A Science Odyssey Then + Now header

Non-tabled version of Then + Now

A Science Odyssey takes you on a journey through the most spectacular 100 years in the history of science and technology. Here's an overview of how our understanding has grown from 1900 to today. Click each topic for greater detail and links that trace our journey from then to now!

Matters of Life and Death; Medicine and Health

1900: Patients battle illness, while doctors can do little more than counsel and comfort them and keep them clean.

Today: Doctors treat and often cure patients with a vast array of medicines and medical technologies, but some diseases are still incurable.

Mysteries of the Universe; Physics and Astronomy

1900: The Milky Way galaxy (including some unexplained nebular clouds) is the known universe. Newton's laws explain the physical world. Matter is composed of atoms.

Today: The Milky Way is just one galaxy among countless millions we have observed in the universe. There is no set of laws that explains all phenomena in the physical world, although there are many theories. Atoms are composed of many subatomic particles, all of which derive from energy.

In Search of Ourselves; Human Behavior

1900: There is no cure for the mentally ill, who are confined to insane asylums. "Mind" and "body" are thought of as two separate things.

Today: Mental illness can be treated with a range of therapies and medications. We know a great deal about the chemistry and the parts of the brain that control our behavior and thoughts.

Bigger, Better, Faster; Technology

1900: The only way to view the Olympic games in Paris is in person. News about the games travels to America via telegraph and is printed in newspapers.

Today: Millions worldwide will watch the 2000 Sydney Olympics on television, transmitted instantaneously by satellite. The news will spread as well by radio, newspaper, and the World Wide Web.

Origins; Earth and Life Sciences

1900: There is no good explanation for catastrophic events such as earthquakes. The Earth is thought to be a mere 50 million years old, and the evolution of species is hotly debated.

Today: The plates that make up the Earth's crust move over time, causing earthquakes and volcanoes. The earth is known to be 4,500 million years old. The genetic code of DNA, which drives evolution, is better understood every day.

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