The basics
THE USA: Subject Guides - Must read

An American history of Science

A history of science in America, including major breakthroughs and events to inspire students to study the science fields in America.


Let's take a trip through America's history of and contributions to Science, to better understand why the USA is a premier destination if you want to study this field or any of its sub-fields. Will you follow in the footsteps of Einstein, Bell and Tesla who immigrated to the States to continue their greatest works?



Edwin Hubble's pioneering work in the early 20th century using telescopes which were more powerful than those before it, gave us a new glimpse of what was around us in space. While TV show The X Files popularised the phrase, it was Hubble who really originally got us to 'keep watching the skies'. Hubble made the key discovery that the galaxy was consistently expanding ('The Doppler Effect'), and that there were other galaxies beyond our own.

Several decades later in 1969, America would successfully land humans on the moon for the first time. The world watched live on television in awestruck silence as astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins took mankind's first steps on the moon, and the iconic statement, 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind...' went down in the annals of history.

For students of: Astronomy and Space Science, Physics


Nuclear bombs

One of the more controversial creations in science which continues to split opinions is that of nuclear energy as a weapon. While the original research took place in Europe, it was America who took this splitting of atoms, to build the first weapons which harnessed nuclear fission, during World War 2. Known as 'Big Science' because of the spectacular and devastating nature of the effects, this would lead to a hostile arms race with Russia during the Cold War years as the world looked on, supposedly on the brink of an all-out nuclear war and utter destruction.

For students of: Physics, Nuclear Physics



If you spoke to your parents and grandparents about their parents, you might be surprised to hear that they died from conditions and causes which we see as considerably more treatable today. For instance, while heart disease is still a prominent cause of death in America, the case was far worse up until 30-40 years ago. The country's death-rate from it dropped by a massive 41% between the years of 1971 and 1991 due to new light being shed on how lifestyle choices impacted the coronary system, such as heavy smoking and consumption of alcohol! America's mortality rate for strokes dropped 59% in that same period too. And while cancer continues to touch lives around the world, American research continues today in order to make it more treatable; for example, now 70% of child patients will survive, and the remission rate for certain cancers (e.g. skin cancer) are remarkably positive. While there is a lot work still to do, we have come a long way as well.

For students of: Medicine, Oncology


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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.