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On this page and throughout the rest of this website, we will be discussing a number of scientific and technological issues across a broad spectrum of fields, including medicine, technology and education.
Below, we’ve summarized some of the most significant scientific developments the world has seen over the past 100 years. Please feel free to browse through the rest of Arst.ch where you can find bite-sized, factual information on more specific scientific developments including those relating to gambling, education and medicine.
The most significant scientific developments over the last 100 years
Believe it or not, most of the latest technology in use today – such as your new iPhone, car and high-speed internet connection – has its origins dating back to the mid-20th century, with many technological innovations (particularly those relating to travel, power, agriculture and infrastructure) dating back well before then.
Below, we look at just a handful of the most important scientific developments to happen over the last 100 years.
Television – early 20th century
The first ever television, the ‘octagon’, was comprised of mechanically rotating discs displaying different images across a three-inch screen. The innovation soon adopted pixel-based technology and became commercially available in the late 1930s.
Fuel powered rockets – 1920s
While the concept of rockets dates all the way back to 13th century China (where a form of gunpowder was used), the advancement of fuel-powered rockets didn’t happen until the end of the 1920s. This scientific milestone soon led to government organizations investing billions in rockets for the purposes of space exploration and satellite launches.
Credited as the first antibiotic, Penicillin was first discovered in the late 1920s by Alexander Fleming. After initial testing, it was then used by doctors to treat infections in the early 1940s, particularly in war zones. Other enhanced penicillin families that have been developed to fight against different strains of bacteria include aminopenicillins, antistaphylococcal penicillins and antipseudomonal penicillin.
Nuclear fission – late 1930s
Nuclear fission – aka the splitting of the atom (or to be more technical, a ‘nuclear reaction’ that happens when a heavy nucleus of a single atom spontaneously splits when coming into contact with another particle, thus releasing an enormous amount of energy) was first conducted in the 1930s. This discovery quickly led to the development of the atomic bomb, as well as nuclear fission energy as a source of power.
The Internet – 1960s
The core concept of the internet dates back to the late 1950s and early 60s, but it wasn’t until a decade later with the development of personal computers that ‘networks of networks’ were first established, which was then developed into the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee, which is the basis of the internet we know today.
The PC – 1970s
The very concept of a ‘computer’ – i.e. a machine that is able to process binary code, dates all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. However, these early machines often took up whole factories and were only capable of processing basic codes and numbers (in the same way a pocket calculator or smartphone can do today). The first personal computer (PC) was developed by Ed Roberts (the Altair 8800) with Microsoft and IBM quickly developing his version throughout the 80s.
The mobile phone – 1970s
The first ever mobile phone (‘mobile’ is a loose term considering its size back then) was developed by Motorola. In a sense, this was simply an advancement of already-existing communications technology, which used a wireless transmission rather than telephone wires.