Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Activity 19.5.2 – Discovering the interaction of discoveries and inventions

edisonIsaac Newton, one of the greatest physicists of all time, wrote in a letter to a colleague, “If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”  Indeed, Newton did not make his discoveries in a vacuum, but only after analyzing the observations, data, and writings of his predecessors and colleagues.   Today’s breakthroughs are possible because modern scientists, engineers and inventors are also “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Table 19.13 [download from] lists a few of the “giants” in the history of physics.  Each of these scientists made one or more significant contributions that facilitated the work of others. For example, the invention of the radio by Guglimo Marconi in 1896 would have been impossible without the discovery and research of Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, Lodge, and Tesla. 

(1) Create a timeline of discoveries in physics by sorting the table in ascending order by the year the invention was made.

(2) Discoveries in science are made only when the appropriate technology is available,  and these discoveries can lead to the development of new technologies.  Table 19.13 lists some significant inventions and discoveries made during the last five centuries. Sort the database in an ascending manner by date of discovery or invention.  Identify discoveries or inventions that were necessary to lead to other discoveries or inventions.