21.9 Advances in Science and Technology

Since 1945, scientific research and technological development have transformed life for much of the world. Masses of new inventions, the computer revolution, and advances in the medicine and biology have had enormous impact. Among the most dramatic advances was the exploration of space.

Photo of man in N A S A spacesuit walking on the moon.

American astronaut Edwin Aldrin walked on the moon in July 1969. Reflected in his visor are fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to step on the moon's surface, and the lunar landing module.


  • Describe the exploration of space and the innovations that have resulted.
  • Analyze the development and impact of computer technology and telecommunications.
  • Summarize key advancements in medicine and biotechnology.

Key Terms

  • artificial satellite
  • International Space Station (ISS)
  • Internet
  • biotechnology
  • laser
  • genetics
  • genetic engineering

Space Exploration

By the second half of the twentieth century, there were few places on Earth that people had not begun to explore. Space was seen as the “final frontier”—an unknown world filled with opportunity. Within a few short decades, people had developed the transportation technology to explore space and gained knowledge about this new frontier

The Space Race

Rockets are projectiles or vehicles propelled by the ejection of burning gasses from the rear of the rocket. In the early twentieth century, pioneers in rocketry like the American physicist Robert Goddard probed the potential of liquid-fueled rockets.

Goddard believed that a rocket could carry people to the moon. At first people met his ideas with disbelief, but German scientists took an interest in Goddard's work. During World War II German scientists, led by Wernher von Braun, developed Germany's V-2 rockets that flew across the English Channel to rain down on London. Von Braun later became a leader in the U.S. space program.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to see which superpower would take the lead in space exploration.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments