Science is ever-evolving, always being shaped by the next big thing to come about in terms of invention or discovery. Yet neither could really exist without first having some specific discoveries first. Everything builds upon itself in science, nothing is from nothing else and everything is from something.
We must remember this when it comes to the greatest discoveries ever. To count as a discovery that could be considered great or iconic, you must have changed how things were done before this discovery occurred. What was the original theory or how did you handle something prior to it? Is this considered to be useful to mankind compared to what was known prior or can the prior knowledge still work well or better?
These questions are important to ask, as it narrows down a list of potentially hundreds of discoveries and brings us to a final set of the most important or iconic. When we say “discovery,” by the way, we mean in terms of what humans came across randomly. This has nothing to do with inventions, although we will reference some inventions that came about due to specific discoveries.