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Humans have always been inquisitive and curious as to how and why things behave as they do. Even in the past, science was already evident in how humans live by using observations to predict the results of actions and by making sense of seasonal changes.

In the 21st century, humans have come so far in the field of science since the time of the Greeks, from discovering atoms as the building block of matter that cannot be broken down into pieces to sending humans to space to explore the cosmos.

Early discoveries have paved the way for new technologies that humans are using today. So, here are some of the notable discoveries in science that happened around 50, 100, and 150 years ago from August 2021, as listed in Scientific American.

 Notable Discoveries in Science 50, 100, and 150 Years Ago that are Not Widely Known
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The effects of liquid chloroform on Sir J. Y. Simpson and his friends. The shattered drinking-glass used by one of the experimenters lies on the floor.

1971

Yaw-Correcting Strategies of Locusts

Five decades ago, scientists published a study titled "Yaw-Correcting Postural Changes in Locusts " in the Journal of Experimental Biology that discusses the yaw-correcting strategies of locusts. According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, "yaw" was first used in the 16th century, which means "movement off course" or "side to side movement."

First, they rapidly change wing tests, abdomen positions, and leg positions controlled by wind-sensitive hairs on the head. Second, their cervical receptors send subtle and slower movement to correct yaw. In general, the insect's central nervous system integrates changes in wind angle, followed by motor orders to the wings, legs, abdomen, and head. 

1921

Radio Taste Reception

A study published in the IEEE showed findings from an experiment that determined the feasibility of the reception of radio signals by the sense of taste. The two engineers of the study used low-potential direct current and 60-alternating current to ascertain the amount of energy needed to trigger taste sensation.

However, they found that reception of radio signals from the antenna was impossible, indicating that receiving radio signals by the sense of taste is much inferior to receiving it by the sense of hearing or sight.

The Orange Tree that Revolutionized the Orange Industry

According to Scientific American, an ever-bearing orange tree in Avon Park, Florida, was believed to revolutionize the orange industry. It was surrounded by a heavy wire fence that is 20ft high, and guards were stationed near it 24/7 to protect the orange tree.

It has produced oranges for eight consecutive years, but its existence was only known to the owner and several neighbors who did not realize the tree's value. A group was assigned to propagate the tree to grow them in groves in 1923.

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1871

Artificial Leather

As reported by Britannica, some of the earliest artificial leather was made in the 19th century. Its most important use at the time was for covering carriage tops, traveling bags and trunks and producing rainproof coats and pants.

Scientific American reported that cotton cloth was used to make the fake leather, which was passed through the iron cylinders of machines and then coated with black color, oil, lampblack, resin, and other ingredients. They were boiled together to get the right consistency of melted tar. Then, it is heated to dry before being laid on long tables to be sprinkled with water and rubbed with a pumice stone to make it perfectly smooth.

Lastly, it is varnished and will pass through again the heater before it resembles authentic leather.

Discovery of Chloroform

A paper published in NIH said that the anesthetic properties of chloroform were first discovered by Sir James Young Simpson. He also pioneered its application in surgery, midwifery, and obstetrics.

Aside from that, Scientific American reported that it is used as a solvent for camphor, resins, and sealing wax and to remove greasy spots from fabrics of all kinds.

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Check out more news and information about Science in History in Science Times.