planets orbit around the Sun.


6. Fingerprints

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Discovered by: Evangelista Purkinje

The discovery that fingerprints are unique to each individual, are left behind on objects a person touches and can be lifted off those items is nothing short of miraculous. This discovery completely changed the way that law enforcement conducted investigations. In today’s modern age, Jack the Ripper would eventually be caught. Even though it was 1823 when Jan Evangelista Purkinje noticed how unique our fingerprints are, it took some time for law enforcement to figure out ways to use this knowledge. Today, this discovery is used in everyday police work.

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