Apollo 10 capsule
Forty years ago last month, three men travel led around the Moon in this capsule as a rehearsal for the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which took place in July two months later.

Not only did the Apollo missions demonstrate the far limits of technology, but they also gave us a new and inspiring sense of our place in the vast and largely unknown universe.

  • The Atmospheric Engine
The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712. This model was built to his design by by Francis Thompson at a colliery in Derbyshire, UK, in 1791 and is the oldest Newcomen-type engine to survive complete and largely unaltered.

The atmospheric engine solved the energy crisis of its day and heralded the start of the Industrial Revolution. It unlocked previously unreachable coal reserves, by pumping water from deep mines.

Although this triumph of engineering arguably marks the start of the industrial age we still inhabit, it also marks the point that our dependence on fossil fuels really began.

  • The electric telegraph
Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke patented the world's first successful electric telecommunications device in 1837.

Their telegraph was the first practical use of electricity for long-distance communication and led to the first public communications network.

Those networks have been growing in strength, capacity and importance ever since.

  • Model T Ford
Through pioneering new ideas about mass production, the Ford Motor Company brought motoring within the reach of a huge new market.

Fordism became a familiar metaphor for production of anything in large quantities; a philosophy that is now standard business practice.

  • Pilot ACE Computer
One of the earliest general-purpose electronic computers, Pilot ACE ran its first programme on 10 May 1950.

At the time, it was the fastest computer in the world.

The computer's design was a smaller version of a design by computing pioneer Alan Turing.

Pilot ACE was selected because of its place in the first generation of computers that spawned the machines that surround us today.

  • V2 rocket engine
Despite being on the losing side in the Second World War, the V2 engine, invented in 1942, shaped the world for decades afterwards.

The V2's creator, Wernher von Braun, moved to the US after the war, where he worked on the nascent intercontinental ballistic missile programme.

He then worked for NASA, where he masterminded the Saturn V rocket that took Apollo 11 to the Moon.

  • Penicillin
Fungal spores that drifted through these windows in central London led Alexander Fleming to discover the first antibiotic in 1928.

By the mid-1940s, work in the UK and US led to the first penicillin reaching patients.

That development marked the start of a wave of new drugs, which have made a diagnosis of a bacterial infection far less threatening than it once was.

  • DNA double helix
This reconstruction of the first ever model of the DNA molecule contains some of the original parts used by Crick and Watson in 1953.

Their breakthrough made it possible to finally understand both how organisms pass on their genes, and how the workings of cells are governed.

This now-familiar structure is still at the heart of huge scientific endeavours.

And with genome sequencing becoming ever cheaper, we're only going to become more familiar with it.

  • X-ray machine
The discovery of X-rays, by German physician Wilhelm R�ntgen in 1895, led to a radical new diagnostic tool for doctors.

This X-ray set was made by Russel Reynolds just months after R�ntgen's breakthrough.

It is one of the oldest in the world, and provided some of the first glimpses inside the human body that didn't need a scalpel.

  • Stephenson's Rocket
By achieving record-breaking speeds en route to winning the 1829 Rainhill trials in Manchester, UK, Rocket steered the world towards mobile power instead of fixed engines pulling on ropes.

Its basic design principles became a standard that would carry people and goods around the globe for the next 150 years.

History could easily have been different. Another locomotive named Lucky proved capable of outperforming Rocket in the trials, but was less reliable.

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