Humans

These are the biggest scientific discoveries in every US state


The US has a long history of scientific discoveries.

From the invention of the steam-powered boat engine in the 18th century to the sequencing of the human genome at the turn of the 21st, each state can claim its own scientific advancements.

 

To celebrate those achievements, we’ve compiled a list of important science discoveries in every state. Scroll through to find out more.

ALABAMA: The first rocket to send Americans to the Moon was built in this state.

The Saturn V rocket that sent the first Americans to the Moon in 1969 was primarily designed and built at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The rocket was used to ferry astronauts on all 13 Apollo missions between 1967 and 1973.

ALASKA: Palaeontologists spotted a T Rex subspecies.

new T Rex subspecies was discovered in 2014 on the Pine Creek Formation of Alaska by palaeontologists Anthony Fiorillo and Ronald Tykoski. They named it Nanuqsaurus hoglundi

 

ARIZONA: Clyde Tombaugh picked Pluto out of the sky.

In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh, a young astronomer at Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto, which was our Solar System’s ninth planet before it was demoted to a ‘dwarf planet’.

And in 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto for the first time.

ARKANSAS: Largest diamond in North America was found in this state.

The “Uncle Sam Diamond” is the largest diamond ever discovered in North America, and it was found in Crater of Diamonds State Park in 1924.

According to legend, the 12.42-carat gem was named after W.O. Basham, who went by the nickname “Uncle Sam”. 

 

CALIFORNIA: Edwin Hubble showed that the Universe is expanding.

In the 1920s, while working at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the Universe consists of more than just our galaxy and is expanding, which provided the basis for the Big Bang Theory. 

COLORADO: Teenagers discovered a rare mastodon.

In 2009, two teenagers – Jake Carstensen and Tyler Kellett – discovered the fossilised mandible and tusk of a rare mastodon

The mastodon, which is a distant relative of the elephant, could be 50,000 to 150,000 years old.

CONNECTICUT: Physicists discovered the concept of chemical potential.

The mathematical physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs discovered chemical potential (the energy that fuels chemical reactions) during his tenure at Yale University.

He also introduced the concept of free energy, the tendency of a physical or chemical system to lower its energy and increase its disorder. 

Einstein called him “the greatest mind in American history”, and his contributions are regarded as building blocks of the fields of thermodynamics and vector analysis. 

DELAWARE: DuPont created new polymers like nylon and Teflon.

The American chemical company DuPont was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill in Wilmington, Delaware.

In the 20th century, DuPont developed many polymers such as neoprene (the rubber used in wetsuits), nylon (a material found in everything from clothing to car parts), and Teflon (the coating on nonstick pans like this one).

FLORIDA: The state was home of the great phosphate boom.

In 1889, Albertus Vogt discovered phosphate in Dunnellon, Florida, while he was digging a well. Phosphate was mainly used as a fertiliser, so once discovered, prospectors flocked to the area

GEORGIA: Surgeons started using ether as an anesthetic.

Crawford Long used ether as an anaesthetic for the first time on March 30, 1842 to remove a tumor from the neck of a patient in Jefferson, Georgia. Long subsequently removed a second tumour from the patient and used ether as an anaesthetic in amputations and childbirth.

HAWAII: The Keck Observatory’s telescopes have been used for major discoveries about the Universe.

Three scientists won a Nobel Prize in 2011 for discovering that the Universe was expanding at an accelerating rate. The discovery relied in large part on spectroscopy using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii from 1995 to 1997. 

The Keck telescopes have also been instrumental in the discovery of exoplanets, and confirming the existence of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

IDAHO: Philo T. Farnsworth invented the predecessor to the modern TV.

Philo T. Farnsworth first invented what’s considered the direct ancestor to the modern television.

He first had the idea for a vacuum tube to be the first all-electric television in his high school chemistry class in Rigby, Idaho, and he later debuted it in a demonstration in San Francisco in 1927. 

ILLINOIS: Research supported Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Physicist Albert A. Michelson conducted highly precise optical experiments to measure the speed of light at the University of Chicago, providing support for Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Michelson became the first scientist from the United States to win the Nobel Prize in 1907.

INDIANA: A policeman invented the breathalyzer.

Robert F. Borkenstein, a member of the Indiana State Police, invented the breathalyser. The device measures alcohol levels in the blood, which makes it easier to enforce drunk driving laws. 

Before it was invented, police officers had to rely on vague symptoms, such as a flushed face, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes.

IOWA: An Iowa State professor discovered quasicrystals.

Dan Shechtman, an Iowa State professor of materials science and engineering, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 1982 discovery of quasicrystals – structures that are ordered, but never repeat themselves.

These materials were considered impossible, and forced scientists to change the way they saw matter.

KANSAS: Residents found a gas that doesn’t burn.

In May 1903, residents of Dexter, Kansas stumbled across a geyser of gas that didn’t burn. The gas was later found to contain a small percentage of helium, a colorless, inert gas that was considered rare on Earth but plentiful on the Sun.

The gas, which was unexpectedly found to be plentiful in the American Great Plains, is now used in everything from hot air balloons to coolant for scientific equipment.

KENTUCKY: The state was home to the invention of a wireless phone.

Nathan Stubblefield was one of the first people to discover the power of wireless.

The inventor, who lived his life in Kentucky, developed a wireless phone at the turn of the 20th century that used magnetic induction.

LOUISIANA: J. Lawrence Smith invented the inverted microscope.

In 1850, while he was a professor of chemistry at the University of Louisiana (known today as Tulane University), J. Lawrence Smith invented the inverted microscope

Inverted microscopes let in light from the top, which makes it easier to check out living cells. 

MAINE: A satellite transmitted a TV signal from Maine to France.

The first transatlantic television signal, called Telstar, was launched by NASA on July 10, 1962, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the first privately sponsored space-faring mission.

Two days later, it relayed the world’s first transatlantic television signal all the way from Maine, to Brittany, France. The picture was of an American flag. 

MARYLAND: The discovery of telomeres changed the way we look at DNA.

Nobel Prize winner of medicine and Johns Hopkins professor Carol Greider discovered that the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) are repeating blocks of DNA.

These repeating blocks are found in all organisms on the planet. Telomeres are a key part of chromosomes because they keep chromosomes from being recognized as damaged, which in turn keeps the chromosomes stable. 

MASSACHUSETTS: Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call.

Although Massachusetts has seen more than its fair share of major scientific discoveries, none would revolutionise the way the world is connected more than the invention of the telephone.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell documented the first successful experiment using the telephone in Boston and later received the first patent for the phone.

MICHIGAN: Researchers detected supermassive black holes.

Using the Hubble telescope, University of Michigan researchers discovered massive dark objects – most likely supermassive black holes – in the Andromeda galaxy, which is the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way.

The observation has been followed by the detection of more than 40 black holes. 

MINNESOTA: Doctors performed the first bone marrow transplant.

The first bone marrow transplant in the United States was done at the University of Minnesota in 1968 on a patient with severe combined immunodeficiency, more commonly known as “bubble boy disease”.

This disease puts patients at such severe risk for infection. Bone marrow transplants are now frequently used to treat certain kinds of cancers, particularly those of the blood, as well as conditions that affect bone marrow cells, such as sickle cell anemia.

MISSISSIPPI: Surgeons completed the world’s first human lung transplant.

In 1963, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first human lung transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Only one year later, in 1964, Hardy also performed the world’s first heart transplant surgery, using a chimpanzee’s heart, which paved the way for human-to-human heart transplantation.

MISSOURI: Researchers discovered the largest prime number.

The largest prime number (numbers that are only divisible by themselves and one) was discovered in Missouri.

The number, which was discovered in January 2016, is 22 million digits long, a full 5 million digits more than the last discovered prime number. 

MONTANA: Barnum Brown found the first ever T Rex.

In 1902, Barnum Brown found the first ever Tyrannosaurus rex. Brown found the partial skeleton in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation.

A few years later, he discovered an even more complete version, which would become the basis for recreations of the dinosaur.

NEBRASKA: Paleontologist located prehistoric cats who died in the middle of a fight.

Nebraska is full of archaeological sites. One in particular is home to two prehistoric cats, called Nimravids, that were found locked in battle by paleontologist Loren Eiseley.

The cats were considered “false sabertooths” and were common in North America. 

NEVADA: Scientists discovered a complete skeleton of the ancient marine reptile icthyosaur.

Nevada is home to a complete skeleton of an ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile from the Mesozoic era about 65 million to 248 million years ago.

You can check it out at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The first mechanical alarm clock was invented.

America’s first mechanical alarm clock was invented in New Hampshire by Levi Hutchens in 1787. The clock was a pine box with mechanical gears that, when wound up, hit a bell at a precise time. 

NEW JERSEY: W. Jason Morgan redefined how we look at plate tectonics.

W. Jason Morgan, a professor of geoscience at Princeton University, redefined the way we look at plate tectonics, or the theory that the Earth’s surface is made out of plates that shift around.

In 2002, Morgan was awarded The President’s National Medal of Science for his work, which “revolutionised our understanding of the geological forces that control the Earth’s crust and deep interior and consequently influence the evolution of the Earth’s life and climate.”

NEW MEXICO: The world entered the nuclear age with the detonation of the first atomic bomb.

The first atomic bomb went off as a test in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The successful test would propel the world into the nuclear age, and the atomic bomb would then go on to end World War II with the detonation of two atomic bombs in Japan.

NEW YORK: Geneticists confirmed the idea that we inherit traits from our chromosomes.

In 1910, Columbia University researcher Thomas Hunt Morgan confirmed the chromosomal theory of inheritance, which links specific traits to chromosomes.

One of his students was the first to make a genetic map from the research, which revolutionised the study of genetics. Morgan earned the Nobel Prize for his work in 1933.

NORTH CAROLINA: The first flight took off, lasting a total of 12 seconds.

The first flight took off from the Outer Banks of North Carolina on December 17, 1903, lasting a whole 12 seconds. Orville and Wilbur Wright had been working on building a flight concept since 1899.

By the end of the day, the plane went a total of 852 feet in almost a minute of air time.  

NORTH DAKOTA: Palaeontologists located the ‘Chicken from Hell.’

The Anzu wylieli, nicknamed the ‘Chicken from Hell,’ was one of the largest feathered dinosaurs found in North America.

They were found in both North and South Dakota, and they likely would have lived in the swampy coast of an inland sea, based on the rocks found nearby the fossils.

OHIO: The state was the birthplace of synthetic rubber.

Akron, Ohio is known as the rubber capital of the world because synthetic rubber was invented here. 

Charles Goodyear then used that synthetic rubber to make car tires starting in the 1940s. The invention shifted pressure off from the natural rubber industry, which at that point in time was facing shortages.

OKLAHOMA: A pilot invented a pressure suit that expanded the limits of air flight.

In 1934, pilot Wiley Post and engineer R.S. Colley teamed up to invent a pressurised suit designed for high altitude flight.

The suit allowed Post (pictured here) to explore up to 49,000 feet. The invention led to further high-altitude flight exploration, and was the precursor to the pressure suits worn by astronauts in outer space. 

OREGON: Cave explorers found an entirely new family of spiders.

Cave explorers stumbled upon a new family of spiders in the Pacific Northwest.

The Trogloraptor marchingtoni comes equipped with hooks that could be used to catch insects out of the air. 

PENNSYLVANIA: Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for Polio

Salk invented the polio vaccine while working at the University of Pittsburgh. The vaccine is now used worldwide, and the World Health Organization thinks the disease can be eradicated by April 2017.

The number of cases is down from 22,000 cases in 1952 in the US alone to just 96 cases worldwide in 2015.

Interestingly, Salk never patented the vaccine in the hopes that it could gain widespread use. 

RHODE ISLAND: Scientists spotted impact glass on Mars that could contain signs of life.

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is home to many discoveries, but by far one of the coolest in recent history was the discovery of glass in impact craters on the surface of Mars in 2015.

Scientists think the glass was formed through the immense heat of something slamming into the red planet. But, more interestingly, the researchers discovered that signs of life could be preserved in that glass. 

SOUTH CAROLINA: Scientists discovered the ‘ghost particle.’

Neutrinos, one of the most common particles in the universe that are almost impossible to detect, were first picked up at Savannah River Plant in South Carolina in 1956.

These particles have almost no mass and travel almost at the speed of light, which is why they are sometimes nicknamed “ghost particles”. These particles might hold the answer to why the universe contains matter.

SOUTH DAKOTA: The state was a prehistoric playground for fearsome dinosaurs.

South Dakota is a state filled with major prehistoric findings. It is home to the most-complete T. Rex skeleton ever uncovered, and more recently in 2015, scientists found a new raptor that they named after the state: Dakotaraptor steini

The raptor, which would have roamed South Dakota about 66 million years ago, is one of the largest that’s ever been found.

TENNESSEE: An element found in 1945 completed the periodic table of the time.

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory discovered Promethium in 1945.

The element, number 61 on the periodic table, was the final piece completing the table at the time. Over the past 70 years, the lab has been home to a number of scientific advances in nuclear energy and supercomputing. 

TEXAS: The state was the place where NASA led the mission to put a human on the moon.

NASA’s Johnson Center has seen its fair share of achievements as the mission control center and a lead on a number of space programs, including the Gemini and Apollo missions.

It’s where Neil Armstrong radioed back, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” confirming a lunar landing on July 20, 1969. 

UTAH: Scientists came across a dinosaur with a long nose.

Utah is home to major pre-historic findings. One of those led to the discovery of an unusually big-nosed, horned dinosaur called Nasutoceratops titusi

The plant-eater was a relative of the triceratops, and likely roamed around the area that’s now southern Utah about 66 million years ago.

VERMONT: Photos captured snowflakes on a microscopic level.

In the early 1900s, Wilson “Snowflake” Bently became one of the first photographers to catch images of snowflakes before they melted away.

Using microscopes and a type of macrophotography camera, he was able to capture some sharply focused images of flakes that were so good, nobody bothered to take any other close-ups of snowflakes for another 100 years

VIRGINIA: Scientists discovered an unexpected connection to the brain that will rewrite textbooks.

University of Virginia researcher Antoine Louveau was the first to find that the lymphatic system (the part of the circulatory system that carries immune cells around and empties the body of toxins) is actually connected to the brain.

That flew in the face of the idea that the brain was the only organ not connected to the lymphatic system. This finding could change the way we approach diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

WASHINGTON: The Heimlich Maneuver saved a person choking for the first time.

In 1974, Dr. Henry Heimlich documented a maneuver to clear up the airways of a choking person. About a week after he published his findings, the Heimlich maneuver was first used on a patient at a restaurant in Washington state.

Heimlich died in December 2016 at the age of 96

WEST VIRGINIA: The first steamboat made a trip down the Potomac River.

The first steamboat launched in the Potomac River on December 3, 1787, thanks to the machinery of James Rumsey. It was the first time a steam-engine propelled the ship down the river.

Over the next century, steam boats would be heavily used to ferry people and cargo along rivers.

WISCONSIN: Advancements in stem cells posed ethical questions.

In 1998, a lab at the University of Wisconsin, led by James Thomson, isolated and grew stem cells derived from human embryos for the first time, setting off one of the biggest ethical discussions of modern science.

In 2007, the same lab then developed a technique to turn regular human cells into stem cells without ever using a human embryo. 

WYOMING: Como Bluff was home to a number of major dinosaurs and discoveries.

Wyoming’s Como Bluff has been the site of many dinosaur discoveries, including plant-eaters like Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus.

The fossils were at one point so plentiful that they were used as a roadside attraction to build a “Fossil Cabin,” dubbed the “World’s Oldest Building” thanks to its pre-historic exterior of more than 5,000 bones.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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