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History of Science Timeline The Ancients 585 bc thales

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History of Science Timeline

The Ancients

585 BC - Thales was the founder of Greek science who predicted a solar eclipse. He stated that water was the primordial substance and the origin for all matter.

580 BC – Pythagoras stated that the earth is round and that planets orbit in circles.

546 BC – Anaximander was an early astronomer who thought that the stars where fixed on a sphere that rotated around the earth and that the earth was the center of the universe.

494 BC – Anaximenes was another ancient astronomer who was able to find differences between planets and stars and explain the rainbow. He believed that the main substance in the universe was air, which could form other elements by rarefaction and condensation.

427 BC – Plato states that all celestial bodies moved around the earth in circular orbits.

425 BC – Herodotus wrote first historical account of the events in the field of science.

388 BC – Heraklides proposed that the earth rotates on an axis every 24 hours.

370 BC – Hippocrates wrote more than 50 medical books and a system of methods for physicians to follow. He believed that medicine should be practiced and believed in observations from exams and deductive reasoning to diagnose illnesses.

322 BC – Aristotle studied the natural world (biology) and created a taxonomic key to identify living and non-living things (plants not included). The order of living and non-living things gave top tier recognition to God, then progressed downward to man, mammals, birds, fish, insects, plants, and non-living matter. In the 12th and 13th centuries AD, his ideas were accepted as truths.

287 BC – Theophratus followed Aristotle and studied plants (botany) and rocks.

240 BC – Eratosthenes determined the circumference of the earth using shadows.

212 BC – Archimedes made many contributions to the field of science. He gave the world the law of the lever, the principles of buoyancy, the Archimedean water screw, weapons for defense, and insight into engineering and hydrostatics.

134 BC – Hipparchus created a map of the stars, which was the first of its kind.

55 BC – Lucretius’ book On the Nature of Things stated that all things were composed of atoms. He used poetry as a tool to express his philosophical ideas and believed that science should not be based on the belief of the supernatural because events can be explained rationally.

45 BC – Julian calendar introduced, which said that a year consisted of 365.25 days.

140 – Ptolemy believed that in a geocentric system which holds that everything revolves around the earth. He also stated that the planets move on little circles which then move on larger circles as a way to account for the different speeds of rotation.

200 –Galen performed dissections on animals to explain the physiology of humans. He believed in experimentation and observation when practicing medicine.

450-1000 - The Dark Ages of Science where very little new scientific knowledge is obtained.

1000 – Avicenna explained how mountains were formed through earthquakes or by land being divided by running water (erosion). He also wrote a medical book titled Cannon of Medicine which holds that medicines need to be given based on reasoning or experimentation.

1079 – Omar Khayyam determines the length of a year to be 365.24219858156 days.

1200 – Italian medical doctors began wring case histories of there patients to better help future cases.

1266 - Hugh and Theodoric Borgogoni treat wounds with stitches after cleaning with wine. They also use narcotics to put patients to sleep during surgery.

1267 – Roger Bacon used experimentation in the lab to study rainbows. He was one of the first to mention gunpowder which made its way from China in the middle of the 13th century.

1316 - Mondino de' Luzzi publishes an anatomy book which is used through the 1500’s.

1512 – Nicolaus Copernicus wrote Commentariolus, which presented his heliocentric theory for the motion of the planets. He included the mathematics, cosmology, and physics to strengthen and prove his theory.

1550’s – The beginning of the Scientific Revolution.

1581 - Galileo Galilei showed that all bodies fall at the same rate and in 1604 he observed a supernova. In 1609 he built his own telescope (30x) and was able to see craters in the moon, sunspots, the moons of Jupiter, and the phases of Jupiter. In 1611 he published The Starry Messenger which agreed with Nicolaus Copernicus’ heliocentric theory.

1582 – Pope Gregory XIII introduces the Gregorian calendar, which is used today.

1590 – Zacharias and Hans Janssen produce the first telescope.

1595 – Tyco Brahe made observations of the movement of planets. This work was later used by Kepler to determine the elliptical movement of planets.

1600 - Johannes Kepler reviewed the work of Tyco Brahe (especially Mars data) and determined that the orbit of the planets were elliptical.

1600 – William Gilbert organized what was known about magnetism in his book titled De Magnete.

1620 - Francis Bacon wrote Novum Organum which stated that knowledge needs to be obtained through experimentation (inductive reasoning) not deduction. He is often credited as being the founder of the scientific method.

1627 – William Harvey discovers that blood circulates throughout the body and that the heart is the pump.

1637 – Renee Descartes publishes Discourse on the Method which states that knowledge should rely on a solid foundation. This is instrumental in the Scientific Revolution.

1661 – Marcello Malpighi studied glands and observed that blood moves through capillaries.

1662 - Robert Boyle published the Boyle’s Law which explained the relationship between the pressure and volume of a gas in a closed system. (When one doubles the other is halved.) He is often called the father of chemistry. He believed in experimental/quantitative data. His book titled Sceptical Chymist (1661) was his attempt to eliminate unnecessary wording and language in chemistry.

1665 – Robert Hook wrote Micrographia. He uses a microscope to describe a cell.

1670 – Robert Boyle produced hydrogen in the lab.

1674 - Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovers protozoa.

1679 – Denis Papin discovers the atmospheric pressure effect the boiling point of a liquid.

1687 - Sir Isaac Newton wrote Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica which discusses the 3 laws of motion and explained tides and lunar motion. He invented a scientific method with four steps which was applicable to all fields of science, invented calculus, and worked on optics. He also determined that gravity and inertia keep planets in orbit.

1693 – Edmund Halley discovers the formula used to focus a lens. In 1705 he published his findings on Halley’s Comet.

1700 – The end of the Scientific Revolution.

1714 – Britain creates first research center called the Board of Longitude.

1747 – Benjamin Franklin began studying and experimenting with electricity. In 1752 he proved that lightning was electricity with his famous kite and key experiment. In 1754 he found iron rods to draw lightning away from homes. He also invented the Franklin stove, the catheter, and bifocal glasses.

1749 – Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon spent most of his life writing Histoire naturelle which among many things estimated the age of the earth to be 75,000 years old.

1778 - Antoine Lavoisier is often called the first modern chemist or the father of modern chemistry. He wrote Considérations Générales sur la Nature des Acides which showed that air is needed for burning and to produce acid. His 1789 book Traité Élémentaire de Chimie was the first chemistry textbook (modern). Included in this book was his Law of Conservation of Mass.

1778 – Jan Ingenhousz discovered photosynthesis after replicating the experiments of Jason Priestly.

1785 – James Hutton published a book on rock formations and was called the father of geology.

1796 – Edward Jenner treated a smallpox patient using material found in a cowpox blister. He is considered to be the father of immunology.

1798 – George Cuvier was the founder of vertebrate paleontology and used fossils to explain that species became extinct.

1801 – Jean Baptiste Lamarck came before Darwin’s theory of evolution. He stated that time and favorable conditions lead to change.

1821 - Michael Faraday studied electricity and magnetism and started his experiments in 1821. He built the first electric motor, generator, transformer, and also declared that the earth had a magnetic field.

1827 – Robert Brown uses the microscope to study plants. He studied plant fertilization and pollination and also differentiated between angiosperms and gymnosperms.

1830-1833 – Charles Lyell wrote Principles of Geology which explained how the earth changes over time and that the past will predict the future.

1838 – Matthais Schleiden explained cell theory by saying that plants are made of cells or cell products.

1839 – Theodor Schwann explained the cell theory of animals by replicating Schleiden’s idea that they are made of cells and the product of cells.

1850 – Rudolf Virchow wrote the cell theory of tumors.

1855 – Alfred Russel Wallace inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution with a paper witten from data collected in the Amazon Rain Forest. He believed that evolution occurred through natural selection.

1859 – Charles Darwin published his book on evolution titled On the Origins of Species. He would later publish The Descent of Man in 1871, where he discusses the evolution of man.

1863 – Karl Mobius opens an aquarium and begins studying oysters, thus introducing the world to ecology.

1866 – Gregory Mendel explained heredity as a pairing of dominant and recessive genes.

1869 – Dmitri Mendeleev created the periodic table of elements.

1873 – James Maxwell published a book on magnetism and electricity titled Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism and also found the Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases.

1879 – Thomas Edison was able to make a light bulb that was reliable, safe, and practical.

1879 – Walter Flemming said that chromosomes split during mitosis.

1897 – JJ Thompson discovered the electron.

1890 – Emil Adolf von Behring discovered antibodies used to create vaccines for diphtheria and tetnus.

1891 – James Chadwick discovered the neutron.

1895 - Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen accidentally discovered x-rays by beaming an electron ray onto a cathode tube.

1901- Antoine Henri Becquerel was the French physicist who discovered radioactivity using uranium. He won the Nobel Prize in 1903.

1903- Ladislas Deutsch stated that antigens are used to create antibodies to fight foreign molecules.

1903 – Marie Curie was a two time winner of the Nobel Prize which was awarded for her work on the discovery that thorium and uranium were both radioactive. She also discovered two new elements in 1911.

1904 – Theodor Boveri confirmed Wilhelm Roux’s assertion that chromosomes carry hereditary traits and that the division during mitosis was equal due to this division process.

1905 – Albert Einstein published three papers whose topics included special relativity, photoelectric effect, and an explanation of Brownian motion. He also developed the general theory of relativity and was a 1921 recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics.

1906 – Ramon Cajal received the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work on the nervous system.

1908 – Ernest Rutherford won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, despite being a physicist. His work in nuclear physics included the discovery of the radioactive half life, creating the planetary model of the atom, and splitting the atom in 1917.

1909 – Guglielmo Marconi and Karl Ferdinand Braun won the Nobel Prize for their efforts in the development of wireless telegraphy.

1913 – Niels Bohr was the atomic physicist who created the quantum model of an atom which is similar to the model of the solar system except that attraction exists instead of gravity. In 1922, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

1913 – JJ Thompson discovered isotopes when experimenting with neon light using mass spectrometry.

1914 – Theodore Richards found the atomic weight of many elements.

1915 – Thomas Morgan wrote The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity. He would later become the first person to win the 1933 Nobel Prize in medicine for their work in genetics.

1915 – Alfred Wegener published a book which introduced the continental drift theory and plate tectonics. He said that Pangaea broke apart 200 million years ago and drifted to their current position and used coastlines, fossils, glacier scaring, and rocks as evidence for the theory.

1918 - Max Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the Quantum Theory (Quantum Physics).

1929 – Edwin Hubble made observations of the universe which eventually led to the Big Bang Theory.

1930’s – Earnest Lawrence created the cyclotron

1931 – Linus Pauling was one of the greatest chemists of all time. He wrote The Nature of the Chemical Bond which was recognized in 1954 with a Nobel Prize as a lifetime achievement award in the field of chemistry. He is the only person to win two Nobel Prizes as a single individual.

1932 – Werner Heisenberg won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1927 on the Uncertainty Principle which uses his creation of Quantum Mechanics to determine the impossibility of finding the momentum and position of an electron at the same time, accurately.

1937 – Hans Krebs discovers the cyclic oxidation of substrates in mitochondria and the formation of citrate to be the missing link.

1943 – George de Hevesy used isotopes to discover nuclear fission. He is the founder of the nuclear age.

1950 – Edward Kendall, Philip Hench, and Tadeus Reichstein won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research of the adrenal cortex hormone.

1953 – Clair Cameron Patterson used lead-uranium dating to calculate the first accurate age of the earth.

1953 – Francis Crick and James Watson paired nucleotides to create the double helix appearance of the DNA molecule.

1956 – William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain won the Nobel Prize for creating a transistor made from semi-conductor material used with electric current. This changed the landscape of electronics as things became cheaper to make.

1958 – Fredrick Sanger received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for sequencing amino acids to thus sequence insulin.

1958 – Jean Dausset identified histocompatibility antigens which tell the body's immune system what belongs in the body and what does not.

1959 – Gordon Gould invented the laser.

1970 – Oncogenes are described as a virus that has implanted itself into the host cell’s genome.

1972 – John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Schrieffer won the Nobel Prize in physics for their BCS Theory on superconductivity, which is a microscopic effect.

1972 - James Bardeen, Brandon Carter, and Stephen Hawking propose four laws of black hole mechanics.

1974 – Stephen Hawking believed in the existence of small black-holes and calculated that they send out particles based on the black-hole's mass. 

1975 – E.O. Wilson published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis which explained the evolution in the social behaviors of animals.

1976 – Burton Richter and Samuel Chao Chung Ting won the Nobel Prize for discovering elementary particles/subatomic particles which advanced high energy physics.

1978 – Peter Mitchell received the Nobel Prize for his work on chemiosmosis.

1980 – Walter Gilbert and Fredrick Sanger received the Nobel Prize for their work on DNA sequencing.

1983 – Francois Barre-Sinnousi discovered the HIV virus as she linked the virus as the cause of AIDS.

1989 – Sidney Altman and Thomas Cech received the Nobel Prize for their efforts in determining the catalytic properties of RNA.

1993 – Kary Mullis won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work with polymerase chain reactions.

1993 – Michael Smith also won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for being able to inactivate genes so others can be implanted into the host. This is called site-directed mutagenesis.

1997 – Jens Skou won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of Na+/K+ATPase, which is necessary for cell functions.

1997 – Dolly created via the cloning of a lamb.

1997 – Leukemia found in stem cells which showed the possibility of cancer stem cells.

1998 – James Thompson took cells from embryos and developed the first embryonic stem cell.

2000 - Karl Gebhardt, John Kormendy, Douglas Richstone, Laura Ferrarese and David Merritt determined how to calculate the mass of a black-hole which supports the theory that a quasar is a growing black-hole.

2001 – Roger Cayrel used a spectroscope and a VLT to determine the age of the universe to be 9.5-15.5 billion years old.

2001- Craig Ventner and Francis Collins published the Human Genome Project.

2008 - Francois Barre-Sinnousi and Luc Montagnier discovered that cervical cancer was caused by a virus and won the Nobel Prize in medicine.


Browne, Carol. History of Science Presentation. 2010

Chronology Timeline Project. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

Encyclopedia Britanica’s Guide to the Nobel Prizes. Information obtained on 5 Nov. 2010 from

Experimental Biosciences. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

Eric Weinstein’s World of Scientific Biography. Information obtained on 3 Nov. 2010 from

History of Biology: Cell Theory and Cell Structure. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

List of Famous Scientists in History. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

History of Science: Prehistory-1600’s. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

Science History Timeline Before 1900. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from,%20Before%201900.htm

Slowiczek, F. and Peters, P. The Discovery of Radioactivity: The Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Information obtained on 6 Nov. 2010 from

Timeline of Nobel Winners. Information obtained on 3 Nov. 2010 from


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