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The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Astronomer with a telescope watching the stars and Moon. Photo Credit: AstroStar/Shutterstock


  • Year(s) Officially Discovered: Early 11th Century
  • Discovery Put Into Action: Almost Immediately
  • Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Kitab al-manazir, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Michael Faraday, Hermann von Helmholtz, Roger Bacon, Joseph Priestley, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Lister, Peter Barlow, Lord Ralyeigh

When you hear about “optics,” many think of it as what we see. But rather, it is from the realm of physics and has to do with the behavior and properties of light itself, as well as its interaction with matter & the construction of instruments used to detect it. Specifically, optics target the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Of course, light is connected to electromagnetic waves, therefore, it is connected to electromagnetic radiation such as x-rays, microwaves, and radio waves.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Girl with astronomical telescope stargazing under twilight sky. Photo Credit: AstroStar/Shutterstock

We utilize optical knowledge to develop scopes for guns, eyeglasses, and even cameras. We figured out a long time ago how light operates with other properties like crystal and even glass. Due to this, we are able to make devices that, in a way, manipulate light to give us things we view other things through. However, lasers are also born from optics knowledge as they too have to use some form of light to operate. From the non-lethal light version to those used in surgeries, all optic-connected.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Linguistic Work. Photo Credit: Undrey/Shutterstock


  • Year(s) Officially Discovered: Roughly, the 19th Century
  • Discovery Put Into Action: Most Work In The Field Began By The 1970s/80s
  • Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Noam Chomsky

Some might assume that Linguistics is as old as writing or discussion, yet it’s not. However, it is one of our greatest discoveries and essentially inventions. Linguistics happens to be the study of language, full stop. Yet this study involves a lot of things, such as language form, meaning, and context. It also involves the analysis of how language is used in social, anthropological, historical, and political sectors. It is especially concerned with how language influences others.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
College Freshman Discussing. Photo Credit: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Traditionally, a specific Linguist would study how humans interact by observing the relationship between sound and the meaning behind it. Linguistic knowledge has given us critical information regarding these connections, such as the field of semantics, sarcasm, and the principle discipline of pragmatics. Then you have theoretical linguists who try to understand patterns and structures that allow them to describe something specific. Such as a person’s true belief versus a lie.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Giving Money. Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock


  • Year(s) Officially Discovered: 1776
  • Discovery Put Into Action: Almost Immediately
  • Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Ancient Greeks & Egyptians, Adam Smith

Economics is truly a huge field and likely one of our greatest discoveries ever. Unlike others on this list, it is connected to the world of social science rather than natural science. It involves the study of how people interact with value overall. That includes production, distribution, and even consumption of goods and services. Economists tend to study how the behavior and interactions of economic agents & economics in general connect.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Chinese Paper Money. Photo Credit: vkilikov/Shutterstock

This can involve the larger world of economics (Macroeconomics) such as how the world handles trade, tariffs, GDP, labor, land, capital, inflation, economic growth, etc. Meanwhile, in Microeconomics, you’ll study the household, firms, buying and selling, etc. It was Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism, that truly helped us separate Economics as its own thing. While the Ancient Greeks & Egyptians understood the basics of it, Smith was truly the pioneer of what we connect to economics today.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Transparent Light Prism. Photo Credit: Mila Drumeva/Shutterstock

White Light Spectrum Is A Mixture Of Distinct Colored Rays

  • Year(s) Officially Discovered: 1666
  • Discovery Put Into Action: It took over 100 more years
  • Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Issac Newton

People often miss the fact that a lot of major inventions and discoveries came out of the greatest discoveries ever by Issac Newton. He found that the white light spectrum is a mixture of distinct colored rays. We know that might seem like gibberish, but this is what it means. Using a prism, Newton was able to find that the red light deviated consistently less than the violet light, which is pretty big.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Visible Light Chart. Photo Credit: Omer Bugra/Shutterstock

It meant that when white light passes through something transparent (such as air), into another (such as glass), light components are deflected for the first time all based on color. The same occurs when they reemerge. That, in turn, makes colored light rays from red to violet. From this, Newton developed the White Light Spectrum, which consists of the colors red, orange, green, blue, & violet. In spite of his work, Newton did not know why it did this. Thomas Young would come into play 100 years later to give us the answer.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Stainless Steel Knife. Photo Credit: Roundex/Shutterstock

New Form Of Stainless Steel & Electromagnetic Induction Discovered By The Same Man

  • Year(s) Officially Discovered: 1820 & 1831 Respectively
  • Discovery Put Into Action: Almost Immediately
  • Team/Person Behind The Discovery: Michael Faraday & James Stoddart (only for the steel)

Michael Faraday is one of the world’s greatest inventors, yet he also discovered a lot of important things too. One of the first he along with James Stoddart found was massive. The two discovered that alloying iron with chromium will produce a form of stainless steel that is resistant to oxidizing elements (basically, rust). This was huge and became a staple for several knives and other cutlery that we use today both outdoors and indoors. That’s along with a wide variety of other things too.

The Greatest Discoveries that Changed Science Forever
Faraday Ring Coil. Photo Credit: Kathryn Boast/Twitter

Alone, Faraday found that the production of an electromotive force across an electric conductor will change the magnetic field. This became known as electromagnetic induction and helped to give rise to numerous machines that Faraday would later be credited with creating. Moreover, his work pioneered what we see in mechanics and engineering, as this helped us form motors. Basically, all travel we know today is thanks to Faraday’s work. Clearly, these are some of the greatest discoveries of all time.