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What is the greatest invention ever?


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#1 of 92 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:31 AM

My first g/f asked me this some 8 years ago. All I could come up with was the Wheel.

For her, it was writing.

I have yet to hear anything top that.

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#2 of 92 OFFLINE   Bhagi Katbamna

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:34 AM

The plough. When Connections was on, the host said that this was the single most important invention allowing humans to leave the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Fire would be close as well.
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#3 of 92 OFFLINE   Andy_S

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:46 AM

Some (including me) would argue that fire isn't an invention. It was tamed. Saying humans invented fire is the same as saying humans invented horses.
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#4 of 92 OFFLINE   Scott Van Dyke

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:46 AM

Fire was not "invented" -sorry.

#5 of 92 OFFLINE   Andy_S

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:51 AM

This may be one of those unanswerable questions since everything is tied together. Without tools, a plough couldn't be made. So what's more important? The tools or the plough?
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#6 of 92 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:52 AM

Beer


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#7 of 92 OFFLINE   Dustin B

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:55 AM

Sliced bread of course :P)
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#8 of 92 OFFLINE   MickeS

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:56 AM

Ron, somehow I KNEW you'd say that! Posted Image

Personally, I don't think "writing" can count as an invention either, just like "fire". Even if it could, I don't see it as the greatest invention.

Of course, you also have to define "greatest". Do we mean the one with the biggest impact on human history? Then the plough is a good one. If we mean something that "only" revolutionized our society, I'd argue that gunpowder, dynamite and nitrogen (NPR had a series about this recently) are three candidates too.

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#9 of 92 OFFLINE   Ben Osborne

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Posted July 26 2002 - 04:59 AM

I would say the printing press, or in the more abstract, the division of labor system.

#10 of 92 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:01 AM

Ron Posted Image

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#11 of 92 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:02 AM

What Ron said--and as an accessory, pizza.

#12 of 92 OFFLINE   Alex Spindler

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:06 AM

Minor, but critical, would be The Assembly Line. But I'd probably fall back on The Printing Press as it laid the groundwork for education, enlightenment, and the preservation of culture.

#13 of 92 OFFLINE   Shayne Lebrun

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:14 AM

From a military point of view, and therefore form a social point of view, the stirrup is usually referenced.

I'd also say 'zero,' which eluded people as a concept for quite a while. :-)

#14 of 92 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:15 AM

Man, that's easy.

5.1 Doly Digital / DTS sound systems and big TVs with DVD and LaserDisc Players.

Anyone going to argue with that?
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#15 of 92 OFFLINE   Thik Nongyow

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:15 AM

Farming. Without the concept, humans will still be living as hunters and gatherers. Let me have my opinions on what others had said:

a) gunpowder: it revolutionized warfare and was responsible for the downfall of feudalism in Europe. The modern nation-state was formed because of the benefits of gunpowdered weapons.

b) the printing press: it revolutionized communications, as information can be distributed much faster than writing by hand. It was responsible for the Reformation (a religious topic I will not talk about) and the the Enlightenment of the 18th century. It also encouraged literacy.

c) fire: fire is found in nature. Humans only discovered it.

#16 of 92 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:18 AM

Either cooking or the use of preservatives in food.

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#17 of 92 OFFLINE   Ashley Seymour

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:23 AM

Metallurgy

The native americans got along without the wheel. Not because they were not intellectually capable of inventing one, but because it did not offer a significant advantage for the hunter gatherer lifestyle.

Carpentry tools have to be make of metal to be effective.

A plough has to be made of metal to offer an advantage over wood.
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#18 of 92 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:23 AM

Okay, what Philip Hamm, admin emeritus, said too--along with beer and pizza.

#19 of 92 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:25 AM

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#20 of 92 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 26 2002 - 05:29 AM

Quote:
Anyone going to argue with that?
Of course, that's what we're here for!

Fire by itself isn't an invention (prior art 35 USC 102 problems Posted Image ) but artificial fire (e.g. fire by friction drill or fire by flint striking) could be an invention. Just waiting around for lightning to strike wasn't terribly helpful.

I claim:

A fire making method, comprising:

striking a flint with a stone;
kindling sparks issued by said flint and said stone utilizing shredded material; and
blowing on said shredded material.


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