Highlights in the History of Science, Mathematics, and Invention
c. 530 Pythagoras flees to Crotona, a Greek colony in the south of Italy, where he founds a secret society, dedicated to his ideas about number theory.
c. 330 The Hippocratic Collection, an influential medical work written by Hippocrates and his students, is finished.
c. 280 Euclid completes Elements, which compiles and systematizes geometry and sets the organizational standard for later mathematical texts.
c. 240 Eratosthenes, a mathematician, geographer, and librarian at Alexandria, publishes Geography, which gives the first mathematical basis for measuring Earth as a sphere and presents his calculation of Earth’s circumference.
c. 212 Archimedes, an inventor and early pioneer in geometry, uses his cranes and catapults in the Second Punic War, during which he is killed.
c. 105 Ts’ai Lun announces the invention of paper.
c. 161 Galen of Pergamum, one of the leading physician of antiquity, moves to Rome, where he writes treatises that dominate medical thinking until the 1500s.
c. 400 Hypatia, the first woman mathematician, becomes head of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria.
c. 850 Mohammed ibn Musa AlKhwarizmi dies, having introduced Europe to algebra and the Arabic number system.
c . 894 Abu Bakr Muhammad ArRazi begins to study medicine; ArRazi eventually produces Continens, a basic medical text that becomes a standard reference in Middle Eastern and European medical colleges.
c. 1022 Ibn Sina (Avicenna) begins the Canon of Medicine, a standard encyclopedia of medicine until the eighteenth century.
1202 Leonardo Fibonacci publishes Liber Abaci, which introduces Arabic numerals, including zero, to Europe and helps to popularize their use.
c. 1455 Johannes Gutenberg publishes the Gutenberg Bible, introducing moveable type printing, which revolutionizes the distribution of information.
1528 Paracelsus flees the University of Basel and begins to write medical treatises, which challenge medical mysticism and introduce innovative treatments.
1537 Ambroise Paré begins work as an army surgeon, a career which leads him to numerous innovations and the development of surgical techniques.
1542 Leonhard Fuchs publishes The Natural History of Plants, which becomes the standard for botanical studies.
1543 Nicolaus Copernicus’ Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is published; it proposes that the solar system is heliocentric and launches one of the biggest scientific revolutions in history.
1543 Andreas Vesalius publishes The Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body, a comprehensive description of human anatomy.
1546 Georgius Agricola introduces a classification system for minerals in On the Nature of Fossils.
1569 Gerardus Mercator completes a world map using his Mercator projection method, a technique still used in cartography.
1572 Tycho Brahe discovers a new star—later identified as a supernova—in the constellation Cassiopeia; this suggests that the heavens are not static.
161821 Johannes Kepler introduces his three laws of planetary motion in Epitome of Copernican Astronomy.
1620 Francis Bacon introduces new scientific methodology, Which stresses inductive logic and empirical evidence, in Novum Organum.
1627 Johannes Kepler completes the Rudolphine Tables, which are used to calculate the position of planets.
1628 William Harvey publishes An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, which correctly describes the circulation of blood.
1632 Galileo Galilei publishes The Starry Messenger, which supports Copernicus’s heliocentric model for the universe and notes several telescopic discoveries.
1637 René Descartes’s Discourse on Method is published; it establishes the modern approach to mathematics.
1638 Galileo Galilei publishes book on motion and mechanics, which introduces the idea of inertia.
1642 Blaise Pascal devises first digital calculating machine.
1643 Evangelista Torricelli invents barometer.
1648 Blaise Pascal formulates law of fluids and pressure.
1654 Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal establish mathematics of probability.
1656 Christiaan Huygens invents the first accurate pendulum clock.
1661 Robert Boyle postulates particulate matter theory in The Sceptical Chemist, which suggests that all matter comprises smaller components.
1661 Marcello Malpighi discovers capillaries and lung structure.
1665 Pierre de Fermat dies, leaving behind the infamous “Fermat’s last theorem,” for which he claimed to have developed a proof, though never recorded it; the first successful proof for it is developed in 1995.
1665 Robert Hooke publishes Micrographia, a pioneering study of cell biology.
166568 Isaac Newton develops laws of motion and gravitation (published in his Principia in 1687).
1666 Isaac Newton develops the calculus, but does not publish his ideas.
1668 Isaac Newton invents the reflecting telescope.
1674 Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek records discoveries of microorganisms with advanced highquality microscopes that he constructs.
1684 Gottfried Wilhelm Lebniz publishes work that introduces differential and integral calculus; his notation is easier to use than Newton’s, and therefore eventually becomes the dominant version to be used.
1690 Christiaan Huygens publishes his Treatise on Light, which introduces the theory that light moves in waves.
1697 Jakob and Johann Bernoulli work on brachistochrone problem, initiating the calculus of variations.
1705 Edmond Halley correctly predicts the return of the comet now named after him.
1709 Abraham Darby first uses coke to smelt iron, a process which revolutionizes the iron industry.
1712 Thomas Newcomen completes the first practical steam engine.
1741 Leonhard Euler returns to Germany, where he solves numerous algebraic equations, describes transcendental numbers, and introduces standardized mathematical symbols.
1744 Benjamin Franklin invents an efficient stove for heating homes and cooking.
1748 Maria Agnesi publishes Analytical Institutions, a comprehensive math text used by students throughout Europe.
1749 First volumes of Georges Buffon’s Natural History appear, a vastly influential survey of natural history.
1751 Carolus Linnaeus publishes Philosophia Botanica, which introduces binomial nomenclature and revolutionizes taxonomy.
1752 Benjamin Franklin investigates electricity and performs kite experiment, which proves that lightning is an electrical phenomenon and leads to Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod.
1760 Joseph Black defines heat capacity.
1762 John Harrison invents a practical chronometer, which greatly facilitates sea navigation.
1762 Joseph Black discovers latent heat.
1764 James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny, which increases output and productivity in the textile industry.
1765 James Watt designs an improved steam engine.
1774 Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen.
1784 William Herschel determines that nebulae consist of stars.
1787 Antoine Lavoisier publishes Nomenclature, which systematizes the naming of chemical compounds.
1789 Antoine Lavoisier publishes Elementary Treatise of Chemistry, which introduces the law of conservation of mass.
1794 Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, which causes sweeping agricultural reform in the southern United States.
1795 Georges Cuvier joins the Museum of Natural History in Parts, where he pioneers fossil reconstruction and develops an influential classification system for animals.
1795 Joseph Bramah builds a hydraulic press, which inspires other hydraulic technology, including jacks, lifts, and brakes.
1796 Edward Jenner develops a vaccination for smallpox.
1798 Henry Cavendish publishes his calculation of Earth’s gravitational constant
1800 Alessandro Volta develops first electrochemical battery.
1801 Carl Friedrich Gauss publishes Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, a milestone in number theory.
1820s AugustinLouis Cauchy publishes lectures on the calculus and gives the calculus a logically acceptable algebraic foundation.
1821 Friedrich Bessel begins calculating star positions, which lead to the first estimates of the size of the universe.
1824 Friedrich Bessel introduces Bessel functions, which are used in pure mathematics and wave theory, elasticity, hydrodynamics; they are also used to study the movement of heat and electricity in cylinders.
1806 Humphry Davy publishes Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity, which outlines the use of electrolysis.
1808 John Dalton publishes New System of Chemical Philosophy, which introduces modern atomic theory.
1808 JosephLouis GayLussac publishes Law of Combining Volumes, the basis for understanding how molecules form and gases interact.
1810 NicolasFrançois Appert develops a food canning process.
1811 Amedeo Avogadro publishes hypothesis of the number of molecules in equivalent volumes of gases, later called Avogadro’s Law.
1821 Sophie Germain publishes a paper on elasticity; which describes the predictable movement of particles due to vibration.
1822 Caroline Lucretia Herschel completes A Catalogue of the Nebulae, a benchmark for astronomers, which charts some 2,500 nebulae.
1824 Sadi Carnot’s Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire is published; it introduces the heat engine theory and is the starting point for later studies of thermodynamics.
1825 George Stephenson’s Locomotion, the first practical steam locomotive, runs with passengers.
1825 Louis Braille introduces his raiseddot alphabet, allowing the blind to read.
1827 André Ampère introduces Ampère’s law for measuring the flow of electric current.
1827 Robert Brown discovers Brownian motion, which is the constant movement of particles suspended in a solution.
1827 Georg Ohm discovers relationships between current, voltage, and resistance (Ohm’s law).
1828 Friedrich Wöhler synthesizes urea, which reveals the relationship between inorganic and organic chemistry.
183033 Charles Lye’s Principles of Geology is published; it popularizes the principle of uniformitatianism, which states that gradual physical processes shape Earth’s surface features over long periods of time.
1831 Cyrus Hall McCormick invents the mechanical reaper, a vital tool in the agricultural revolution.
1831 Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction and makes the world’s first dynamo, an electric generator driven by magnetism.
1833 Charles Babbage begins to design the Analytical Engine, a predecessor of mechanical calculators.
1834 Mary Fairfax Somerville defines physical science and outlines the relationship between mathematics and science in The Connection of the Physical Sciences.
1834 Alexander von Humboldt begins writing Kosmos, a multivolume work which introduces many ecological concepts, including biome classification, the interconnectedness between organisms, and the danger of human disturbance of nature.
1837 Samuel Morse engineers the singlewire electric telegraph and formulates Morse code the next year.
1839 The first photograph, invented by Louis Daguerre and initially called a “daguerreotype,” is introduced to the public.
1839 Charles Goodyear vulcanizes rubber, strengthening it and making it more useful.
1840 Louis Agassiz publishes his ice age theory, which his wife Elizabeth Cary Agassiz helps popularize after his death in 1873.
1841 Niels Henrik Abel’s paper on transcendental functions is published, introducing Abel’s theorem.
1842 Augusta Ada Lovelace (Countess of), considered the first computer programmer, translates and supplements Luigi Menabrea’s work on the Analytical Engine, providing Howard Aiken ideas for his design of the Mark I (1944).
1846 Elias Howe patents the sewing machine.
1846 William Morton introduces ether as anesthesia in surgery.
1847 George Boole establishes and systematizes symbolic logic in Mathematical Analysis of Logic.
1847 Maria Mitchell discovers the first comet that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
1847 James Prescott Joule first explains the relationship between heat and electricity.
1849 Elizabeth Blackwell graduates from Geneva College; she becomes the first woman to gain a medical degree in the United States.
1851 Rudolf Clausius develops the laws of thermodynamics.
1851 Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) publishes “On the Dynamical Theory of Heat,” which proves mathematically that heat is a form of mechanical motion.
1853 Elizabeth Blackwell opens a dispensary providing medical care for the poor, which becomes a model for other humanitarian medical facilities.
1855 Henry Bessemer develops an inexpensive process of making steel more versatile, later called the “Bessemer process.”
1855 Florence Nightingale introduces sanitary practices to Britain’s military hospital in Scutari, Turkey, during the Crimean War, her innovations reduce the death rate from 42% in 1854 to 2%.
1857 Nightingale completes Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army, which prompts reform in military health care.
1857 August Kekulé von Stradonitz publishes theory of carbon tetravalence, which provides revolutionary insight into molecular structure of organic chemistry.
1859 Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is published, which introduces the principle of natural selection and the theory of evolution.
1859 Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff invent the spectroscope and use spectral analysis to identify chemicals, a technique now integral to chemistry and astrophysics.
1861 Ignaz Semmelweis publishes Etiology, Understanding and Preventing Childbed Fever, a milestone in medical history that outlines the cause of and preventative measures against puerperal fever.
1864 Louis Pasteur introduces pasteurization.
1865 August Kekulé publishes theory of ring structure, which broadens scientific understanding of molecular structure in organic chemistry.
1866 Gregor Johann Mendel publishes Experiments with Plant Hybrid, which introduces the theory and science of genetics.
1867 Christopher Sholes invents the first practical typewriter.
1867 Joseph Lister announces the success of antiseptic surgery, provoking medical reform.
1871 Dmitry Mendeleyev publishes a revised periodic table of chemical elements based upon his original table published two years prior.
1872 Amanda Jones patents a new vacuum canning process.
1873 Luther Burbank introduces an improved potato (known as Burbank or Idaho), the first of over 800 plant varieties he develops.
1873 James Clerk Maxwell outlines electromagnetic theory in Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.
1874 Sonya Kovalevsky receives doctorate from University of Göttingen for her influential work on partial differential equations.
1875 Ludwig Boltzmann publishes paper on statistical method of explaining the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
1876 Robert Koch demonstrates that the disease anthrax comes from bacteria, the first proof that bacteria cause specific diseases.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1876 Nikolaus August Otto introduces a fourstroke engine, the prototype for modern internal combustion engines.
1877 Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
1879 Thomas Edison develops the incandescent light bulb.
1880s Élie Metchnikoff discovers phagocytosis, revealing an important component of immunology.
1881 Clara Barton founds American Association of the Red Cross.
1882 Thomas Edison builds the world’s first power station.
1884 Svante Arrhenius presents electrolytic dissociation theory, which explains the behavior of ions in a solution.
1884 HenriLouis Le Châtelier publishes his principle of chemical equilibrium, which explains how temperature and pressure affect chemical systems.
1886 Julia and Charles Hall discover electrolytic purification of aluminum, which allows aluminum to be manufactured cheaply.
1887 Nikola Tesla designs an alternatingcurrent motor, which reduces electrical transmission problems.
1888 George Eastman introduces the Kodak camera.
1891 Nikola Tesla designs a tranformer (a Tesla coil), which modulates electrical power to make it more useful in a variety of applications—from high voltage machinery to TV sets.
1892 Carrie J. Everson completes development of an ore concentration process, which makes practical the extraction of secondary grade ore.
1893 Rudolf Diesel builds an efficient compressionignition engine, later known as a “diesel” engine.
1893 Daniel Hale Williams performs the first openheart surgery.
1895 Auguste and Louis Lumière’s cinèmatographe projects the first moving picture before an audience.
1895 Wilhelm Roentgen announces the discovery of Xrays.
1895 Henri Poincaré writes Analysis Situ, a pioneering work on topology, which is the study of an objects geometrical properties that do not change as the object is contorted.
1895 Guglielmo Marconi develops the first radio transmitter and receiver.
1896 AntoineHenri Becquerel discovers the spontaneous release of energy from an ore (radioactivity).
1898 Marie Curie isolates and purifies two elements, polonium and radium, while continuing Becquerel’s work on radioactivity, a term she coins.
1899 Harriet Brooks identifies radon as the product of nuclear decay, inspiring Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy to recognize radioactive transmutation.
1899 Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman accepted to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, begins a series of lectures on nutrition, health issues, sanitation, and other factors in the home environment. She calls this field of study home economics; it is later referred to as home ecology.
1900 Sigmund Freud completes The Interpretation of Dreams, which outlines his new psychoanalytic theory.
1900 Karl Landsteiner publishes theory of blood types, which greatly increases the reliability of blood transfusions.
1900 Max Planck publishes the basis for quantum theory in a paper on blackbody radiation.
1901 Jokichi Takamine is the first to isolate a hormone (adrenaline).
1903 Wilbur and Orville Wright pilot the first powered and manned airplane flights.
1905 Albert Einstein publishes major papers on quantum theory (supporting Hanks work), atomic theory, and relativity; introducing the famous equation E=mc2.
1906 William Bateson, having translated, popularized, and elaborated on Mendel’s research, coins the term “genetics.”
1907 Ivan Pavlov publishes Conditioned Reflexes; his theory of conditioned reflexes is the precursor to behavioral psychology.
1908 Henry Ford markets the Model T, a car that makes automobile transportation available to vast numbers of people.
1909 Fritz Haber develops method for synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen.
1910 Paul Ehrlich tests and uses Salvarsan as a cure for syphilis.
191013 Bertrand Russell (with Alfred North Whitehead) publishes Principia Mathematica, which lays the foundation for logicism, the idea that all mathematics is rooted in logic.
1911 Ernest Rutherford (with Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden) discovers the atomic nucleus.
1911 Anna Botsford Comstock publishes The Handbook of Nature Study, which becomes a bestselling guide for nature lovers and naturalists; it offers an introduction to natural cycles and processes.
1912 Garrett Morgan patents the gas mask, which helps to save many lives, especially soldiers in World War I.
1913 Hideyo Noguchi proves link between syphilis and paresis, a major contribution to bacteriology.
1913 The International Astronomical Union adopts Annie Jump Cannon’s system of star classification, which categorizes stars by temperature.
1913 Niels Bohr publishes his theory of atomic structure, which is the foundation of a modern understanding of atomic structure.
1914 George Washington Carver explains the importance of crop rotation to farmers in the southern United States.
1915 Alfred Lothar Wegener publishes The Origins of Continents and Oceans, which introduces the principle of continental drift
1915 Ernest Everett Just shows how the developmental orientation of the fertilized egg is established, the first of his many discoveries in developmental biology.
1915 Albert Einstein publishes the general theory of relativity; revolutionizing the modern understanding of space and time.
1921 Emmy Noether publishes “General Theory of Ideals,” an important work in abstract algebra that introduces a technique now fundamental to commutative algebra.
1921 Vilhelm Bjerknes publishes On the Dynamics of the Circular Vortex with Applications to the Atmosphere and Atmospheric Vortex and Wave Motion, which explains the characteristics of air masses.
1922 Garrett Morgan patents the traffic signal, helping to improve the safety of increasingly busy city roads throughout the United States.
1924 Satyendranath Bose sends his paper on quantum theory to Albert Einstein; the work strengthens quantum theory and introduces BoseEinstein Statistics, which describe the behavior of the subatomic particles now known as “bosons.”
1925 Werner Heisenberg develops matrix mechanics, a milestone in quantum theory that mathematically predicts the properties of atoms and simple molecules.
1926 Max Born introduces the probability interpretation, providing the foundation for Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics.
1926 Robert H. Goddard launches the first liquidfueled rocket.
1927 Neils Bohr presents the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics.
1927 Werner Heisenberg develops the Uncertainty Principle, which explains that observation of subatomic particles disturbs them and therefore introduces error into measurements and calculations at the subatomic level.
1928 Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa is published; it introduces cultural anthropology and the theory of cultural determinism, which suggests that a culture influences the development of personality.
1928 Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman discovers the Raman effect, which describes how matter diffracts light and changes its frequency and color.
1928 Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
1929 Edwin Hubble formulates a law concerning the expansion of the universe, a milestone for cosmology, which helps scientists to calculate the age and size of the universe.
1931 Barbara McClintock (with Harriet Creighton) publishes a paper demonstrating how chromosomes cross over and exchange genetic information.
1932 James Chadwick discovers the neutron.
1934 Otto Hahn, Else Meitner, and Fritz Strassmann begin investigations which lead to the discovery of fission.
1935 Percy Lavon Julian synthesizes physostigmine, which is effective treatment for glaucoma.
1935 Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
1935 Robert WatsonWatt develops the first radar system.
1937 Hideki Yukawa refines his meson theory, which describes pimesons and mumesons, previously undiscovered subatomic particles.
1939 In The Nature of the Chemical Bond, Linus Pauling uses quantum theory to explain chemical bonds in terms of hybridization, bond character, and resonance theory.
1939 Igor Sikorsky completes the first singlerotor helicopter.
1939 Charles Drew develops bloodplasma preservation methods, expanding the opportunities to perform lifesaving transfusions.
1939 Lise Meitner announces the discovery of fission, the splitting of an atomic nucleus, which produces an enormous amount of energy and is applied to nuclear weapons.
1942 Enrico Fermi builds the first nuclear reactor and, in so doing, achieves the first sustainable nuclear (fission) chain reaction.
1943 JacquesYves Cousteau codevelops the AquaLung, the first of his several technological developments that assist divers and oceanographers.
1944 John von Neumann publishes Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, a work that applies game theory to economic theory.
1944 John von Neumann joins the team to build EDVAC; he plans the computers logical organization, which influences the design of later computers.
1944 Howard Hathaway Aiken completes the Mark I, the first fullscale programmable computer in the United States.
1945 The Manhattan Project, under J. Robert Oppenheimer’s leadership, produces the world’s first nuclear weapons.
1947 Georg von Békésy builds a cochlear model, with which he determines the physical mechanism of hearing.
1948 John Bardeen (with Walter Brattain and William Shockley) invents the transistor, a device which translates alternate current to direct current and amplifies it.
1948 Andrey Sakharov begins research leading to the development of the Soviet hydrogen bomb.
1951 Rosalind Franklin begins Xray diffraction of DNA, contributing data vital to the determination of DNA’s structure.
1952 Grace Murray Hopper develops the first compiler, software that translates higherlevel programmed instructions to machinelevel code.
1953 Francis Crick and James Watson describe the doublehelical structure of DNA.
1954 Gregory Pincus (with MinChueh Chang) develops and tests the first oral contraceptive, now known as “The Pill.”
1955 John von Neumann proves the equivalence of wave mechanics and matrix mechanics, two models of quantum theory.
1957 John Bardeen (with Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer) formulates a theory of superconductivity, the phenomenon in which some metals exhibit zero resistance to the flow of electrons at temperatures close to absolute zero.
1957 ChienShiung Wu proves the nonconservation of parity, undermining the notion that all nuclear reactions emit particles in all directions equally.
1959 Rosalyn Yalow and Solomon Berson develop radioimmunoassay, a technique for identifying and quantifying the presence of biological and chemical substances in the body.
1962 Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is published; it raises national awareness of the effects of pesticide pollution.
1962 Harry Hammond Hess publishes “History of Ocean Basins,” which introduces his theory of plate tectonics, the first comprehensive explanation of mountain building, continental drift, and seafloor spreading.
1963 Norman Ernest Borlaug begins work in India and Pakistan, where his agricultural reforms ameliorate famine and help to launch the Green Revolution.
1963 Murray GellMann develops the quark model, a major breakthrough in understanding subatomic structure.
1964 Jane Cooke Wright, an innovative cancer researcher, serves on the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke, which leads to the development of a nationwide network of cancertreatment centers.
1965 Richard P. Feynman shares a Nobel Prize for Physics for his theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), which explains the interaction between particles and electromagnetic radiation in terms of quantum theory.
1968 The television program, Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, begins; it is one of Cousteau’s many efforts to educate the public about the beauty and fragility of marine life.
1973 Stephen Hawking writes (with G. E R. Ellis) The Large Scale Structure of SpaceTime, which provides mathematical support for the Big Bang and black hole theories.
1975 Bertram FraserReid publishes a report on his successful efforts to synthesize noncarbohydrate compounds from simple carbohydrates (sugars).
1978 Barbara McClintock’s paper, which challenges the WatsonCrick model by proposing gene reorganization mechanisms, gets international attention.
1978 Mary Leakey’s team finds 3.65 millionyearold footprints of upright walking hominids, one of her many important paleoanthropological discoveries.
1980 Bill Gates designs MSDOS, which becomes the standardized operating system for personal computers.
1986 Jane Goodall publishes The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Parterns of Behavior, which summarizes her observations on chimpanzees; her research methods are a model for longterm ethological study.
1988 Bertram FraserReid patents process to synthesize oligosaccharides, complex carbohydrates found in human cell membranes and viruses.
1990 Bill Gates’s company Microsoft introduces its graphical operating system Windows.