Amazing Kids! Magazine

Top Ten Fabulous Finds throughout History and Their Fun Facts

By Ryan Traynor, Contributing Writer


I wanted to think outside the box when I wrote an article about “Fabulous Finds throughout History that Made an Impact.” Therefore, I decided to research discoveries in the past that had interesting stories associated with them.  Here are the ones that made my “Top Ten” list:

  1. Electricity: There is much debate about who discovered electricity. First, in 1821 Michael Faraday is said to discover that when you place a wire carrying an electric current next to a single magnetic pole, the wire will rotate. This led to the development of the electric motor. In 1831, he produced an electric current by moving a wire through a magnetic field, creating the first generator.  In 1850, Joseph W. Swan began working on a light bulb using carbonized paper filaments. By 1860, Swan obtained a UK patent covering a partial vacuum, the carbon filament incandescent lamp. In 1878, both Thomas Edison and Edward Weston started their own Electric Lighting Companies. In 1878, Joseph Swan received the first light bulb patent in the UK and by the next year was installing them in homes and landmarks in England.  In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first practical light bulb and received the patent in the US in January of 1880. Thomas Edison is largely credited to being the only inventor of the light bulb. Do you think he should be?
  2. The Copernicum System:  In 1543, a Polish astronomer named Nicholas Copernicus revealed his theory that the sun is a motionless body at the center of the solar system, and planets revolve around it. Before this, astronomers believed the Earth was the center of the universe. Copernicus did not reveal this until he was on his deathbed because he knew it was so controversial.
  3. Penicillin: In 1928, Alexander Fleming was working in his lab when he let mold and fungi grow in his lab. He observed that the mold was destroying the bacteria. This led to the discovery of penicillin. Without antibiotics, many infections would be deadly.
  4. Currency: Before national currencies were accepted, people had to use barter to exchange goods. This did not make for an efficient transfer of goods. International acceptance of currencies allows entire countries to exchange their goods throughout the world. It also allows countries to borrow and lend money to each other to allow them to focus on longer term goals. The paper used for the American paper money is composed of linen and several types of cotton (including denim), giving it a fabric-like feel and durability. The dollar sign is a combination of the letters P and S.  PS was the abbreviation of pesos, the principal coin in circulation in the United States until 1794 when the dollar was introduced.
  5. The Rosetta Stone: The Rosetta Stone is a black basalt stone slab that bears makings that date back to 196 BC. This stone allowed scholars to understand three languages more clearly because the same passage was engraved in the stone in three different languages. This allowed Egyptologists to translate the entire Ancient Egyptian language from its engravings.
  6. Peking Man: In 1927 Davidson Black discovered the Peking Man (or Beijing Man) in a cave in Zhoukoudian, China. Research showed that Peking man stood erect, made stone tools, understood how to use fire, and had a heavy brow ridge and large teeth. Before this, many scientists believed that Java Man was a deformed ape. With the addition of Peking Man, they were able to group these discoveries into stages of evolution, filling the evolutionary picture. Interestingly enough, the original fossils disappeared in 1941 as they were being shipped to the United States during WWII and have not yet been found. Luckily, other Peking Man fossils have been found at sites in China.
  7. Pompeii: Vesuvius was a volcano that erupted in AD 79, covering an entire Roman city in volcanic material within minutes. The lava preserved a city with thousands of objects, allowing us to see a large, detailed record of life in a Roman city.
  8. The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Dead Sea Scrolls, considered to be the greatest manuscript find of all time, are a collection of ancient, mainly Hebrew manuscripts that were found on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. They are believed to be the library of a Jewish Sect from 66-70 AD. They prove that Christianity was rooted in Judaism and give us a look into Jewish life at the time.
  9. The largest gold nugget ever found – the ‘Welcome Stranger’ nugget: Gold has been and continues to be a major part of Australia’s development. On February 5, 1869 two miners named John Deason and Richard Oates discovered the nugget 3 cm below the surface of a small town’s mine. The ounce rating was 2,284 troy ounces (71.01 kilograms). It measured 60 by 30 centimeters and couldn’t be weighed in the district as there weren’t scales large enough.
  10. Peanut Butter:  Every kid will agree that peanut butter is one of the greatest inventions in history. Right? Peanut butter was invented by a St. Louis doctor named Ambrose Straub who invented a “healthy” treat that was high in protein and easily digestible so that his elderly, sometimes toothless patients could have a balanced diet. Did you also know that there are 1218 peanuts in a single 28 ounce jar of Jif peanut butter? The high protein in the peanut butter draws the moisture away from the roof of your mouth, which is why it sometimes sticks there.

I hope you enjoyed my list of “finds or discoveries from history.” It is a mixed bag of science, inventions and history, but the stories associated with them are very interesting!