We live in extraordinary times. It takes a mere half-day to fly half-way across the Earth, our smartphones are supercomputers 60,000 times lighter than the original computers, and we have the highest agricultural production and life spans in human history. We owe these great advancements to a handful of great minds – scientists, inventors, and tinkerers who invented the products and machines our modern world is built on. Without these inventors and their remarkable inventions, we may still be going to sleep when the sun sets and be stuck in the dark ages of technology when Snapchat and Twitter did not exist.
In this list, we delve into the most important and crucial recent human inventions, giving the back story of each invention and their importance in pushing humanity forward. Can you guess which inventions will show up? From methods to sanitize food and increase its safety to a toxic gas which helped form the basis for international commerce to an invention which sparked a sexual revolution and liberated millions of people, each of these creations has touched our world in a profound way. Check them out on our list of the 25 Remarkable Inventions That Have Changed Everything.
World Wide Web
Though we think of it as a recent invention, the internet existed in archaic terms back in 1969 when the United States military developed ARPANET. The first message sent through the internet – “log in” – crashed the system, only managing to send the letters “l” and “o”. It wasn’t until Tim Berners-Lee created a network of hyperlink documents and the University of Illinois created the first browser, Mosaic, that the World Wide Web came to fruition as we mostly know it today.
It seems easy to pick up the phone and be connected to someone in Mali, Russia, or India, but none of this would be possible without the transistor. A semiconductor which amplifies electronic signals, the transistor made it possible to send information across massive distances. The man in charge of the research, William Shockley, is credited with beginning the development of Silicon Valley.
Though it may not seem as revolutionary as many of the previous items, the invention of the atomic clock was crucial in pushing humanity forward. Using microwave signals emitted by electrons changing energy levels, atomic clocks and their exactness make a wide variety of modern day inventions possible, including GPS, GLONASS, and the internet.
Charles Parsons’ steam turbine pushed the limits of humanity’s advancement, powering industrial countries and helping ships chug their way across vast oceans. The engines work by turning a shaft via pressurized steam to generate electricity, one of their primary differences from the steam engine that powered the Industrial Revolution and beyond. In 1996 alone, 90% of electric power in the U.S. was generated by steam turbines.
Despite how ubiquitous it seems in our modern-day society, plastic is an incredibly recent invention, popping up only in the past century. The water-resistant, highly-malleable material is used in nearly every industry, from food packaging to toys and even to spaceships. Though most modern-day plastics are derived from petroleum, there has been a push to move back to the original versions which were partly natural and organic.