Caitlyn talks science: 2015 anniversaries of science milestones

Since most occurred over the span of years, it is difficult to pin down one specific day for some of history’s most pressing scientific achievements. However, through some generalizing and fine-tuning, many advancements have managed to nab a single date for their emergence into the scientific world. This week’s science column takes a look at some prominent anniversaries of scientific milestones that are happening in 2015.

The longest jump back in time goes to Alhazen’s “Book of Optics.” The year 2015 marks the 1,000th anniversary of the treatise that became important in medieval Europe and later among Greek philosophers. Arguably the most influential, this year is also the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Propelling “Einstein” to be synonymous with the term “genius” worldwide, the theory basically discussed much of the universe’s beginning and evolution, including concepts like gravity and black holes.

Important inventions are also being celebrated this year. Fifty years ago, Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, an incredibly strong fabric structure used in bulletproof vests. And 250 years ago, James Watt thought up an improved version of the steam engine that used a condenser, which was basically a crucial instigator of the Industrial Revolution. Continuing with science in commercial industry, amplitude modulation, which helped radio become a key component of mass media, was discovered 100 years ago this year.

In 1865, James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundation for conducting theoretical physics through his work with electromagnetism that helped apply electricity to the demands of society. Also in 1865, August Kekulé realized that the benzene molecule had a ring shape after a dream of a snake biting its tail, and Gregor Mendel presented his monumental work on genetics. Lastly, a happy 200th birthday to George Boole, who essentially made computers a reality through his logic with 1s and 0s and true and false.

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