The 20th century saw a host of scientific advances that have revolutionised their fields. however, the most important ones did something more – they benefited mankind as a whole and changed not just science, but society. Here are 5 of the most influential:
1) Structure of the Atom
The idea of the atom as a central nucleus surrounded by electrons arose after a series of experiments at the very start of the 20th century. This discovery paved the way for an understanding of the periodic table, material science and the general behaviour of the matter we see around us. without it, many of the materials which our society is based around might never have been invented or would be impossible to fabricate.
2) the Rise of Environmental Science
Climate change is one of the big challenges facing the world with possibly catastrophic consequences over the next century. the realisation of this in the second half of the 20th century has slowly caused an environmental revolution and may prove to be one of mankind’s most critical turning points.
3) the Structure of DNA
The DNA double helix was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. With it came a knowledge of how all living organisms function and how they have all evolved, direct proof of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Biology has never been the same since and advances in genetics and medicine (to name a few) have followed rapidly.
4) the Transistor
Few advances have changed our world quite like the transistor, a type of semiconductor that can change electronic signals that are input into it. With it came all the modern electronics that we now take for granted. Transistors can form part of an integrated circuit which are the corner stone of devices like personal computers, calculators and mobile phones.
The last of the five discoveries is that of antibiotics. In 1928, Alexander Flemming discovered Penicillin, a substance produced by a fungus that appeared to kill off bacteria. He later shared the Nobel Prize with the two scientists who pioneered a method of mass producing the drug which saved thousands of lives in the second World War and many more ever since. Increasing resistance of rapidly-evolving bacteria has forced scientists to continuously develop new types of antibiotics in a never-ending fight against infection.
Many other discoveries have had a huge impact on the way we are able to live in the 21st century and continue to be developed today.