Friday, June 3, 2011

scientific developments in the 1800s

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Scietific development in the 1800s

In the 1800s there were mainly five main areas of scientific development knowledge about the atom, the quantum theory and Einstein’s theories, knowledge about the cell, theories of evolution, genetics and medicine.

In 180 John Dalton was the first person to get experimental evidence of the atom’s existence. He also developed a method for weighing atoms. In 186 Dmitri Mendeleyev made the first workable classification of the atoms, the precedent of the modern periodic table. In the 1800s heat was also began to be thought of resulting from the movements of atomic particles. In 185 Wilhelm K. Roentgen discovered the x-rays but could, however, not explain the principle behind them. In 187 J. J. Thomson discovered the electron and introduced the idea that atoms consist of sub-atomic particles. When Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radioactivity and Ernest Rutherford protons, scientists no longer thought the atom as a solid piece of matter. Later the neutron and more that 0 atomic particles were discovered.

In 100 Max Planck introduced the quantum theory disproving the idea that energy was continuous. He proved that energy could only be released in certain packages. In 105 Albert Einstein wrote four papers that revolutionized physics. In the first he stated that the movements of two touching substances can result from atomic motion and collisions. In the second one he extended the quantum theory to describe light consisting of little particles of energy. In the third one he introduced the theory of relativity that stated no particles can move faster than light and motion can be measured only relative to the observer. The fourth on concluded the e=mc. Einstein’s theories introduced the fourth dimension, time, along with the three dimension of the universe, creating the space-time continuum. Einstein’s and Planck’s theories created possibilities for many advanced theories. In 11 Niels Bohr by applying the quantum theory discovered that the behavior of atoms reveals atomic structure.

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In 1858 Rudolf Virchow expanded the former simple cell theory by showing that the destruction of change of cells causes disease and that only living matter can produce living matter, therefore every cell must come from an older cell. He also proved the cell to be the basic unit of living matter.

In the 1800s main theories about evolution were created. In the early 1800s Jean Baptiste Lamarck’s theory stated that living beings change in response to their environment; the useful characteristics develop and the useless fade away. The changes were then passed on by inheritance and if changes occur during millions, the process could have produced all living things. Lamarck’s theory was, however, soon disproved. In 185 Charles Darwin published his theory of the evolution. It was not based on direct changes, but on natural selection. According to him there are always differences in creatures in a certain generation. Those that are best adapted to the environment survive, and the others die. They the pass their characteristics by inheritance and the same happens again. This way nature selected the better-adapted individuals and in different places the same ancestors developed different ways.

Darwin did not, however, explain why offspring were not exactly like the parents. In 1860s and 1870 Gregor Mendel did research on inheritance and concluded that inborn characteristics were not mixed together, but inherited in separate packages, genes.

Probably the most important discoveries during the 1800s were made in the field of medicine. In the late 1700s Edward Jenner developed the principle of inoculation, and in 176 made his first vaccine. In the late 1800s Louis Pasteur revealed the scientific principle behind inoculation. He discovered that bacteria reproduce like living things and are responsible for many things. Some cause fermentation and some cause diseases. Pasteur created pasteurization to kill bacteria from liquids to prevent fermentation. He also revealed that when the weakened germs in a vaccine enter the body, it produces antibodies that remain in the body. They are then ready to fight the full-power disease if it arrives.

Another important development in medicine was the development of surgery. In the 1840s chloroform and ether were discovered to cause unconsciousness and eliminate pain. This helped a lot in performing operations, but it did not solve the problem of many dying after the operations for infections. From the basis of Pasteur’s work Joseph Lister created antiseptics, saving the lives of many people. Later many improved vaccines and medicines were developed, probably the most important being aspirin in 180s, insulin in 10s and penicillin in 18.

Many of the scientific and medical developments of the 1800s also have had profound effects on modern society. The new knowledge about the atoms allowed for a new approach for further research and a basis for all modern chemical knowledge. The theories of Planck and Einstein had great effects on the understanding of our surroundings. Especially Einstein’s theory of relativity has been utilized in many scientific discoveries and theories. One example of it is the fusion power plant, which could in the future solve all the energy problems on earth. Another example is the big bang theory that is greatly based on Einstein’s theory of relativity. The cell theory in biology laid a basis for further research of living organisms, as it was known that cells were a basis for all living things. The evolution theory of Darwin is still used in its almost original form as the scientific explanation of the development of life on earth. The discovery of genes was a starting point to all gene-research that has now led the modern gene-engineering and the modern knowledge of our building blocks. The development of vaccines saved very many lives and prevented the world from many fatal epidemics. It is, however, interesting to note that inoculation was first developed in India 100 years earlier.

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