Why Are Discoveries Made Simultaneously Around the World?

In our history, even before the discovery of the Internet, airplanes or intercontinental communications, many discoveries have been made simultaneously by different individuals. People who were completely independent from each other in terms of identity, personal background and location have discovered the same things or similar things, at the same time.

Historians and sociologists have realized what is called the occurrence of “multiple discoveries”, or what Merton has called “multiples”. But, how and why are discoveries made simultaneously around the world? Are we are destined to discover the same things.


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Is there a pattern that we haven’t discovered that would shed light why this happens?

These discoveries are not always made at the same time, but close to each other in time. Modern humans have been around for 200,000 years. It is intriguing that these discoveries are made up in the same year and in some cases the same month.

For example, an inventor could invent something that was already invented by someone else a few months ago without this person even knowing about it. Every year, there are different Nobel laureates, from which some of them can be laureates because of the same discovery.

The fact that different people who haven’t even heard of each other can discover the same things at the same time can be considered just a coincidence by many individuals. But, what if there is a higher plan in all of this? What if we are on a predefined timeline?

One of the most common cases of this type is the formulation of calculus, which was made by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in the seventeenth century. There are many other interesting cases, just as you will see below.

It seems that, even if two scientists come up with the same formula, the way in which the formula is found can be many times different. But, in essence, it is the same thing. It is like “all roads lead to Rome” in the end. The following examples are suggestive and can demonstrate how different scientists discovered the same things simultaneously, even if they were totally strangers to one another:


Calculus is like the basis of study for physics, engineering, economics and other common domains. Newton had the first idea around the year 1666. Because of his introverted nature, Newton didn’t talk to anybody about his idea.


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Leibniz made the same discovery in 1673, but he viewed the same formula from a different perspective. He developed an improved notation method that people still use today. The results of Leibniz were published before Newton, but Newton’s documents have circulated. Other scientists discovered the formula as well.


Pyramids have been built by civilizations in many parts of the world. The development and stories of pyramids and similar structures have captivated humans through our history.

  • Mesopotamia
  • Egypt
  • Sudan
  • Nigeria
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • China
  • Mesoamerica
  • North America
  • Roman Empire
  • Medieval Europe
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Peru


In the eighteenth century, oxygen was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1773, Joseph Priestley in 1774, Antoine Lavoisier in 1777 and there were also others. But, Lavoisier was the one who invented the term oxygen.

Theory of Evolution

The theory that species go through an evolution process over many generations has been formulated by two individuals in the nineteenth century: Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Every child learns in school that Charles Darwin is the author of this theory.

The story is that Darwin traveled and discovered an island full of monkeys that were capable of wearing human clothes. The idea that the species have evolved was already around, but it was considered too radical for those times.

The truth is Alfred Russel Wallace sent his theory to Darwin, because he liked the guy after he heard about his ideas and Darwin has published the theory later in his notes. It seems that Wallace had no objection.


Today we have replaced fixed phones with smartphones, but the classical telephone is the real ancestor of any phone that we use right now. The telephone was preceded by the telegraph. It took some time for someone to realize that sound waves can be converted into electrical current and back.

Alexander Graham Bell, the person who everybody knows as the inventor of the telephone walked into the patent office the same day with another guy who wanted to patent the same discovery.


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The person’s name is Elisha Gray. After a complex situation that involved insults, bribing and the use of lawyers, the result was a lot of controversy over who was really the first to transform sound waves into electric current. It seems that Bell had a better understanding of how the device he invented is working.

Mass-Energy Equivalency

Almost any person in the world knows that Einstein came up with this equation. Actually, a few more people worked on the same problem and one of them discovered a connection between mass and energy earlier than Einstein. His name was Henri Poincare.

But, he didn’t come up with an equation. An Italian physicist named Olinto De Pretto developed the same equation before Einstein while he was working on an idea about aether. The context in which Einstein developed his equation and other factors have lead to its breakthrough.

Polio Vaccine

Polio is one of the worst viruses, as it causes paralysis and sometimes even death. In the 1950’s, many scientists have tried to find a vaccine. Jonas Salk has developed a vaccine in 1952 and started to distribute it among schoolchildren. Even if Salk’s discovery was popular, he used a “dead virus” version of the vaccine, while other people were discovering an “alive virus” version. In 1950 Hilary Koprowski came up with an oral version.

Albert Sabin developed a better version of this oral vaccine a few years later and this one replaced the original vaccine of Salik in some parts of the world. Salik became the most notorious, but some people consider Sabin as more famous.


As you can see, all these discoveries were made before any type of fast planetary communication grid was established: no internet, no phones, not fast travel means, etc. When it comes to the invention of the telephone, this was just in the stage of a concept, so there is no way for these people to know each other, since they were from different locations and sometimes very far from each other.

Maybe we are destined to discover the same things and if Einstein would not have existed, another physicist would have come up with the same mass-energy equivalency equation and the general path for human kind would have stayed the same. It is difficult yet to even grasp such concepts, but at some point in the future will probably know more. There is a lot of research to do and we probably need another Einstein.

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