Physics Timeline

-6500 Sumerians invent the wheel
-3500 Sumerians invent phonetic writing and numbering system
-1700 Windmills developed by Babylonians; they are used to pump water for irrigation
-1450 Egyptians use the sundial to measure time
-650 Royal Library established by Ashurbanpial at Nineveh, including an estimated 20,000 cunieform tablets
-600 Greek philosophers describe magnetic properties of lodestones (ferric ferrite)
-600 Static electricity effects generated by rubbing amber with fur recorded by Greek philosopher Aristophanes
-550 Pythagoras proposes that sound is a vibration of air
-500 Invention of the abacus
-440 Leucippus of Miletus introduces the concept of the atom, an indivisible unit of matter
-400 Democritus develops the theory that matter is actually composed of tiny indivisible particles, which he terms "atomos"
-400 Syracuse saw the development of catapults that fired arrows, using basic physics principles
-387 Greek scholars establish the "Academy" to promote scientific and philosophical discussions
-370 "Optica" published by Euclid
-360 Aristotle discovers that free fall is an accelerated form of motion
-335 Aristotle established the Greek Lyceum as a focal point for philosophical, scientific and logical thinking
-300 Euclid's "Elements" published, pulling together mathematical and philosophical thinking
-280 Egyptians build Pharos of Alexandria, the world's first lighthouse
-270 Water clock built by Ctesibius
-250 Archimedes develops the principles of buoyancy and levers
-46 Julius Caesar develops solar calendar
62 Hero of Alexandria invents the aeolipile, a primitive steam engine
100 Hero of Alexandria describes experiments he has undertaken with air, and also writes about light, mirrors and very simple machines
271 Magnetic compass invented by Chinese scientists
415 Female astronomer, mathematician, inventor and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria killed by an angry mob; rumours suggest her death was a political assassination
517 Philoponus described "impetus" and showed that all objects fall with the same acceleration
644 Persian inventors develop a wind-power machine, the first windmill
700 Widespread use of water wheels in Europe for the production of power
725 I-Hsing invents a mechanical clock which struck on the hour and half-hour
860 Cyrillic alphabet is devised by Greek missionary Cyril
976 Zero numeral first used in Europe
1015 The Arabian physicist "Alhazen" explains how lenses work and develops parabolic mirrors
1045 Chinese inventor Bi Sheng invens moveable type, four hundred years before Gutenberg's device
1086 First description of a magnetic compass by Chinese scientist Shen Kua
1088 First European university established at Bologna, Italy
1101 Death of Su Song, a Chinese astronomer who invented a water clock accurate to 2 minutes a day
1120 Abu'l Barakat attempted to disprove Aristotlean physics
1126 Latin translations of Greek and Arabic scientific publications carried out by Adelard
1150 Bhaskara is one of the first to describe a "perpetual motion" machine
1175 Compass mechanism first described by English monk Alexander Neckem
1220 Nemorarius publishes "Mechanica", which contains the law of levers and the law of composition of movements
1230 "Speculum majus", a compilation of philosophical and scientific knowledge, was produced by Vincent of Beauvais
1232 Chinese invent and use rockets to help defend the city of Kaifeng against Mongol invaders
1250 Roger Bacon first applies geometry to the study of optics, and emphasises the use of lenses for magnification
1269 Petrus de Marincourt describes a compass with a pivot point and also a floating compass
1270 "Perspectiva", a treatise of optics, refraction, reflection and geometrical optics is published by Witelo
1275 Albertus Magnus studies the effect of sunlight on silver nitrate and also examines the rainbow effect of light
1280 Production of the first mechanical clocks
1285 Modern windmills invented
1289 Popozo makes the first mention of spectacles in a manuscript
1303 First suggested use of lenses as an aid to correct eyesight
1326 An order for iron bullets mentions a prototype handgun
1348 Giovanni de'Dondi develops a complex astronomical clock, showing planetary motion and religious festivals
1350 Distinction between a body's (and thus Earth's) centre of gravity and its geometric centre made by Albert of Saxony
1355 Jean Buridan develops the idea of impetus
1366 Invention of weighing scales
1480 Reflection of light studied by Da Vinci
1485 Leonardo Da Vinci sketched an idea for a parachute. He later drew flying machines
1510 Da Vinci produced notebooks filled with his notes on astronomy, ideas for inventions and mechanics
1510 Henlein invents the pocket watch
1558 Italian scientist Giovanni Della Porta publishes "Magiae Naturalis Libri" a work about physics, alchemy and astronomy, which also includes details of the camera obscura
1568 Barbaro publishes an account of the use of a convex lens to sharpen the image recorded by a camera obscura
1577 Jost Burgi developed the minute hand for clocks; it was not formally introduced for another century
1582 Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, Clavius and Lilius; this features an improved adjustment for leap years
1583 Galileo's pendulum experiments, which showed that the time of oscillation was independent of the amplitude
1586 Stevinus notes that two items of different weights dropped at the same time strike the ground together - first real observations of gravity
1590 Galileo writes "De motu" (on motion); never published, this work refutes Aristotelian physics
1590 Janssen invents the compound microscope
1592 Galileo develops the thermoscope
1593 Galileo invents a water thermometer
1600 William Gilbert publishes "De Magnete" in which he describes the Earth's magnetism
1604 Major work on optics published by Kepler
1608 Hans Lippershey invents the telescope
1609 Galileo establishes the principle of falling bodies descending to Earth at the same speed
1609 Galileo constructs his own telescope and starts his series of discoveries, including the four largest moons of Jupiter, craters on the Moon and the "handles" of Saturn (later shown to be rings)
1609 Galileo develops a compound microscope with both convex and concave lenses
1616 Early form of reflecting telescope developed by Italian astronomer Zucchi
1620 Scientific method analysed by Francis Bacon
1621 Snell's Law of refraction of light
1622 Invention of the slide rule by Edmund Gunter
1625 First use of the term "microscope", by Giovanni Faber
1629 Branca develops a primitive steam turbine
1636 Galileo's final published book focused on statics and dynamics
1642 Principles of hydraulics published by Pascal
1643 Torricelli invents the mercury barometer and observes the first vacuum
1652 Fluid pressure laws determined by Pascal
1654 Invention of vacumm pump by Otto von Guericke
1656 The pendulum clock is invented by Christiaan Huygens
1658 Hooke's invention of the balance spring for watches
1658 Fermat's theory of "least time" - a ray of light will travel a route so as take the shortest possible time to reach its intended destination
1659 Robert Boyle devises an air pump, and discovers that objects fall at the same rate in a vacuum
1660 Static electricity generator invented by von Guericke
1662 Boyle's Law published, stating that the pressure and volume of a gas are inversely proportional
1663 Gregory's "The Advance of Optics" describes the first practical reflecting telescope
1665 Newton's law of universal gravitation
1665 First true scientific journal publication: Philosophical Transactions (of the Royal Society of London)
1666 Newton observes the effect of a prism on white light; the light separates into different colours
1669 The concept of double refraction discovered by Danish physicist Bartholin
1674 "Simple microscope" invented by Anton van Leeuwenhoek
1675 "Experiments and Notes About the Mechanical Origine [sic] or Production of Electricity" published by Robert Boyle
1676 Hooke's Law
1676 Speed of light estimated at 140,000 miles per second by Danish physicist and mathematician Ole Roemer
1676 Minute hand introduced to clocks
1678 Polarisation of light discovered by Huygens
1679 Papin invents a steam pressure cooking device
1680 Second hand introduced for clocks and watches
1684 Isaac Newton publishes "De Motu Corporum", his first writings on gravitation
1687 "Principia" published. Isaac Newton's great work includes his 3 laws of motion and also the law of universal gravitation
1690 Although he first established it in 1678, Huygens published his wave theory of light in this year
1698 Basic steam engine invented by Savery
1704 Isaac Newton put forward the corpuscular theory of light in his publication "Opticks"
1710 Rene Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur develops the first thermometer
1712 20 years after Papin's initial experiments, Thomas Newcomen develops a working atmospheric steam engine
1712 Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen build a practical working engine used in mining
1714 Fahrenheit invents the mercury thermometer
1728 Speed of light newly esimated by Bradley to be 183,000 miles per second
1730 First compound magnet produced by Savery
1731 John Hadley invents the quadrant navigational aid
1732 Gray publishes his theory of electrical induction, which he had discovered three years earlier
1733 Invention of achromatic lens by Chester Moor Hall
1734 Two kinds of electricity (attraction and repulsion) observed by Charles du Fay
1738 Laws of fluid mechanics put forward by Bernoulli
1740 Magnets made by Gowen Knight become available to navigators and scientists
1742 Anders Celsius invents the temperature scale named after him
1745 The "Leyden jar", an electric capacitor, invented independently by van Musschenbroek and Kleist
1748 Lomonosov formulates the laws of conservation of mass and conservation of energy
1750 Mitchell publishes a book describing how to make steel magnets
1752 Benjamin Franklin performs his famous "kite experiments" and shows that lightning is a form of electricity
1757 James Watt began work on the steam engine; he makes his most significant developments in 1763
1761 Latent heat and specific heat described by Joseph Black
1769 James Watt invented the steam engine
1775 Industrial Revolution in England starts; this is a boom time for invention and mechanization
1780 Galvani observed electrical current passing from a generator to a frog's leg!
1783 Montgolfier and Michel invented the hot air balloon, and flew it to an altitude of over 1 mile
1783 Benjamin Franklin develops the first bifocal glasses
1783 Self-winding clock patented by Benjamin Hanks
1785 Inverse square law for electric force determined and proved by Coulomb
1787 Charles' Law established (gases)
1793 First long distance semaphore line established
1798 Rumford discovers the link between heat and friction
1798 The mass of the Earth is determined by Cavendish
1800 The voltaic cell is invented by Alessandro Volta
1800 Herschel discovers that sunlight has an infra red region
1800 James Ross discovers the magnetic North Pole
1801 Thomas Young discovers interference of light
1801 Henry's Law established for gases
1801 The first steam-powered pumping station is built near Philadelphia to supply power
1801 Discovery of ultraviolet (UV) radiation by Johann Wilhelm Ritter
1808 Modern atomic theory is put forward by John Dalton
1808 Humphry Davy demonstrates the first electric carbon arc light
1815 Marie-Sophie Germain published papers which formed the basis for the modern theory of elasticity
1816 Fresnel explains the refraction of light
1816 Frenchman Rene Lannec invents the stethoscope
1817 Joseph von Fraunhofer independently rediscovers Wollaston's earlier observations of dark lines in the Solar spectrum, beginning the era of Solar physics and Solar spectroscopy
1819 Hans Orsted discovers electromagnetism
1820 The laws of electrodynamics established by Andre Ampere
1821 Dynamo principle described by Faraday
1821 Seebeck invents the thermocouple
1825 First passenger steam railway opens between Stockton and Darlington, England
1826 Ampere publishes electrodynamic theory
1826 Niepce produces the first photograph
1827 Ohm's law of electrical resistance established
1827 Robert Brown observes what becomes known as Brownian motion
1827 Amici invents the achromatic microscope lens
1829 Graham's Law of gaseous diffusion
1829 Louis Braille invented embossed typing for the blind reader which bears his name
1830 Thermocouple invented by Melloni
1830 Joseph Henry builds the first electromagnetic motor; it has little practical use
1831 Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction
1832 Although he first recognised this phenomenon in 1830, Henry finally published his work on self-inductance in this year
1832 Fourneyron produces the first water turbine
1833 Faraday introduces the laws of electrolysis and coins terms such as electrode, anode, cathode, ion, cation, anion, and electrolyte
1833 The electric telegraph is invented by Gauss
1833 Charles Babbage creates the first designs for his "analytical engine", a prototype computer
1834 Wheatstone measures the speed of electricity using revolving mirrors and several miles of wire
1834 First use of the term scientist, coined by William Whewell
1836 The first reliable source of electric current is produced, using copper and zinc. This becomes known as the Daniell Cell
1837 Invention of the telegraph
1837 Electric motor first used in practical applications; Davenport builds a model railroad car and uses motorised machinery
1838 Samuel Morse makes the first public demonstration of Morse Code
1839 Development of the daguerreotype image; these are produced by the effect of sunlight on treated silver-coated copper
1840 Englishman Charles Babbage invents the first mechanical computer
1840 Lady Augusta Ada Byron Lovelace, the daughter of the poet Byron, wrote the first computer programs
1842 Doppler effect discovered
1842 Principle of conservation of energy put forward by Julius Mayer
1843 Joule describes the mechanical equivalent of heat
1844 Samuel Morse demonstrated the code named after him for use with the telegraph, establishing a connection between Washington and Baltimore
1845 Faraday effect first noted on plane polarised light
1847 Hermann von Helmholtz proposed the Law of Conservation of Energy
1848 'Science' magazine first published
1848 Kelvin develops his temperature scale, with absolute zero defined as 0 degrees K (Kelvin)
1849 French physicist Armand Fizeau measures the speed of light
1849 Brewster builds the first model stereoscope
1850 Seebeck discovers thermoelectricity, where the application of heat to a metal junction generates electric current
1851 Foucault demonstrates the rotation of the Earth
1851 Kelvin proposes "absolute zero"
1852 George Stokes devised a method for the artificial production of what he termed "fluorescence"
1853 First petrol lamp developed
1859 First spectrographic analysis performed by Bunsen and Kirchhoff
1859 Plucker invents the cathode ray tube
1860 First practical use of arc lighting
1860 Kirchoff's Law published
1860 Internal combustion engine developed by Lenoir
1861 The discovery of osmosis
1861 The presence of hydrogen in the Sun was confirmed by Angstrom's spectroscopic analysis
1861 First colour photograph put together by James Clerk Maxwell
1863 US National Academy of Sciences initiated by Abraham Lincoln
1863 World's first underground railway system opened in London
1866 Leclanche Cell invented by eponymous French engineer
1866 Telegraph cable laid beneath the Atlantic Ocean, providing highspeed communication between the UK and America
1867 Fluorescent lamp devised and demonstrated by Becquerel
1868 First traffic lights introduced to ease problems in London
1869 'Nature' journal first published
1871 Paper published describing what became known as the "Rayleigh scattering" of light
1871 Gramme introduced the first commerically-significant electric motor, following 50 years of research across the world
1873 Maxwell describes light as electromagnetic radiation
1874 Stoney suggests that electricity is composed of individual negative particles - "electrons"
1874 Kelvin puts forward the Second Law of thermodynamics
1876 Invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell and independently by Elisha Gray. Bell was the first to file for a patent - by two hours!
1876 Otto develops the first four-stroke internal combustion engine
1877 Rayleigh lays the foundation for modern acoustics in his publication "Theory of Sound"
1877 Thomas Edison invents the phonograph for sound recording and transmission
1878 London street lighting goes electric
1879 Thomas Edison invents the light bulb
1879 Speed of light calculated by Albert Michelson to be 186,350 miles per second (give or take 30 m/s)
1879 Properties of cathode rays discovered by William Crookes
1881 American scientist Michelson invents the interferometer
1881 Godalming, Surrey, hosts the first public electricity supply, with power generated via a waterwheel
1882 Gibbs and Helmholtz independently distinguished between free and bound energy in chemical systems, deriving the Gibbs-Helmholtz equation
1882 World's first hydroelectric power plant opened in Wisconsin, US
1883 Piezoelectricity discovered by Pierre Curie
1883 First electric railway built at Brighton by Magnus Volks
1884 Charles Parsons builds a turbine; this technology would become widespread in power generation
1884 Daimler produces an internal combustion engine, which runs on petrol
1885 Eastman begins production and marketing of first commerical photographic film
1887 Michelson and Morley run experiments which show that the speed of light remains constant
1887 Hertz predicts the existence of radio waves - he successfully detects them a year later
1887 The theory of electrolytic dissociation is put forward by Arrhenius
1887 Hertz discovers the photoelectric effect
1887 Celluloid film for photography produced
1888 Nikola Tesla designs alternating current (AC) power generator
1888 Kodak develop the first mass-produced photographic camera
1888 John Dunlop invents the pneumatic tyre
1889 First direct dial telephone invented by Strowger
1890 Turbine-driven electric power generators began to appear
1891 Development of Kinetograph, used to show celluloid film movies
1892 Electron theory published by Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz
1892 Rudolf Diesel develops the engine named after him
1895 Marconi pioneers the wireless telegram
1895 Rontgen discovers X-rays
1895 First electric hand drill invented by Fein
1895 Lumieres develop "cinematographe"
1895 First hearing aid devised by Miller Reese Hutchison
1896 Radioactivity is discovered by Becquerel
1896 The "Zeeman effect", whereby the application of a magnetic field to a substance causes a spectral line to split into a series of closely-spaced lines, is first observed
1896 Hydroelectric power generators designed by Tesla became operational at Niagara Falls, USA. These would shortly supply electricity to New York.
1897 J. J. Thomson discovers that electrons are negatively charged particles with very tiny mass; this is the discovery of subatomic particles
1897 Radio message sent by Marconi over 20 mile distance from Isle of Wight to Poole, Dorset, England
1897 Rudolf Diesel, a German engineer, builds a compression-ignition engine
1898 Wien identified a positive particle, later known as the proton
1899 Ernest Rutherford discovers alpha and beta rays
1899 Foundation of the American Physical Society
1900 Gamma rays are discovered by Villard
1900 Max Planck puts forward his quantum theory
1900 Soddy observed the spontaneous disintegration of radioactive elements into isotopes - discovery of "half life" of elements
1901 First Nobel Prizes awarded in physics (Rontgen) and chemistry (van 't Hoff)
1901 Invention of the safety razor by Gillette and the vacuum cleaner by Henry Booth
1901 Marconi transmits radio waves that are detected across the Atlantic Ocean
1902 Air conditioning unit invented by Willis Carrier, enabling its users to control air temperature and humidity
1902 Neon light invented by George Claude
1903 Wright Brothers achieved first manned flight in their "Kitty Hawk" craft
1903 Ductile tungsten, as used in lightbulbs, is invented by William Coolidge
1903 Nagaoka put forward the idea of a positive nucleus orbited by rings of electrons
1903 Charles Curtis and William Emmet develop the steam turbine generator and the steam turbine, respectively
1903 Soddy and Rutherford publish their studies of radioactivity leading to the transformation of atoms
1904 Vacuum tube diode invented by Fleming
1904 "Lorentz transformation" (of bodies moving at speeds close to that of light) first proposed
1905 Einstein puts forward his special theory of relativity
1905 Einstein proposes wave-particle duality of light. He introduces the idea of discrete portions of energy, later called "photons"
1906 Theory of iron magnetism proposed by Pierre Weiss
1906 Nernst's "Third Law" of thermodynamics published, in which he suggested that changes to a body at absolute zero incur no change in entropy
1906 Lee De Forest invents the triode
1906 In a precursor to its full development, a sonar-type device is invented by Lewis Nixon
1907 Lumieres develop colour photography
1908 Geiger and Rutherford invent the Geiger counter
1908 Elmer Sperry invents the gyrocompass
1909 Charge and mass of the electron determined by Millikan via oil drop experiment
1909 Rutherford and Royds determine that alpha particles are doubly ionised helium atoms
1910 Marie Curie's "treatise on radioactivity" published
1910 First movie picture with sound is developed by Thomas Edison
1911 Rutherford discovers the atomic nucleus
1911 Discovery of superconductivity by Dutch physicist Heike Onnes
1911 Electric starter motor for automobiles invented by Charles Kettering
1911 Marie Curie becomes the first person to gain two Nobel Prizes, adding chemistry to her 1903 physics award
1912 Invention of crystal diode by Pickard
1913 Niels Bohr puts forward the orbiting electron atomic theory
1914 Rutherford discovers the proton
1915 Lawrence and William Bragg discover X-ray crystallography
1915 Sonar developed by Frenchman Langevin
1916 Einstein's general theory of relativity is published
1916 Using the photoelectric effect, Robert Millikan measures "h", the Planck constant
1916 Radio tuners invented, allowing users to select different broadcasts
1917 Mount Wilson astronomical telescope is installed - with a mirror size of 100 inches, it remains the world's largest for three decades
1918 Aston discovers mass spectrography and isotopes
1919 American physicist Elmer Samuel Imes accurately measures the interatomic distances in molecules
1919 Invention of superheterodyne receiver enables radio enthusiasts to receive a wide range of stations in much clearer quality
1919 First commercial quench-hardened steel magnets made available
1919 Mass production of electric washing machines and refrigerators
1919 Post-war inventions include the arc welder, the pop-up toaster and short wave radio
1920 Rutherford first proposed the existence of the neutron
1920 Pittsburgh's KDKA becomes the first commercial radio station to make regular broadcasts; almost 600 new stations are on the airwaves within 2 years
1921 Western Union send the first electronically-transmitted photograph
1921 The first robot is developed and built
1922 The possibility of an expanding Universe is predicted by general relativity
1922 Bohr proposed that atomic structure was composed of "orbital shells" of electrons
1923 Arthur Compton confirms the particle nature of light
1923 Louis de Broglie suggests that light particles are also wave-like
1923 First electric refrigerator produced by Electrolux company
1923 Zworykin develops the iconoscope, the first television
1923 The self-winding watch is invented by Harwood
1923 In the same year that Electrolux develop their refrigerator, Clarence Birdseye invents frozen food
1924 Rice and Kellogg develop the loudspeaker
1925 Discovery of the Pauli Exclusion Principle
1925 Fermi-Dirac statistics formulated
1925 John Logie Baird develops the mechanical television
1925 "Leica" 35mm format camera introduced
1926 Wave mechanics introduced by Schroedinger
1926 First demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird
1926 UK National Grid introduced following "Electricity Supply Act"
1926 First liquid-fuel rocket launched by Goddard
1927 Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is established
1927 Matter is proved to be wave-like, confirming earlier observations
1927 In the US, electric cables designed to carry over 130,000 volts are laid
1927 Philo Farnsworth transmits the first television picture
1927 Quartz clock invented by Waren Marrison
1927 Invention of technicolour
1927 First aerosol can patented by Erik Rotheim
1927 The first cinema "talkie" (film with sound), the Jazz Singer, released
1928 John Logie Baird uses wireless methods to transmit a picture across the Atlantic
1928 Raman scattering discovered
1928 Paul Dirac proposes the existence of antiparticles
1928 Morrison and Horton develop quartz crystal oscillator clock
1928 Philo Farnsworth develops the first working television sets
1929 Van de Graaff developed the electrostatic particle accelerator
1929 Frank Whittle invented jet propulsion
1929 Car radio developed and introduced by Paul Galvin
1931 Pauli proposes the existence of the neutrino
1932 Carl Anderson discovers the positron, the electron antiparticle
1932 Cockroft and Walton use a particle accelerator to split the atom
1932 Neutron discovered by James Chadwick
1932 Urey discovers deuterium
1932 Invention of the cyclotron particle accelerator by Stanley Livingstone and Ernest Lawrence
1932 Edwin Hand develops polaroid photography
1933 Ruska builds the first electron microscope
1933 Invention of frequency modulation (FM) by Edwin Howard Armstrong
1934 Tritium discovered by Oliphant
1934 Wigner and Seitz use quantum methods to calculate the energy of electrons in a metal
1934 Coiled-coil electric light bulb invented; this increases the amount of radiated light
1934 Electronic hearing aid developed
1934 A large step in improving transport safety is made as Percy Shaw invents cats eyes (reflectors to be embedded in the road)
1934 Begun invents the magnetic tape recorder
1935 Japanese physicist Hideki Yukawa predicts the existence of mesons
1935 First fluorescent lights produced in the US by the General Electric Corporation
1936 A concert conducted by Thomas Beecham is recorded onto magnetic tape
1936 First regular television broadcasts made in UK
1936 Kodachrome colour film developed
1937 The Nobel Institute of Physics is established in Stockholm
1937 The muon elementary particle is discovered by Carl Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer
1937 Invention of Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging)
1937 Field-emission microscope invented by Muller
1937 Invention of the jet engine by Frank Whittle
1937 Hand-held vacuum cleaner introduced
1937 Chester Carlson invens a photocopying device
1937 First artificial element, technetium, created by scientists who bombard molybdenum with atomic particles
1938 Hahn and Strassmann discover nuclear fission
1938 Compton demonstrated that cosmic radiation consists of charged particles
1939 The muon, an elementary particle, is discovered by Anderson
1939 Researchers at Iowa State University develop the first prototype computer; development is abandoned following the outbreak of WW2
1939 Regular television broadcasts start in the US
1939 First working helicopter constructed by Sikorsky
1940 Peter Goldmark develops modern colour television
1941 The Z3 computer is developed, the first machine to be controlled by software
1941 Fermi builds the first neutronic reactor
1941 Wartime sees establishment of pulsed radar network in UK
1942 The first controlled nuclear chain reaction is performed at a squash court at the University of Chicago by Enrico Fermi
1942 Manhattan Project is formed by leading scientists and Allied governments to build an atomic bomb
1942 First digital computer is built by Atanasoff and Berry
1942 Germans Braun and Dornberger launch the prototype V2 rocket
1943 The world's first operational nuclear reactor is activated at Oak Ridge, Tennessee
1943 Slinky toy invented by Richard James; this simple device demonstrates physics laws and properties, such as waveforms and motion
1943 Jacques Cousteau invents the aqualung, an underwater breathing device
1944 A major medical development, as Willem Kolff invents the kidney dialysis machine
1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed using the first (and only existing!) nuclear fission bombs
1946 The first synchrocyclotron is built at Berkeley
1946 ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first electronic digital calculator, launched
1946 US Atomic Energy Act (AEA) is passed, and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) formed to replace Manhattan Project
1946 Percy Spencer invents the microwave
1946 Purcell and Bloch develop nuclear magnetic resonance
1947 Germanium transistor invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley
1947 Barium titanate becomes the first piezoelectric ceramic to be used commercially in its application as a phonograph needle
1947 Cecil Powell discovers the pion (pi meson) particle
1947 Edwin Land invents instant photography
1947 AT&T develop the first mobile phone; it takes another 36 years for them to be released commercially
1947 First aircraft breaks the sound barrier - the Chuck Yeager-piloted Bell X-1
1948 Quantum electrodynamics (QED) developed by Tomonaga, Schwinger and Feynman
1949 Mayer and Jensen model the atomic nucleus
1949 Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb
1949 Atomic clock devised by Harold Lyons
1950 United States National Science Foundation (NSF) founded
1950 Breakthrough in plasma physics, as Alfven publishes results of his studies in this area
1951 Using a field ion microscope, scientists are able to observe single atoms for the first time
1951 Colour television pictures are first transmitted
1951 Charles Ginsburg developed the first videotape recorder
1952 Development and explosion of the world's first thermonuclear device - the "H bomb"
1952 Charles Townes and Russian scientists Prokhorov and Basov independently invent the maser, the forerunner to the laser
1952 British test their first atomic bomb in an explosion off the Australian coast
1953 Microwave ovens first produced by the Raytheon Corporation
1953 First musical synthesiser invented by RCA
1954 CERN (Centre Europeen de Recherche Nucleaire) founded
1954 Bell Laboratories develop silicon solar cells, with a 6% efficiency
1954 Development of prototype fibre optic technology, the "imaging bundles"
1954 The Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, is built
1954 Invention of the transistor radio, which gains widespread usage in a very short time
1955 Cowan and Reines discover the neutrino
1955 Nuclear power becomes the primary energy source in Arc, Idaho, US
1956 Development of fibre optics concluded in this year after two years' work
1956 Calder Hall, Cumbria, UK, is the site of the world's first large-scale nuclear power station
1957 The law of conservation of parity is partially overturned
1957 After decades of research, an explanation for superconductivity is finally reached
1957 Formation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
1957 Female physicist Chien Shiung Wu disproves the law of conservation of parity, a fundamental physics assumption
1957 Russians launch first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) rocket
1958 Kilby and Noyce develop the integrated circuit, the cornerstone of the modern electronics industry
1958 Quantum tunnelling techniques are introduced into commercial devices
1958 James Van Allen discovers a belt of radiation around the Earth
1958 First practical technology and application of ultrasound proposed by Scotsman Ian Donald
1958 Chester Carlson demonstrates the first small-scale photocopying machine
1960 Mossbauer Effect discovered
1960 Theodore Maiman develops the first laser using a ruby cylinder
1961 Ginzburg suggested that a black hole at he centre of a galaxy could provide the power to fuel strong radio sources
1961 Stereo FM radio broadcast for the first time
1962 The first semiconductor lasers are built
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis threatens to start nuclear war between US and Soviet Union; disaster is averted
1962 Satellite broadcasting from the Telstar I craft allows the first transatlantic television transmission
1962 First computer game devised; "Spacewar"
1963 Superpowers sign Limited Test Ban Treaty to prevent testing of nuclear weapons in space, underwater or in the atmosphere
1963 Maria Goeppert-Mayer becomes the second woman to be awarded a physics Nobel Prize (Marie Curie was the first)
1964 Gell-Mann and Zweig discover the quark
1964 First hologram produced by Leith and Upatnieks
1964 Invention of the carbon dioxide laser
1964 Emerging computer giant IBM develop the first mass-produced operating system for the computer, OS/360
1965 First commercial scanning electron microscope is produced by Cambridge Instruments
1966 Invention of the organic dye laser
1967 The "electroweak" theory is created to unite separate nuclear and electromagnetic forces
1967 In a bid to improve vehicle safety, Pontiac develop bumpers which partically absorb the energy of a collision
1967 International unit of time formally defined as the natural frequency of a cesium atom
1967 Texas Instruments devise and market the first hand held calculator
1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) signed to prevent widespread production of nuclear weapons
1969 Hoff develops the microprocessor
1969 ARPANET, the first computer network, is set up
1969 Astronomy and Astrophysics journal launched
1970 Penrose and Hawking prove that the Universe must have had an originating point of time
1971 Ramond, Schwarz and Neveu develop a theory which becomes known as the "Grand Unified Theory" (GUT)
1972 John Bardeen is awarded the physics Nobel Prize for the second time, the only dual physics recipient to date
1972 On January 1st, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was adopted worldwide
1972 Kodak launch the instant colour camera
1973 Lauterbur invents magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Damadian develops first MRI scanner for medical use
1973 Tappert and Hasegawa propose the use of optical fibres to transmit information via single waves
1974 Barcodes, scanned using lasers, are placed on shopping products for the first time
1975 Discovery of the tau lepton, an elementary particle which exists for a fraction of a billionth of a second, by Martin Perl
1975 Formation of Microsoft computer software company by Bill Gates and Paul Allen
1975 First digital recording equipment introduced
1975 Altair 8800 personal computer is made available
1976 Cray-1 supercomputer developed for rapid computation of mathematical and scientific problems
1976 Cosmic string theory developed
1976 Concorde, the first commercial supersonic aircraft, is launched to the public
1977 Transmission of television signals using optical fibres is achieved
1977 The Apple II personal computer is launched
1977 VHS format video recorder developed
1979 Cronin and Fitch discover asymmetry of elementary particles
1979 Near-disaster at Three Mile Island as nuclear reactor suffers partial meltdown; minimal radioactivity is released
1979 US and Russia sign SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) to restrict future development of nuclear weapons
1980 Sony and Phillips invent the compact disc (CD)
1981 Rohrer and Binnig invent the scanning tunnelling microscope
1981 Synchrotron light source at Daresbury becomes operational, producing X-rays for structural analysis
1981 IBM release their first personal computer, complete with a Microsoft operating system
1983 Research at CERN shows evidence of "weakons" (W and Z particles); this validates the link between weak nuclear force and electromagnetic force
1983 US starts plans for Star Wars Strategic Defence Initiative, a space-based nuclear defence system
1983 First compact disc (CD) player launched by Sony and Phillips
1984 Apple Macintosh computer launched
1984 Compact disc players and CD-ROM systems become available
1985 The atomic force microscope, able to identify individual atoms, is invented by Binning
1985 Lasers first used in surgery
1986 First high-temperature superconductor discovered
1986 First use of the world "Internet"
1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor diaster, in which vast amounts of radioactive material are released into the atmosphere
1986 Fuji develop and market the first disposable camera for photography
1987 Positron microscope invented by van House and Rich
1987 Invention of disposable contact lenses
1988 Stephen Hawking publishes "A Brief History of Time", bringing complex theories on astrophysics, astronomy and cosmology to the masses
1988 Doppler radar invented
1989 The Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider comes into operation at CERN. This is a particle accelerator with a diameter of almost 17 miles
1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web
1991 LEP experiments confirm the existence of 3 generations of elementary particles
1992 Development of material that becomes superconducting at -103C, 45C higher than the previous highest
1992 CERN release their hypertext for physics system, the beginning of the World Wide Web
1993 Fermilab in Chicago discovers the "top quark", first predicted in 1984
1993 Development of the Mosaic browser system as a graphical interface to the World Wide Web
1994 Use of silicon technology in optoelectric devices
1994 UK's first pressurised water reactor opens as Sizewell B, Suffolk
1995 First gaseous Bose-Einstein condensates are generated by Cornell and Wieman
1996 First Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) players launched in Japan
1997 First direct evidence of the "tau neutrino" published
1997 MIT develop electronic ink for printing
1999 Invention of "Tekno Bubbles", liquid bubbles which glow in the dark
2000 World's first commercial wave power station opens at Islay, Scotland
2000 A trio of blind patients receive the world's first "bionic eyes", comprising 3,500 microscopic solar cells which act to convert light into electrical impulses
2003 Canadian scientists discover a new way to produce electricity from flowing water
2003 Japanese scientists develop an optical camouflage system which may be in production by 2008
2003 Researchers at Sussex University, UK, given 2.3 million pound grant to try and determine why matter exists!