- Gravity and the basic laws of physics (Newton)
- The principle of relativity (Einstein)
- The big bang and the formation of the universe (Hubble)
- The structure of the atom (Rutherford and Bohr)
- Evolution and the principle of natural selection (Darwin)
- The cell and genetics (Flemming and Mendel)
- The structure of the DNA molecule (Watson and Crick)
In the list above, we have one discovery in chemistry sandwiched between three in physics and three in biology. In each case, the story behind how the discovery was made is as interesting as the discovery itself. Noticeably absent from the list is quantum physics, but it would be hard to knock anything off this list. The importance of quantum physics has become more apparent over the past fifteen years (when the book was published) – today’s list of top discoveries should perhaps be extended to eight.