So many technologies rely on technology that came before them. The internet exists because of readily available personal computers which exists because of the creation of the integrated circuit and the advent of a grid of power lines which provide electricity to every house, and so on, and so on. But I have always thanked the heavens for air conditioning. Even living in the upper Midwest summer is too warm to be unbearable to me without at least a window AC unit. In 1995 when there were power outages in Chicago, hundreds of people died from heat-related deaths. It makes living in wide swaths of the country reasonable, maybe even possible.
I think we have to pick two kinds of inventions,first: very early and very fundamental inventions which are more like discoveries:
ie: the wheel, or fire, or sails, or levers or rudders.
and more modern inventions.
I like the concept of the refrigeration cycle, and I agree that chemical refrigeration (mechanical evaporative cooling)is very important, but I propose a more important modern invention:
Transistors. Without their invention - that the gain of current induced through the junction of terminals in silicon and other semi conductor material could be so great, much of the activity of the modern age - microwaves, modern TVs, space travel, the conveniences of modern cars, MP3 players, computers - would never have happened.
In fact, almost all modern refrigeration is controlled by miniaturized transistors (ie: integrated circuits). That's my job, in fact.
(edited by AWArulz on 21.1.12 1915)
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That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than that the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy - Swift
Not a single invention but the "stuff" that was invented that made modern agriculture possible, especially mechanization. Without it 2/3 or more of us would still be farming and very little time or energy or brainpower would have been available for the thingd we enjoy today. In fact urban life wouldn't be very practical.
The largest agricultural invention was probably anhydrous ammonia using the Haber–Bosch process. Prior to that coming on the market (1910-ish), you just had to work with whatever conditions were present that year, but anhydrous has made it possible to get to where we are today, population wise, using basically the same (or smaller) amounts of farmland.
Other than that, I'll go with maize. You can trace the blossoming of any civilization to the point where maize (corn) was introduced to it. It's actually quite amazing.
Technologically, I'll go with AWARulz and say the transistor.
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I have to go with springs. There are so many things that need springs in order to work. Rotary phones, golf clubs and cars are just a few examples of this.
Just watch out for Coily.
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Paper. Plain and simple. Religions have been spread across the world on it, countries have been formed by it, and inventions, medications, and other revolutionary thoughts and ideas have been created from it. Even in this day of the digital world, I still think there are very few things in our lives that aren't affected in some form by paper.
Having recently gone for a week without power, I have to say that my pick is the electrical grid. Electricity isn't just lights and tv, it's refrigeration, it's water pumps, it's heat (even gas and oil furnaces have electric components), it's everything that makes modern civilization modern.
Originally posted by StaggerLeePenicillin. LOTS of dead people without it.
It's a discovery, not an invention. No one invents moldy cheese. Many people have died from it as well.
The asshole in me wants to answer 'Breast Implants' so I'll go with those.
LOL! Actually I'll raise and say affordable oral contraception for women. With the pill, women have taken control of their fertility and financial futures. And men are reaping the benefits of women who are much less worried about getting pregnant.
Also, me and my missing cancer infected boobies do not think you are as big of an asshole as you might think.
Originally posted by Tenken347Having recently gone for a week without power, I have to say that my pick is the electrical grid. Electricity isn't just lights and tv, it's refrigeration, it's water pumps, it's heat (even gas and oil furnaces have electric components), it's everything that makes modern civilization modern.
Yeah, electricity all the way. Without it we're all watching TV by candlelight (or whichever similarly shitty old joke you favour). I can't think of the last time I went a day without using it in some shape or form. Even during power cuts the first things I'd reach for are a torch and my mobile phone.
Originally posted by DrDirtMaybe internal combustion engine?
Ya, Honda went down the 'combustible' route a couple of years ago. Not so popular.