Author Topic: The most important invention of the 20th century  (Read 5235 times)

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Offline Anders

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The most important invention of the 20th century
« on: November 24, 2015, 07:17:56 AM »
The transistor.

What do you think? Can you think of anything that has transformed the world in a similar way in the 20th century?
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Offline Desert Fox

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2015, 07:24:27 AM »
There are jus so many inventions of the 20ths century though
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Offline Skulker

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2015, 09:51:00 AM »
The transistor.

What do you think? Can you think of anything that has transformed the world in a similar way in the 20th century?
No I can't since most of the other inventions probably incorporated transistor technology into them somehow.
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Offline Pusher Robot

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2015, 10:31:13 PM »
The transistor.

What do you think? Can you think of anything that has transformed the world in a similar way in the 20th century?

Transistor is a good answer, though I wonder if it's biased towards the latter part of the century.  I might pick airplane as the most important invention over the entire century's span.  It revolutionized not just holiday travel, but politics, diplomacy, agriculture, geology, and science.  It was indispensable at some of the century's highest points, like breaking the sound barrier, and some of its lowest points, like dropping the atomic bomb.
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Offline Sordid

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2015, 10:51:48 PM »
It's impossible to pinpoint this to a single invention and it extends into the 19th century a bit, but I'd say the development of cheap mechanical power. Up until the end of the 19th century, the best you could do in that regard was a coal-fired steam engine, and the smallest practical vehicle you could power with it was a locomotive. And once you got off the train, you were down to horse-drawn carriages or carts, a technology literally thousands of years old. With liquid fuels and internal combustion engines, though, you could have small vehicles not constrained to train tracks, which made moving stuff around much, much easier, which led to a boom in industry and trade. I think we often don't appreciate quite how much our modern civilization depends on such a basic thing as being able to move vast quantities of stuff with something better than muscle power. Nowadays your lawnmower has a better engine than the Wright brothers had on their airplane, and virtually any power requirements you might have are solved simply by looking up a suitable engine in a catalog. We take it for granted, but can you imagine what the world would look like without the internal combustion engine?
« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 11:02:18 PM by Sordid »

Offline Anders

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 05:59:59 AM »
How about... the washing machine?

I think women's lib would have been very difficult without some machine to do the job they had been stuck with for most of history.
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Offline Skulker

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2015, 06:14:48 AM »
How about... the washing machine?

I think women's lib would have been very difficult without some machine to do the job they had been stuck with for most of history.
Then it should be the birth control pill.  ;)
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Offline Anders

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2015, 06:40:15 AM »
That too. But do you know how much time is required to just wash clothes manually?
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” Charles Darwin

Offline Skulker

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2015, 06:54:58 AM »
That too. But do you know how much time is required to just wash clothes manually?
True but how long does it take to raise a kid?  ;)
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2015, 07:30:50 AM »
Antibiotics.
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Offline starnado

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2015, 07:50:51 AM »
Antibiotics.
Good call.

Washing machines made me think of the electric motor and electric generator. Not saying they are the most important, merely that they deserve a mention. the electromagnetic principles that they follow have many other applications too.
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Offline Anders

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2015, 08:04:44 AM »
Antibiotics.
Good call.

Washing machines made me think of the electric motor and electric generator. Not saying they are the most important, merely that they deserve a mention. the electromagnetic principles that they follow have many other applications too.

Aren't they from the 19th century though?
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” Charles Darwin

Offline brilligtove

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2015, 09:09:14 AM »
From Wikipedia antibiotics article:

In 1928, Alexander Fleming identified penicillin, the first chemical compound with antibiotic properties. Fleming was working on a culture of disease-causing bacteria when he noticed the spores of little green mold in one of his culture plates. He observed that the presence of the mold killed or prevented the growth of the bacteria.

Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the 20th century, and have together with vaccination led to the near eradication of diseases such as tuberculosis in the developed world. Their effectiveness and easy access led to overuse, especially in livestock raising, prompting bacteria to develop resistance.
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Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2015, 09:10:51 AM »
Plastic
I'm just the victim of my cognitive privilege

Offline starnado

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Re: The most important invention of the 20th century
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2015, 09:11:43 AM »
I think Anders was referring to me, and he is correct. Oops.
'The little, stupid differences are nothing next to the big, stupid similarities'
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