List of experiments


List of experiments

:"See also: timeline of scientific experiments and list of famous discoveries"

The following is a list of historically important scientific experiments. A historic scientific experiment is one which demonstrates something of great scientific interest, typically in an elegant or clever manner.

Astronomy

* Eratosthenes measures the earth's circumference (240 BC)
* Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī conducts the first elaborate experiments related to astronomical phenomena (c. 1020)
* Galileo Galilei uses a telescope to observe that the moons of Jupiter appear to circle Jupiter. This evidence supports the heliocentric model, and weakens the geocentric model of the cosmos (1609)
* Ole Rømer makes the first quantitative estimate of the speed of light in 1676 by timing the motions of Jupiter's satellite Io with a telescope
* Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detect the cosmic microwave background radiation, giving support to the theory of the Big Bang (1964)
* Kerim Kerimov launches the Cosmos 186 and Cosmos 188 as experiments on automatic docking eventually leading to the development of space stations (1967)
* The Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-z Supernova Search Team discover, by observing Type Ia supernovae, that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating (1998)

Biology

* Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) introduces controlled experiment into the field of medicine and carried out the first medical experiment in order to find the most hygienic place to build a hospital (10th century)
* Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi proves both Galen's theory of humorism and Aristotle's theory of classical elements false using experiments described in his "Doubts about Galen" (10th century)
* Avicenna (Ibn Sina) introduces experimentation and quantification into the study of medicine and physiology, including the introduction of experimental medicine and clinical trials, in "The Canon of Medicine" (c. 1020)
* Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) was the first physician known to have made human postmortem dissections and autopsies. He proved that the skin disease scabies was caused by a parasite, a discovery which upset the Hippocratic and Galenic theory of humorism (12th century)
* Abd-el-latif observed and examined a large number of skeletons, and he discovered that Galen was incorrect regarding the formation of the bones of the lower jaw and sacrum (1200)
* Ibn al-Nafis carried out autopsies which led him to the discovery of pulmonary circulation and the circulatory system (1242)
* Robert Hooke, using a microscope, observes cells (1665)
* Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovers microorganisms (1674-1676)
* James Lind, publishes 'A Treatise of the Scurvy' which describes a controlled ship board experiment using two identical populations but with only one variable, the consumption of citrus fruit. (1753)
* Edward Jenner tests his hypothesis for the protective action of mild cowpox infection for smallpox, the first vaccine (1796)
* Gregor Mendel's experiments with the garden pea led him to surmise many of the fundamental laws of genetics (dominant vs recessive genes, the 1-2-1 ratio, see Mendelian inheritance) (1856-1863)
* Louis Pasteur uses S-shaped flasks to prevent spores from contaminating broth. Disproves the theory of Spontaneous generation (also known as abiogenesis). (1861) An extension of the rancid meat experiment of Francesco Redi to the micro scale.
*Charles Darwin and his son Francis, using dark-grown oat seedlings, discover the stimulus for phototropism is detected at the tip of the shoot (the coleoptile tip), but the bending takes place in the region below the tip (1880).
*Alexander Fleming demonstrates that the zone of inhibition around a growth of penicillin mould on a culture dish of bacteria is caused by a diffusible substance secreted by the mould. (1928)
* Frederick Griffith demonstrates (Griffith's experiment) that living cells can be transformed via a transforming principle, later discovered to be DNA (1928)
* Karl von Frisch decodes the waggle dance honey bees use to communicate the location of flowers (1940)
* George Wells Beadle and Edward Lawrie Tatum prove the "one gene, one enzyme" hypothesis using induced mutations in bread mold, Neurospora crassa (1941)
* Luria-Delbrück experiment demonstrates that in bacteria, beneficial mutations arise in the absence of selection, rather than being a response to selection. (1943)
* Barbara McClintock breeds maize plants for color, which leads to the discovery of transposable elements or jumping genes. (1944)
* Linus Pauling and colleagues show that a human genetic disease, sickle cell anemia, is caused by a molecular change in a specific protein, hemoglobin. (1949)
* Hershey-Chase experiment (by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase) uses bacteriophage to prove that DNA is the hereditary material (1952)
* Miller-Urey experiment demonstrates that organic compounds can arise spontaneously from inorganic ones (1953)
* Meselson-Stahl experiment proves that DNA replication is semiconservative (1958)
* Crick, Brenner et al. experiment using frameshift mutations to support the triplet nature of the genetic code (1961)
* Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment with "in vitro" protein synthesis using synthetic RNA as to substitute for messenger RNA (1961).
* John Gurdon clones an animal, a frog tadpole, from an egg cell using the nucleus from an intestinal cell (1962).
* Roger W. Sperry shows the potential independence of the two sides of the human brain using "split-brain" patients (1962-1965)
* Nirenberg and Leder experiment, binding tRNA to ribosomes with synthetic RNA to decipher the genetic code (1964)
* Demonstration of the role of reverse transcriptases in tumor viruses, independently by Howard Temin and David Baltimore, 1970
* Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen selectively clone genes in bacteria, using bacterial plasmids cut by specific endonucleases (1975).
* Mary-Dell Chilton shows that crown gall tumors of plants are caused by the transfer of a small piece of DNA from the bacterium, "Agrobacterium tumefaciens", into the host plant, where it becomes part of its genome (1977).
* Napoli, Lemieux and Jorgensen discover the principle of RNA interference (1990)

Chemistry

*Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan) introduces the experimental method and controlled experiment in chemistry (8th century)
*Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) proves both Aristotle's theory of classical elements and Galen's theory of humorism false using experiments described in his "Doubts about Galen" (10th century)
*Blaise Pascal carries a barometer up a church tower and a mountain to determine that atmospheric pressure is due to a column of air (1648).
*Robert Boyle uses an air pump to determine the inverse relationship between the pressure and volume of a gas. This relationship came to be known as Boyle's law (1660-1662).
*Joseph Priestley suspends a bowl of water above a beer vat at a brewery and synthesizes carbonated water (1767).
*Antoine Lavoisier determines that oxygen combines with materials upon combustion, thus disproving phlogiston theory (1783).
*Antoine Lavoisier determines that chemical reactions in a closed container do not alter total mass. From these observations he establishes the law of conservation of mass (1789).
*Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford demonstrates that the heat developed by the friction of boring cannon is nearly inexhaustible. This result was presented in opposition to caloric theory (1798).
*Humphry Davy uses electrolysis to isolate elemental potassium, sodium, calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium, and chlorine (1807-1810).
*Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac studies reactions among gases and determines that their volumes combine chemically in simple integer ratios (1809).
*Robert Brown studies very small particles in water under the microscope and observes Brownian motion which was later named in his honor (1827).
*Friedrich Wöhler synthesizes the organic compound urea using inorganic reactants, disproving the application of vitalism to chemical processes (1828).
*Thomas Graham measures the rates of effusion for different gases and establishes Graham's law of effusion and diffusion (1833).
*Julius Robert von Mayer and James Prescott Joule measure the heat generated by mechanical work. This establishes the principle of conservation of energy and the kinetic theory of heat (1842-1843).
*Louis Pasteur separates a racemic mixture of two enantiomers by sorting individual crystals, and demonstrates their impact on the polarization of light (1849).
*Anders Jonas Ångström observes the presence of hydrogen and other elements in the spectrum of the sun (1862).
*François-Marie Raoult demonstrates that the decrease in the vapor pressure and freezing point of liquids caused by the addition of solutes is proportional to the number of solute molecules present. This establishes the concept of colligative properties (1878).
*Svante Arrhenius studies the conductivity of salt solutions and determines that salts dissociate into ions in water. (1884)
*Svante Arrhenius determines the impact of temperature on reaction rates and formulates the concept of activation energy. (1889)
*William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh (John Strutt) isolate the noble gases (1894-1898).
*Henri Becquerel, Marie Curie, and Pierre Curie discover radioactivity and describe its properties. (1896)
*Mikhail Tsvet (Mikhail Semyonovich Tsvet) separates chlorophyll from other plant pigments using chromatography (1901).
*Frederick Soddy and William Ramsay observe the production of helium (from alpha particles during radioactive decay (1903).
*Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann observe nuclear fission (1938).
*Glenn Theodore Seaborg creates and isolates five transuranium elements. He reorganizes the periodic table to its current form. (1941-1950).
*Melvin Calvin and Andrew Benson delineate the path of carbon in photosynthesis using "Chlorella" and carbon dioxide labeled with carbon-14 (14CO2) (1945) - (1954).
*Erwin Chargaff disproves the "tetranucleoide theory" of DNA structure and determines that the composition of double-stranded DNA follows the rule, %A = %T and %G = %C (Chargaff's rule). This discovery was critical to the formulation of the Watson-Crick Model of DNA structure.
*Neil Bartlett mixes xenon and platinum hexafluoride leading to the first synthesis of a noble gas compound, xenon hexafluoroplatinate (1962).
*Robert Burns Woodward announces the total synthesis of Vitamin B-12 by a team he led (1973). Insights from this work lead him and Roald Hoffmann to formulate the Woodward-Hoffmann rules for elucidating the stereochemistry of the products of organic reactions.
*Frederick Sanger demonstrates the dideoxy- or chain termination method for determining DNA sequences 1975.
*Kary Mullis demonstrates the polymerase chain reaction, a method for amplifying specific bits of DNA (1983).

Physics

*Eratosthenes evaluates the diameter of the Earth by comparing the length of the shortest shadow of the day with the distance between that location and a place where the sun shines to the bottom of the well at midday (240 BC)
*Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) pioneers the experimental scientific method and experimental physics, and devises the first scientific experiments on optics and physics in his "Book of Optics" (1021), including the first use of the camera obscura to prove that light travels in straight lines and the first experimental proof that visual perception is caused by light rays travelling to the eyes
*Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī introduces the experimental method into astronomy and mechanics (11th century)
*Al-Khazini makes extensive use of the experimental method to prove his theories on mechanics in "The Book of the Balance of Wisdom" (1121)
*Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī provides the first correct explanation of the rainbow phenomenon and uses the experimental method to prove his theory (13th century)
*Galileo Galilei uses rolling balls to disprove the Aristotelian theory of motion (1602 - 1607)
*Henry Cavendish's torsion bar experiment (1798)
*Thomas Young's double-slit experiment (c. 1805)
*Hans Christian Ørsted discovers the connection of electricity and magnetism by experiments involving a compass and electric circuits (1820)
*James Prescott Joule demonstrates the mechanical equivalent of heat, an important step in the development of thermodynamics. (1834)
*Christian Doppler arranges to have trumpets played from a passing train. The ground-observed pitch was higher than that played when the train was approaching then lower than that played as the train passed and moved away, demonstrating the Doppler effect (1845)
*Léon Foucault's namesake Foucault pendulum is first exhibited. It demonstrates the Coriolis effect and the rotation of the Earth (1851)
*Edwin Hall discovers a voltage across a conductor with a transverse applied magnetic field, the Hall effect 1879
*Michelson-Morley experiment exposes weaknesses of the prevailing variant of the theory of luminiferous aether. (1887)
*Guglielmo Marconi demonstrates that radio signals can travel between two points separated by an obstacle. Marconi's servant is behind a hill 3 kilometers away and fires his rifle upon receiving the signals (1895).
*J. J. Thomson's cathode ray tube experiments (discovers the electron and its negative charge) (1897)
*Roland von Eötvös publishes the result of the second series of experiments, clearly demonstrating that inertial and gravitational mass are one and the same. (1909)
*Robert Millikan's oil-drop experiment, which suggests that electric charge occurs as "quanta" (whole units), (1909)
*Heike Kamerlingh Onnes demonstrates superconductivity (1911)
*Ernest Rutherford's gold foil experiment demonstrated that the positive charge and mass of an atom is concentrated in a small, central atomic nucleus, disproving the then-popular plum pudding model of the atom (1911)
*Arthur Eddington [http://www.firstscience.com/site/articles/coles.asp leads an expedition] to the island of Principe to observe a total solar eclipse (gravitational lensing). This allows for an observation of the bending of starlight under gravity, a prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. It was confirmed (although it was later shown that the margin of error was as great as the observed bending) (1919)
*Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach conduct the Stern-Gerlach experiment, which demonstrates particle spin (1920)
*Enrico Fermi splits the atom (1934, although the results were not fully understood until 1939, by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann)
*Enrico Fermi builds the first critical nuclear reactor (1942)
*The Manhattan Project A team of scientists led by J. Robert Oppenheimer developed the atomic bomb in New Mexico. (1945)
*John Bardeen and Walter Brattain fabricate the first working transistor (1947)
*Clyde L. Cowan and Frederick Reines confirm the existence of the neutrino in the neutrino experiment (1955)
*The Scout rocket experiment confirms the time dilation effect of gravity. (1976)
*Alain Aspect performs the Bell test experiments in the 1980s.
*Eric A. Cornell and Carl E. Wieman synthesize Bose-Einstein condensate at the University of Colorado at Boulder (1995)
*Cockcroft-Walton generator

Psychology

* Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) pioneers experimental psychology and psychophysics in his "Book of Optics" (1021)
* Ivan Pavlov's experiments with dogs and classical conditioning (1900s)
* John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner conduct the Little Albert experiment showing evidence of classical conditioning (1920)
* Solomon Asch's conformity experiments shows how group pressure can persuade an individual to conform to an obviously wrong opinion (1951)
* B.F. Skinner's demonstrations of operant conditioning (1930s - 1960s)
* Harry Harlow's experiments with baby monkeys and wire and cloth surrogate mothers (1957-1974)
* Stanley Milgram's experiments on human obedience (1963)
* Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment (1971)
* Allan and Beatrice Gardner' attempts to teach American Sign Language to the chimpanzee Washoe (1970s)
* Martin Seligman studies learned helplessness in dogs (1970s)
* Rosenhan experiment (1972)
* Kansas City preventive patrol experiment (1972-1973)
* Elizabeth Loftus' and John C. Palmer's car crash experiment shows that leading questions can produce false memories (1974)

Economics and Political Science

* The experiments of Muhammad Yunus on the applications of microcredit and microfinance in rural Bangladesh (1971)
* Robert Axelrod's prisoner's dilemma computer tournaments, later documented in "The Evolution of Cooperation" (1984)


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