Scientific Events that Most Changed the World—Survey Response by Dr. Seth Shostak
In your opinion, what are the five scientific events that changed the world the most?
1. Publication of “Principia” by Isaac Newton
2. Copernicus publishes his work establishing the solar-centric cosmos
3. Neils Bohr proposes quantized states for the hydrogen atom
4. Albert Einstein publishes his work on Special Relativity
5. Darwin publishes “On the Origin of Species”
When Newton published his work on (classical) mechanics, he did two things of enormous importance: (1) he provided the analytic tools for analyzing and predicting the behavior of essentially all mechanical systems, from celestial to domestic, and (2) by so doing, he built the foundation of modern science, which seeks natural explanations for phenomena, and quantizes these explanations so that they have predictive power. This latter ability is what sets science apart from other endeavors — it not only tells you how something works, but will allow you to design something entirely new with confidence about how it WILL work.