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.
- Year(s) Officially Discovered: Roughly Late 1880s
- Discovery Put Into Action: Between 1920 to 1925
- Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Dr. Oscar Minkowski, Dr. Josef von Mering, University of Toronto Researchers
The Discovery of insulin happened by a complete accident. This happened when two doctors at the University of Strasbourg were trying to find out how the pancreas affected digestion. Thus, in 1889 they decided to remove the healthy pancreas of a healthy dog. In doing so, they accidentally gave the dog diabetes.
They found this out several days later when they realized flies were swarming alarmingly around the dog’s urine. Curious about this, the doctors decided to test the urine to see if any abnormalities came back. They found sugar in the urine, but the two men never actually found out why this happened nor how the pancreas regulated blood sugar.
Then in 1922, researchers from the University of Toronto decided to do some tests on the organ. They were able to discover that by isolating pancreatic secretion, one could create insulin. This won the team a Nobel Prize and just one year later, Eli Lily Pharmaceutical Company began selling insulin that would save the lives of millions affected by Diabetes.