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Developments in science and technology inevitably lead to changes in society. Consider the story of copper. “No tools or weapons could be made of metal until the monumental turning point, some 7,000 years ago, when a metallurgist somewhere in Asia heated the blue-green rocks associated with bits of metallic copper in a bed of drafted, glowing coals.” [Steve Voynick, “A Metal for All Ages,” The World & I, November 1998]

Generations later, when metallurgists discovered that copper melted with tin yielded the much harder, more durable material bronze, they inadvertently launched vast social changes as societies organized to produce, use, and trade this prized metal, which greatly improved weapons, plows, and a multitude of other implements. Through the centuries, copper also enhanced commerce (it came to be used in coins and as a sheath on the bottom of oceangoing boats), and it certainly anchored the Age of Electricity through all its stages.

Each of the seventy-plus articles in our Impacts collection conveys an appreciation for a similar noteworthy achievement that has transformed society. Topics range from sugar cane, sulfur, batteries, bar codes, and bubbles to concrete, gears, vaccines, and lasers. Discover the history behind these and many other developments by exploring our Impacts collection, whose articles are accessible through the categories below.

Biological Species
Chemical Elements and Molecules
Ideas and Properties
Natural Phenomena

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