Top 10 Greatest Discoveries of All Time

The French novelist Marcel Proust once said “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” In this article we will explore Top 10 Greatest Discoveries of All Time  and the new landscapes behind them.

Humanity has evolved for a time of 2 million years from controlling the Fire, first discovery of humanity, through a vast age of discoveries. We can definitely say that without all the discoveries ever, humanity can’t stand on this field of earth with a fine root. Here, we will discuss Top 10 Greatest Discoveries of All Time.

Top 10 Greatest Discoveries of All Time

1. The Sun Is The Center of The Universe and The Earth Rotates Around

Discoverer: Nicholaus Copernicus and the year of discovery: 1520 AD

Nicholaus Copernicus
Nicholaus Copernicus

Nicholaus Copernicus was the first to discover it on the basis of scientific theory and broke the 2000-years old belief of geocentric universe. His model of solar system with some improvements of Kepler is still valid after 450 years.



More than 1500 years ago, Ptolemy told that Earth is the centre of the universe and everything moves around it, even the sun; in great circles and distant stars have their own sphere of space. But as the time flows, the errors of Ptolemy’s model grew more and more evident as epi-circles (small circles) are required to show each planet’s path.

Then a polish mathematician, astronomer brings revolution against his idea. Nicholaus Copernicus used modern technology of sixteenth century to improve the measurements of the model. After hard works of almost 20 years, he discovered that the motion of planets would exactly look like if the earth had moved in the same way of circular paths. And in that way, the distance of the earth and the sun will remain the same. It means Earth and other planets move around the sun. This theory is called Heliocentric theory.(Heliocentric = having the sun in its centre) 

But, Nicholaus Copernicus could not release his findings below the power of the Catholic Church in his lifetime. The findings were made public in 1543 after his death but they were rejected scornfully.

Later, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei proved him right. Galileo discovered four moons of Jupiter and Kepler calculated that Mars rotates the sun in elliptical orbit.

2. The Cell Is The Basic Building Block of All Living Things

Discoverer: Robert Hooke and the year of discovery: 1665 AD

Robert Hooke
Robert Hooke

Today we know that Cell is the basic building block of every living thing in the world. So, when it was discovered, it brought a new sight to the biologists to understand living organisms better.



Microscopes were invented in the late 1600s having the ability to magnify objects 100 times of normal size. By 1662, English scientist and architect, Robert Hooke discovered an improved microscope to the power of 300. With this microscope, he had studied the microscopic world as a staff of Royal Society and recorded them in his book “Micrographia”. In 1664, he was studying a thin sheet of dried cork and found its composition with tightly packed rectangular holes. He called them Cell. He predicted that a living cell had been filled with fluid. All these studies were made by him in search of living things’ evolution. For this invention, He is called ‘England’s Leonardo’.

His other discoveries

• He was first to build Gregorian Reflecting Telescope.
• In 1664, he found the fifth star in the Trapezium in the Constellation Orion.
• He calculated that Jupiter rotates on its axis.
• He explained the concept of Diffraction of light in 1672.
• He stated inverse square law to explain planetary motion in the year of 1678, which helped Isaac Newton later.


3. Universal Gravitation

Inventor: Sir Isaac Newton and the year of invention: 1666


Sir Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton



There are four fundamental forces in physics: Strong Nuclear Interaction, Electromagnetic Force, Weak Nuclear Interaction and Gravitational Force (in descending order of strength). Gravity is a force of attraction of any two particles or bodies. It exists everywhere in the universe. In mathematical formula

Law Of Universal Gravitation


Unlike resistance, friction; Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Gravity opens a new portal of forces, which is one of the most used theories in science. Even it’s one of the major key factors to understand black hole’s behaviour.


Renowned Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Philosopher Sir Isaac Newton at his age of 23, became a junior fellow at Trinity College observed that why the moon circles around the earth but does not fall into it, and the same for the earth and the sun. Then one day he found an apple falling from an apple tree. He was thinking about the difference between the apple and the moon. Then, through watching a swinging ball having a string, he found out about gravitational force and three laws of motion. The earth’s gravity and the motion of the moon keep the moon from falling into the earth. And the gravity of the earth attracts the apple to it.

His other discoveries

• Alchemy’s legendary Philosopher’s Stone
• Calculus (Mathematics)
• Refraction of Light
• Reflecting Telescope or Newtonian Telescope
• Colour Spectrum

4. Bacteria

Inventor: Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek and the year of invention: 1680

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek

Bacteria are singled celled organism. It can live in almost every environment. Bacterium is a type of prokaryotic cell and it does not have a membrane guarded nucleus.


Leeuwenhoek brought everyone’s attention to microscopic organisms that anyone could not have imagined exist. And it was discovered around 200 years before building a better microscope. He is called the Father of Microbiology.


Without getting proper schooling, he was interested in mathematics. After Christian Huygens and Robert Hooke, he had built 270-power microscope by 1673, using which one day he discovered microscopic protozoa (bacteria) in every water drop. He was the first to claim that bacteria cause infection and disease.

His other discoveries

• Infusoria (protists in modern zoological classification) (1674)
• The vacuole of the cell
• Spermatozoa (1677)
• The banded pattern of muscular fibres (1682)


5. Oxygen

Discoverer: Joseph Priestley and the year of discovery: 1774

Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley

Oxygen is the first gaseous element to be isolated from air and identified as a unique element. He also concluded that burning is a chemical reaction process of conversion of matter into energy.


Due to church duties, Reverend Joseph Priestley got interested in analyzing of one of the four traditional elements, Air (others are fire, water and earth). He found that previous scientist have described new gases that released from chemical reactions as wild gases. He decided to start with burning murcurus calcinatus and got succeeded to capture oxygen in three jars. He tested them on some mice. And he named it Oxygen (pure air).

But, it is also claimed that Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele invented oxygen by 1771 using mercuric oxide. He called it Fire Air.

6. Atom

Discoverer – John Dalton and the year of discovery 1802

John Dalton
John Dalton

An atom is the smallest particle that exists in every chemical element. It consists of three particles – Proton, Neutron and Electron. Proton(s) and Neutron(s) live in a nucleus and the nucleus is being rotated by electron(s).Proton and Neutron both are called Nucleons. Neutrons have no charge, Protons are positively and Electrons are negatively charged. So, an atom may be positively or negatively charged, then it is called ion. The number of protons and neutrons is called Atomic Number.


Nobody could see an atom until electron microscope was invented in 1938. It was John Dalton who marked a milestone to a turning point for science. His finding brought revolution in the field of Physics and Chemistry.


In 500 BC, Leucippus of Miletus and Democritus of Abdera coined the term ‘atom’ for smallest particle. Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton used the term with same meaning. Robert Boyle and Antoine Lavoisier were first to use the term ‘element’ for newly created substances.

John Dalton brought light on this theory. He then already presented papers to Philosophical Society on barometer, hygrometer, thermometer, evaporation, dew point, etc. By his time, 50 chemical elements have been discovered. He started studying about chemical reactions and comparing the weight, structure of atoms. He concluded that all atoms of any element are the same and they have a fixed number of elements.

Discoveries on the basis of atom

• Kinetic theory of gases
• Brownian Motion – Robert Brown – 1827
• Electron – Sir Joseph John Thompson – 1897
• Nucleus – Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden
• Isotope – Frederick Soddy – 1913
• Bohr Model – Niels Bohr – 1913
• Chemical Bonding – Gilbert Newton Lewis – 1916
• Quantum Physics
• Neutron – James Chadwick – 1932
• Fission
• Fusion
• Condensed Matter


7. Radioactivity

Discoverer: Marie Curie and the year of discovery: 1901

Pierrie and Marie Curie
Pierrie and Marie Curie

Atoms have smaller particles. An unstable nucleus decays spontaneously for having a stable condition and smaller particles (alpha, beta, gamma, neutrino) release from that unstable condition. This process runs until a stable nuclide is generated. This is called Radioactivity. The rate of decaying of a radioactive element is called its Half-Life. And the newly generated isotope is daughter isotope and it is being generated from a parent isotope.


Marie’s research has been carried out before acknowledging the danger of radioactivity. She carried on subatomic research and tried to the splitting of an atom. She claimed that atoms are not solid balls but group of smaller particles. Her sickness, collected while experimenting on radioactivity, suffered her whole adult life.


Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie has decided to complete her doctorate in a new field of Radioactivity in the year of 1896. She used her husband Pierre Curie’s Electrometer that can detect electrical charge of any mineral. As they have shortage of money to continue her research and the University refused to fund for a woman, she arranged a free space to accommodate a laboratory. In 1898, she got pitchblende (uranium mineral), which gave her much better reading on the device. In the next six months, they isolated 78 known chemical elements and tested the nature of radioactivity. By 1901, Pitchblende opens up its secret – Polonium and Radium.

She and Pierre got the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 for discovering radioactivity and in chemistry in 1911 for finding Polonium and Radium. She’s the first woman to get this prize and among those four persons who got Nobel Prize twice. Becoming Director of Red Cross, she developed radiography units at hospitals and at mobile vans. But her work killed her by 1934 giving her a lifelong sickness.

8. Penicillin

Discoverer:Alexander Fleming and the year of discovery:1928

Alexander Fleming
Alexander Fleming

It is not only the first antibiotic medicine commercially available but also the only medicine that saved millions of lives during World War II. It is a group of antibiotics extracted from Penicillium notatum.



Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming was working on wound infections and lysozymes. In the year of 1928, he was experimenting on streptococci, staphylococci, pneumococci bacteria. On the day of Sept. 28, he found that staphylococci bacteria got ruined by a green mold. He isolated the green mold but could not save the bacteria. Later he found that green mold on other bacteria and got the very same result. And then he identified it as extraction from Penicillium notatum; he named the drug Penicillin. In 1929, he announced it publicly.

He was awarded with the prestigious Nobel Prize along with Australian pathologist Howard Walter Florey and German-born British biochemist Ernst Boris Chain, both isolated and purified penicillin, in 1945.


9. X-ray

Discoverer: Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen and the year of discovery: 1895

Wilhelm Röntgen
Wilhelm Röntgen

It is also known as Roentgen Radiation. X-ray is a high-frequency radiation that has wavelength of 10 picometres to 10 nanometres and having frequency of 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz, i.e. shorter than UV rays and longer than gamma rays. It has some energy or radioactivity in the range of 124 eV to 124 keV.


It is the first most powerful life-saving tool ever invented. X-ray can penetrate through human flesh. It has been used to cure pneumonia, dental problem, vascular calcification, blood vessel blockage, asthma, etc. Today, X-ray is being used in the field of medical science through

• Projectional Radiographs – two dimensional image using x-ray. It is used to see if there is any damage to the skeleton of our body.
• Computed Tomography – we also know it as CT scanning. With it, we can build computed 3-D image inside the body for severe medical attention.
• Fluoroscopy – this technique helps us to watch real-time moving images of internal body.
• Radiotherapy – Here, higher frequency of x-ray is used, mainly to treat cancer.
• Mamography – to cure breast cancer.

It is being vastly used in x-ray spectromicroscopy, x-ray fluorescence, x-ray crystallography, x-ray fine art photography, Roentgen stereophotogrammetry, x-ray photo-electron spectroscopy, etc. But it has some negative effects in our life i.e. as x-ray has mild radioactivity, there is a chance of causing cancer in our body or skin burn or cataract in our eyes. But, a pregnant woman has the minimal chance to get the adverse effects of x-rays.


German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen had interest in physics and x-ray astronomy. On November 8th of 1895, Roentgen noticed a black paper wrapped photographic plate got printed at dark table drawer with print of key kept just in upper drawer. But there was a Crook’s tube which was invisible on that plate. Other scientist said that was happened due to some rays from that tube and named those rays Cathode Rays after one of the cathodes of Crook’s tube. Later, this theory got exempted. At last, Roentgen was able discover these cathode rays. He named Mysterious Rays or X-Rays that can pass most of the metals but lead. He also took print of his hand on a fluorescent paper. This discovery earned himself the Nobel prize in 1901.

10. Virus

Discoverer:Dmitri Ivanovsky, Martinus Beijarinick and the year of discovery:1898

Dmitri Ivanovsky
Dmitri Ivanovsky

It is a microorganism with a size of 1/1000th of the smallest bacterium. Some believes viruses have been evolved from plasmids and others say they evolved from bacteria. Virion (singular of virus) has nucleic acid like DNA or RNA, lipid and capsid, a protective protein coat. They are acellular and don’t have cytoplasm. It cannot reproduce outside the host. They can infect any organism even eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Latest study says that there are at least 3,20,000 different viruses that can harm mammals.


French microbiologist Louis Pasteur discovered microscopic bacteria cause fermentation and the process of eliminating bacteria from liquid called Pasteurization. But he never found the reason of rabies.

In 1892, Dmitri Ivanovsky was working on tobacco mosaic disease that was not being controlled. He then tried to pass the mashed up leave through various types of filters to trap all even the bacteria. And he found out that he was unable to cage it. He believed that bacteria are the smallest thing ever and dismissed his own works.

In 1898, a Dutch botanist Martinus Beijernick tried to brush up Ivanovsky’s experiment and concluded that he could not stop it with any modern filter of that time. He accepted its existence and named it Virus (Latin; means poison).

German scientist Friedrich Loeffler and American Doctor Walter Reed faced the same results at finding the cause of foot and mouth disease and yellow fever, respectively. At last, Walter Reed got succeeded while testing mosquito-borne diseases.


Know the Difference Between Discovery and Invention

Discovery can be defined as the act of finding or exploring something new that has not been found or known before. And the act of creation or designing of an subject or a service that has not been found before is defined as an invention.

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