It is very subjective since as you stated economics does not assess goals of immediate perception. But let's think about it, consider a great branch of macroeconomics, growth theory: deepening the knowledge of the causes of growth yields higher welfare, and with this word we consider also technological and medical growth. Not bad, I would say. Let's try with another example, models of credit scoring. Being able to correctly evaluate a potential borrower and the level of risk of a lender entails financial stability which avoids catastrophic crises, with relevant consequences on every discipline. Last example, market normative regulation. Protecting consumer from firms' abuses consents to maximize consumer's surplus. An happy consumer is an happy citizen, happy citizens ensures social and political stability. These are few (and subjective) examples that point out an important message: economics is the base on which modern societies have built their foundations, a well oiled economic machine consent to reach those great human discoveries that you pointed out in your message.