After you make a discovery you can just publish it or if there is commercial benefit then you may get a lawyer and file a patent.
These stay invisible for 18 months and they are assessed for novelty and inventiveness. The legal aspects are scrutinised however, the science isn't always. These can be challenged by other lawyers acting on behalf of others. If they are not challenged they are granted and published. But there is not one universal system but many and you need to file in each country and this costs loads in translation and costs rack up.