Produced by the National Academy of Sciences, “Beyond Discovery: The Path from Research to Human Benefit” is a series of articles that trace the origins of important recent technological and medical advances. Each story reveals the crucial role played by basic science, the applications of which could not have been anticipated at the time of the original research. “Unraveling the Enigma of Vitamin D,” for example, focuses on the twists and turns leading to the discovery and understanding of vitamin D, a substance that occurs naturally in only a few foods and also is manufactured in the skin when a precursor interacts with the short ultraviolet rays of the sun. “When the Earth Moves” reveals the discovery of sea floor spreading and the origin of plate tectonics theory, and “The Global Positioning System” discusses the role of atomic clocks and the centuries-old search for a system that would enable people to locate their position on the globe with the accuracy necessary to reach their intended destinations and avoid tragedy. “Human Gene Testing” explores the trail of research that led scientists to answer questions about heredity and open the door to gene testing, which promises to transform medicine completely. “The Ozone Depletion Phenomenon” answers questions such as, “What is the ozone?” and “How did researchers discover its role in the Earth’s atmosphere and the devastating consequences of its depletion?”

http://www.beyonddiscovery.org