Pick 3September 25, 2005
Today I was driving to a study session when I suddenly started thinking about things that have truly changed our lives, better or worse. So what do you think were the three most influential inventions of the 20th century?
The Airplane: The earth suddenly became a lot less ‘vast’ then it used to be and the airplane has been the single greatest influence on this. It has also brought about globalization, which you can argue is either good or bad.
The Atomic Bomb: Nearly half of the last century was spent in the grips of the threat of nuclear war. Even in this century it continues to be a major political hot bed. And in splitting the atom we have brought about a source of energy so immense, it’s like having a personal sun right here in our own back yard.
The Computer: I was going to say internet but then without computers we wouldn’t have the internet so the computer it is. This little device has done more for just about every other aspect of science, art and life then I think all the others that will grace this list combined. Computers have exponentially given us the ability to advance many aspects of our life to such a degree that 20 years ago many things we have shuffled off to the realm of scifi are now reality.
So there you have it. Let me hear from you what you think. Feel free to agree or disagree with any choice on the list but be sure to include the three you would pick.
At the end, maybe I’ll take the best of all and post in one big long blogitorial.
Mine would be:
1) Modern farming techniques / genetically modified food, for without them, the would would be unable to sustain the current population.
2) Mass Production / Logistics
One thing that pains me is that I can’t list spaceflight. Very depressing.
Excellent post, Mr. Legion. Really made me think, there.
I disagree with your listing of the Airplane. The world was already a “small” place by the middle of the 19th century, even though it took weeks to make a voyage from one hemisphere to the other. Despite inconvenient travel times, you had the telegraph spreading news lightning fast, people moving all over the world, troops moving all over the world to fight wars, etc. I think the airplane only sped up this process – and, the airplane has never been as cheap or as readily accessible to the common masses as other means of transport that have been around considerably longer (trains, for example).
I tihnk Name Hidden’s listing of Antibiotics is a very worthy contender for the top 3 spot – without mass produced antibiotics the world would be a lot different.
Personally, I would replace Airplane with the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick (and Rosalind Franklin, who should have been on the receiving end of their shared Nobel). Discovering DNA and how to image it through x-ray crystallization opened up doors to a whole new field of science — genetic engineering, which, for better or worse, skewed the last 50 years of the 20th century significantly. I would also suggest Einsteins general theory of relativity, which in its own way led to both the Atom Bomb and (obliquely, the way a shadow describes an unseen sun) quantum mechanics.
All good stuff.
Now if I could even remotely get more people than my audience of two (sometimes three) to read my site, this could be a great little exploration.
Mind if I post it on my blog with credits to you?
Absolutely don’t mind at all. Post away!
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