The 1990’s were an interesting time. People finally started using the internet regularly, for one; that’s when most of us started using email, but Facebook was several years away from becoming the dominant social media force it currently is.
Heck, Myspace didn’t even exist in the 1990’s.
Video games were not nearly as advanced as they are today, and it was practically impossible to play one online for much of the decade, unless that game was text based—we were all using dial-up modems, after all; however, the technological and scientific advancements that occurred during the decade laid the groundwork for the world we are all living in and enjoying today.
Let’s take a look at fifteen scientific discoveries from the 1990’s that still kind of leave us in awe so many years later.
1. The World Wide Web
In the picture above, you’ll see a man by the name of Tim Berners-Lee. The English engineer and computer scientist invented the World Wide Web back in 1989. He’s the reason you are able to read this article right now. It was not until the 1990’s that any of us really had access to the web, though.
He pretty much changed the world. It is fair to say the world wouldn’t be as it currently is without the internet, and Tim Berners-Lee is largely responsible for it.
In 2004, Queen Elizabeth knighted him due to his work. Berners-Lee, who is currently 62 years old, now teaches computer science at the University of Oxford. Time Magazine named him one of the most important people of the 20th century.
At the 2012 Olympics, he was honored for inventing the World Wide Web.
2. Dolly The Sheep
The first time a mammal was cloned was back in 1996—via nuclear transfer. The public did not receive the achievement too well, as it was seen as man playing God. Nobody really thought that “Dolly The Sheep“ would live very long, but the creature defied expectations. The animal lived into her sixth year, and people are still talking about Dolly decades after she was created.
Sheep generally live for 11 or 12 years.
Dolly, who was born in July of 1996, died in February of 2003 of a progressive lung disease. She spent her life at the Roslin Institute, which is part of the University of Edinburgh.
In total, Dolly produced six lambs. Her first lamb, which was named Bonnie, was born in 1998. She had twin lambs the next year, and triplets the year after that.
Google is such a big part of our lives now that it is actually a verb. You don’t know something? Google it! In the late nineties, only about a year after the internet really went commercial, Google began indexing websites.
The creators of Google are Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and they studied at Stanford University. The first Google server was in their dorm room. At first, most Google users were other students at Stanford.
Google is now the most visited website in the world. It offers other very popular services, such as Blogger and YouTube. In 2017, it was considered the most valuable brand in the world, and it currently employs almost 74,000 people.
4. Hale-Bopp And A Mass Suicide
Hale-Bopp is a comet that was first discovered in 1995. It was discovered separately by two people: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. It wasn’t visible to the naked eye then, but became visible to the naked eye in 1997. It was visible to the naked eye for about 18 months.
It actually passed the sun for the first time in over 4,000 years in 1997, but people remember it these days for a different reason.
Five days before it passed the sun, there was a massive suicide. Thirty-nine people died. That occurred on the 26th of March. The people who died belonged to a cult known as “Heaven’s Gate”. Members of the cult believed that there was a UFO behind the Hale-Bopp comet; that UFO was supposed to “save them”.
The cult members believed that the comet would cause the end of the world by altering the rotation of the Earth.
5. The Flavr Savr Tomato
Pronounced as Flavor Saver, The Flavr Savr was actually the first genetically modified tomato approved to be sold legally to the public. It got its name because it did not rot as easily as normal tomatoes. By keeping its typical form, the flavor and the juices remained untouched.
The Flavr Savr Tomato actually managed to outsell normal varieties of tomato, and even better versions would come out; however, it lost its appeal. First introduced in 1994, it only lasted until 1997. The company that made the tomato—Calgene—was not able to make a profit.
6. The Oriental Pearl Tower
It was in 1994 that the construction of the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower was finished. The tower is 468m tall. Until the Shanghai World Financial Center was constructed, the tower was also the tallest building in the country of China.
The structure was not built just so it could be a lovely landmark. The creation was dedicated to representing the investments that made wealth rise substantially in Eastern China. The top part is also an antenna; there is also a restaurant, shopping center, and hotel. There are 15 observatory levels.
7. The Galileo Probe
In December of 1995, Galileo finally arrived at Jupiter. It studied the planet and its moons. It was the first spacecraft to do so. The mission cost well over $1 billion.
A lot of discoveries were made as a result of Galileo. For example, the magnetosphere of the planet was mapped. Galileo ended its mission in September 2003, after 14 years. It was sent into the atmosphere of Jupiter at a very high speed—roughly 173,000 km/h—resulting in an intentional crash.
The crash was arranged over concerns that Galileo had not been properly sterilized prior to it being launched. It was believed that a crash would prevent forward contamination.
8. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection was more or less invented in the 1990’s. The first pregnancy generated by the technique occurred way back in April of 1991. It helped a lot of people who could not have babies on their own start families. The procedure is generally used as a result of severe male infertility.
The first birth due to intracytoplasmic sperm injection happened on the 14th of January in 1992.
9. Gene Therapy
Gene therapy was first carried out—successfully—back in September of 1990. White blood cells from a patient were removed; they were then infused with a missing gene and injected back into the patient’s bloodstream.
Since September of 1990, more than 2,000 similar procedures have been conducted, and it seems likely that the procedures will grow in popularity. Back in 2013-2014, United States-based companies invested over $600 million in research into gene therapy operations.
10. The Mars Pathfinder
It was on July 4th of 1997 that the Mars Pathfinder managed to land on Mars. It conducted several investigations on the Martian soil using three scientific instruments, and had a few different objectives. One objective was to prove that developing better, faster, and cheaper spacecraft was actually possible. It was also intended to demonstrate how NASA was committed to low-cost exploration of planets.
The mission was not supposed to last longer than a month, but the Mars Pathfinder operated for almost three months. The final data transmission from the rover was on September 27th of 1997. Chances are that its on-board battery failed due to repeated charging and discharging.
While there was probably more to be learned from The Mars Pathfinder, it had definitely exceeded its goals.
11. The Human Genome Project
Scientists wanted to start indexing the full genome outline of human beings. Basically, they wanted to create an encyclopedia for the human body. Most of the government-sponsored sequencing was performed in universities and research centers in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Japan, Germany, China, and Spain.
It is believed to be the world’s largest collaborative biological project. It was formally launched in 1990. It was declared complete in 2001.
Funding for the project came from the United States’ National Institutes of Health and other groups around the world.
Further analysis of the Human Genome Project continues to occur, and papers on the subject are still being written.
12. Extrasolar Planets
Back in 1992, scientists detected planets outside of our solar system; those planets were not orbiting our sun. They were orbiting different stars. New solar systems were discovered.
Since that discovery in 1992, we have discovered over 2,700 systems and over 3,700 planets. 627 of those systems have more than one planet. We still have not discovered extraterrestrial life, though—yet!
We are obviously trying to find a planet that human beings can move to just in case the Earth is no longer hospitable sometime in the future.
If you’re under the age of 20 or so, you probably can’t imagine a time where people actually had to use paper maps to find their way around. Those dark days definitely happened, though, as GPS wasn’t properly operational until 1995. The technology was actually created back in the early 1970’s, but no one really had access to the technology until the 1990’s.
Nowadays, most of us can’t imagine going anywhere new without the help of GPS technology. As you read this, there are actually 31 satellites in Earth’s orbit, and those satellites are responsible for telling you how to get to the nearest Starbucks.
14. NSFNET Shutting Down
NSFNET stands for the National Science Foundation Network. It was used by scientists for research—normal folk could not access it.
It eventually became what could be considered the backbone of the internet. It went offline in late April of 1995. The World Wide Web was then open to commercial users. A few years later, search engines would appear—and the world would never be the same again.
15. The International Space Station
It was in 1996 that construction of the international space station started, making it one of the more interesting years in the history of space travel. The station contains living quarters and laboratories where scientific experiments can be conducted. There can be experiments on astronomy, physics, biology, meteorology, and other subjects.
It was launched into orbit in 1998, but development of the space station is continuing. Components are set to be launched this year and next year. It will likely be used until at least 2028.
At times, the station is actually visible to the naked eye. It can be seen after sunset and before sunrise, and it looks like a bright white dot that moves slowly.
The 1990’s really were an interesting decade. In addition to the aforementioned technologies and discoveries, it was the decade that gave us the Super Nintendo as well as the still-popular situational comedies “Friends” and “Frasier”. The music was pretty good, too; popular groups that started in the 1990’s include Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, and Weezer.
Americans even got to see the impeachment of the President of the United States; Bill Clinton ended up being acquitted, of course, but it was still an interesting time in American history.
Times have certainly changed, but the discoveries and technological advancements made during the 1990’s helped create the society we live in today.