If electricity makes life easier for us, you can thank Michael Faraday. He made two big discoveries that changed our lives. In 1821, he discovered that when a wire carrying an electric current is placed next to a single magnetic pole, the wire will rotate. This led to the development of the electric motor. Ten years later, he became the first person to produce an electric current by moving a wire through a magnetic field. Faraday’s experiment created the first generator, the forerunner of the huge generators that produce our electricity.
4. Alien Life
NASA’s paper, along with pictures of the microscopic earthworm-like creatures, were published in Feburary,2011 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology. A NASA Scientist Richard Hoover opened fragments of several types of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, which can contain relatively high levels of water and organic materials, and looked inside with a powerful microscope. He found bacteria-like creatures that he calls “indigenous fossils,” which he believes originated beyond Earth and were not introduced here after the meteorites landed. “He concludes these fossilized bacteria are not Earthly contaminants but are the fossilized remains of living organisms which lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies,” said the study. “The implications are that life is everywhere, and that life on Earth may have come from other planets.” The journal’s editor in chief, Rudy Schild of the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard-Smithsonian, said Hoover is a “highly respected scientist and astrobiologist with a prestigious record of accomplishment at NASA.” Earlier in december 2010 NASA began to tease us with tantalizing hints regarding the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft– which is currently sending back massive amounts of data from Saturn—had confirmed the existence of microscopic life on Saturn’s moon Rhea. Well then that would be the first example of extra-terrestrial life. That study drew plenty of criticism, particularly after NASA touted the announcement as evidence of extraterrestrial life. Scientists are currently attempting to replicate those findings. (Link)
3. DNA Double Helix
The discovery of the DNA was made by the Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher. It was first called as a “nuclein” because it resides in the nuclei of a cell. This reconstruction of the first ever model of the DNA molecule contains some of the original parts used by Crick and Watson in 1953. Their breakthrough made it possible to finally understand both how organisms pass on their genes, and how the workings of cells are governed. This now-familiar structure is still at the heart of huge scientific endeavours.
And with genome sequencing becoming ever cheaper, we’re only going to become more familiar with it.
2. Rosetta Stone
On Napoleon’s 1798 campaign in Egypt, the expeditionary army was accompanied by a corps of 167 technical experts. In mid-July 1799, as French soldiers under the command of Colonel d’Hautpoul were strengthening the defences of Fort Julien, a couple of miles north-east of the Egyptian port city of Rashid, Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard spotted a slab with inscriptions on one side that the soldiers had uncovered. He and d’Hautpoul saw at once that it might be important and informed general Jacques-François Menou, who happened to be at Rosetta. This exciting discovery in 1799 was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs and unlocking the history of the ancient world texts. Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its eventual decipherment, there had been no understanding of the Ancient Egyptian language. It provides a window into the real history of Egypt rather than an imaginary one; all other decipherings of ancient languages since the Rosetta Stone’s initial decoding in 1822 are based on its precedents.
1. The Earth is Round
So, yes, the earth isn’t flat. But seriously, would you ever have guessed that all by yourself? It’s not like people on the other side of the world are walking upside down. And no, Columbus didn’t discover this fact; he was too busy infesting the natives with smallpox. Duh! So how did this little smidgen of science know-how change the course of humankind? Because no longer did people think that their boats would fall off the edges of the ocean. Trade routes opened up to capitolism and horrible 80’s B flicks like The Gods Must be Crazy. This little fact created a tiny fissure in the assurity of humankind’s all-knowing senses and mastery of the world. Simply put, it made us look like a bunch of asses.