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Updated: February 26, 2013 17:34 IST

Small steps to discovery

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On National Science Day, February 28,let us take a look at some of the inventions and discoveries that changed the world.

First, there was nothing. Then suddenly, with a big bang, that nothing became something. Somehow, a few hundred million billion stars, planets and other celestial bodies came into being. But so far, the only we planet we know of that supports life is the Earth.

Humans have been around for approximately 70,000 years. Whereas the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years!

Since the first Homo sapiens, several scientific discoveries and inventions have made life what it is today. From the discovery of fire to the invention of the smart phone, humans have taken huge steps.

India too has made several contributions to this revolution. From the invention of the zero by Aryabhata to the modern age where Indian scientists are making major contributions the world over, it has been a phenomenal journey. Scientists such as Yellapragada Subba Rao, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose, M.S. Swaminathan, Sir C.V. Raman and Vikram Sarabai have put India on a global platform, when it comes to science.

Somewhere in the middle, in the year 1928 to be precise, an Indian scientist discovered that when a beam of light passes through a prism, it scatters into the seven colours of the rainbow. This discovery is an important one. It helps us analyse the composition of liquids, gasses and solids. Using it, we can even analyze highly complex materials such as biological organisms and human tissue, thus understanding the universe and life better.

This principle came to be known as the Raman Effect and Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. His invention is designated as an International Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. Hence, we mark the day of the discovery as the National Science Day.

Educational institutions, schools, colleges and science centres celebrate this day in a variety of ways. This year, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is focusing on the theme of genetically modified crops and food security. Poster, painting and essay competitions will be organised. The Indian Space Research Institute (ISRO) and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) too will organise programmes to commemorate the advancements in science.

At the end of the day, a true tribute to Sir C.V. Raman would be to realise that humans have only taken baby steps. Science is infinite and there is a lot that we are yet to learn. We do not yet know more than half of the 8.7 billion species that are estimated to inhabit the Earth. We are yet to explore more than 90 per cent of the underwater world. And we do not know even one per cent of the universe!

But, human curiosity and the ability to ask questions, and passionately pursue till answers are found has always set them apart. Also, compared to the Earth, we have just taken birth. As long as we keep asking questions, we will continue to evolve and grow. And all of us must do that…

Brainwave Science Magazine

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He Came, He Thought, He Conquered

Man was always been curious. This distinction made life as convenient as it is today. Here, we take a look at the timeline of the discoveries and inventions that changed the world.

By Brainwave Magazine, www.bwmag.in

11,000 to 5000 years ago

First boats were invented, making water travel a possibility.

First known cultivation and growing of crops in Egypt and India.

Bricks were used to build homes.

First signs of communication, in the form of rock and cave paintings were found.

The wheel came into use in Mesopotamia, Central Europe, and India.

First writings were found in Egypt in the form of hieroglyphics. This laid the foundation for the alphabet and modern day language.

The Indus Valley Civilization implemented the drainage system. This prevented flooding and waterlogging, a problem that still plagues us today.

The Sumerians, in Mesopotamia were the first to use prescription medicines and conduct surgeries.

4,000 to 2000 years ago

Wagons and wheeled chariots were built, to travel from one place to another.

Abacus, which was the earliest sign of computing data, was invented.

Archimedes laid foundation for the use of mathematics to treat physical problems.

The Pythagoras theorem helped translate the structure of nature into numbers. It is a very important concept related to maths and architecture even today.

The theory of the Earth being spherical was established.

1to 5Century AD

India introduced the world to the Zero. Aryabhata gave birth to the modern decimal-based place value notation. Practical calculations became possible, making matha regular part of life.

The Chinese invented paper, one of the most important inventions for modern age.

Greek scientist Ptolemy compiled a list of all stars visible to the naked eye, laying foundation for modern astronomy.

15th to 19Century A.D

Nikolas Copernicus propounded that the Sun is the center of the universe, and the Earth revolves around it.

Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1455. This gave rise to the first newspaper and mass production of books, bringing the world closer than ever.

Galileo Galilei made improvements to the telescope and paved way for modern observational astronomy.

The invention of the spinning wheel revolutionized the textile industry.

Isaac Newton discovered gravity and came up with the laws of gravity and motion. These are a very important part of physics even today.

Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod.

James Watt made improvements to the steam engine. This played a crucial role in the industrial revolution.

Chemistry became an organized subject of study. Before this, most chemical phenomena were considered magic!

Charles Babbage invented the mechanical computer, laying foundation for the PC.

Edward Jenner invented vaccination for smallpox and Louis Pasteur discovered that bacteria spread diseases, paving way to an era of immunology and good health.

Dimitri Mendeleev created the periodic table of elements based on Atomic Numbers. Using this, he could predict properties of elements yet to be discovered!

Rapid advancements in electricity and transport boosted the industrial revolution and invention of key communication tools such as telegraph, telephone and radio.

Charles Darwin established the scientific theory of evolution. Soon, man started understanding life and nature better.

The first motorcar was built by Benz.

The 20th century

The Wright brothers invented the aeroplane.

Television was invented, giving rise to the popularity of motion picture and entertainment.

Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin, marking the start of the usage of antibiotics towards improved health and life expectancy.

Man’s first travel to space. Today, space tourism is an upcoming industry.

The Internet brought the world closer. Emails, social networking, and digital media became the way of the world.

DNA and Genetics evolved into special sciences. The first mammal, a female sheep, Dolly was cloned successfully from an adult cell.

The present: The 21st century

Wi-Fi internet becomes popular and easily available.

The smartphone ensures mobile connectivity and instant communication.

The study of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence gains prominence.

Alternate and perennial sources of energy such as solar, nuclear, bio-fuel and hydrogen get wider attention from scientists.

Felix Baumgartner breaks the sound barrier, skydiving at a speed of over 700mph.

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