Ever since the invention of the camera, incredible moments that would have been lost to history have instead been recorded by film and preserved for future generations. From the heartwarming to the bone-chilling, these 30 photos represent important moments of history caught on film.

#1 The First Heart Surgery

In 1987 the world of medicine brought what was thought to be impossible into reality. This man, Tadeusz Zytkiewicz, is seen here holding a picture of himself following the first heart transplant ever performed. The surgery took 23 hours, and a colleague of his can be seen asleep in one side of the picture after the rigorous event.

#2 They Were Heroes, And They Lived

Chernobyl is one of the most terrible nuclear disasters to ever happen outside of wartime, and even the nuclear bombs themselves have trouble matching its lasting devastation. The three men pictured here were part of the reason that the damage done wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Right to left we have Boris Baranov, Valeri Bezpalov, and Alexei Ananenko, three divers who dove into a pool of water under a melting core to prevent a world-spanning steam cloud from occurring. All three survived, and thanks to them, so did millions of others.