Great 20th-Century Achievements

The 20th century was a time of many positive events, discoveries, and achievements. This selection can stimulate discussion about what makes something historic or world-changing and which contemporary events might qualify for a similar list in the future.

1. Computer revolution – The computer revolution, sometimes called the information revolution, resolved an age-old search by humankind to invent a machine that could perform mathematical and logical computations in order to help people solve complex problems.

2. Apollo 11 – Apollo 11 was the first successful space mission involving a manned landing on the moon.

3. DNA – Found in the cells of all living things, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a chemical substance that contains hereditary information.

4. electricity – Though the techniques of generating and using electricity were developed during the 19th century, its use made the 20th century one of astounding technological innovation.

5. television – A television is an electronic device that transmits pictures and sound as electrical waves from one system to another.

6. Human Genome Project – The Human Genome Project is an international research project that officially began in 1990 to undertake over a 15-year period the worldwide mapping of the genes that constitute human DNA.

7. World Wide Web – The World Wide Web is the service that allows users of the Internet to retrieve information. Through the use of hyperlinks, users have access to the millions of documents stored on the Internet’s servers.

8. Wright Brothers: first flight – The Wright Brothers’ first flight, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.

9. Moon landing: Buzz Aldrin – Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands beside a deployed U.S. flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission of 1969.

10. Polio vaccine – School girl receives the Salk polio vaccine.

Learn more about these events using the library’s online resources such as U.S. History in Context or Science in Context.


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