Hot air balloons. Solar power. Apple computers. They're all items we take for granted. But if it weren't for a number of influential scientists who invented those breakthroughs, we would be without them. In fact, some of the greatest minds in science made history this week—from triumph to heartbreak, we tell their stories.
See it all in HuffPost Science's "This Week In Science History" slideshow:
Mathematician Alan Turing Commits Suicide
Alan Turing, famous mathematician, logician, and computer scientist, committed suicide on June 7, 1954 by eating an apple poisoned with deadly cyanide. Most well-known for his pioneering work in artificial intelligence and development of the Turing test, he was criminally prosecuted for being gay, and accepted chemical castration instead of prison. Turing is widely considered the father of modern computer science.
First Hot Air Balloon Flight
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier demonstrated the first balloon flight on June 4, 1783 in Annonay, France. Their linen and paper hot air balloon contained more than 20,000 cubic feet of air and made a mile-long journey. This first test of unmanned flight would pave the way for aviation in the next three centuries.
First Ford Test-Drive
Twelve years before Henry Ford began production of his famous Model T cars, he unveiled the very first in the automobile's precursors. Ford test-drove his "quadricycle" on June 4, 1896 in Detroit, Mich., reaching the then-incredible speed of 20 mph.
The Centers for Disease Control first mentioned a disease that would later be identified as AIDS on June 5, 1981. In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC documented "five young men, all active homosexuals" in Los Angeles with the disease.
Apple Takes A Bite Out Of History
Long before the iPhone became a global phenomenon, Steve Wozniak designed the first practical personal computer, the Apple II. It went on sale on June 5, 1977, and the chain of must-have personal Apple devices was set off.
The Birth Of Solar Power
The first solar power plant in the U.S. was dedicated on June 7, 1980. Sited at the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, the small-scale test demonstration was the first in an industry that has since been championed as one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources.
Venera 9 Blasts Off
USSR orbiter Venera 9 rocketed into space on June 8, 1975. It became the first spacecraft to orbit Venus, and send back the first images of another planet's surface.
"I think, therefore I am"
One of the most influential works in natural science was published on June 8, 1637. French philosopher Rene Descartes' <em>Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences</em> introduced the scientific theory of skepticism--or, never to accept truths that aren't proven--a founding principle of modern science.
Discovery Of Neptunium Announced
Uranium and Plutonium finally found their long-lost brother. On June 8, 1940, the discovery of the element Neptunium (Np) was announced by Edwin McMillan and Philip Abelson of the University of California at Berkeley. The discovery of neptunium, a radioactive metal, won McMillan a Nobel Prize in 1951 for creating one of the very first synthetic elements.
Space Is Curved?!
On June 10, 1854, German mathematician Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) delivered a lecture titled 'On the Hypotheses that Underlie Geometry' in Gottingen, Germany. Known as his Habilitation Dissertation, Riemann proposed that space was curved, a concept that laid the foundations for Einstein's relativity theory.
Tuberculosis DNA Sequenced
Researchers finally cracked the code on June 11, 1998, when the DNA Sequence for Tuberculosis was deciphered. A team of scientists published their discovery in Nature, mapping the 4,411,529 chemical letters that make up the bacterium. The groundbreaking discovery would lead to huge strides in research on the disease, which is one of the biggest killers in the world.
Alan M Turing and colleagues working on the Ferranti Mark I Computer, 1951. Ferranti, a weapons and electronics company, was commissioned by the British government to manufacture this computer. It was based on a prototype known as the Manchester Mark I, which was built at Manchester University in 1946 under the supervision of Professor Max Newman. Alan Turing had previously been involved with the construction of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory, and with the construction of 'Colossus', the world's first electronic programmable computer, built at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, during WWII. (SSPL / Getty Images)