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Greatest invention of the 20th century?

124

Posts

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It's impossible to justify something as the "greatest". There have been many great inventions that have had huge social (as mentioned, the Pill), economic (nuclear power, etc) and all great inventions seem to affect many categories.
    However, none of that matters, only
    Spoiler:

    A canned cheeseburger? Really?
    awesome.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • Perfectly CromulentPerfectly Cromulent Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Antibiotics.

    Undoubtedly the correct answer.

  • HyphyKezzyHyphyKezzy The Best On MarsRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine

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    Reads street English and speaks collegiate - Ras Kass
  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Antibiotics.

    This, followed by the integrated circuit.

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    Spoiler:
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Anti-biotics (no more amputations from minor infections, etc)

    Easy contraception (fewer stupid babies, more educated womens)

    Computers (not transistors; vacuum tubes or even purely mechanical machines can be Turing complete, which in my mind is the truly important part)

    Satellites (rocketry let us bomb things from a distance, satellites greatly facilitate communication and weather monitoring)

    Aircraft (smaller world and all that)

    Trucks? (I don't know if automobiles were invented before the 20th century or not, but relatively low cost, rugged and powerful machines have made just about everything easier)

    Plastics (lighter and cheaper then the next best thing)

    Internet (so we can have these discussions)

    Magnetic data storage (because punch cards really suck)


    There are so many more, hard to come up with a single one especially since we're being so broad here.

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  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Plastic doesn't work for two reasons:

    1 - There's no singular plastic. Like most things plastics have been gradually invented and unlike say antibiotics, the integrated circuit or the LCD screen you can't point to one thing easily

    2 - If you were to point to one thing, it would be the first plastic, celluloid. Celluloid was invented in 1855.

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    Spoiler:
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'd vote Teflon. Teflon has done amazing things.

  • ProPatriaMoriProPatriaMori Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Interstate highways/freeways/motorways/autobahn are pretty good too. Though I guess that's not really invention so much as a large engineering project.

  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    mirrorf.jpg
    YOU
    are the Greatest Invention of the 20th Century

    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2009
    Internet porn.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    The iPhone, duh.

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  • FiziksFiziks Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Internet porn.

    Instead of having to look for your parent's nudie magazines, you can just simply google boobs. I'm pretty sure 99.9% of all teenage boys were thankful for this.

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  • Donkey KongDonkey Kong Warning: Donkey Kong is not a real doctor Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It might help if for the purposes of this thread, an invention means an object or construct in its finished, usable form. Otherwise, we sit here arguing over and over which basic enabling technology is more important, walking the line between discovery and specific application.

    Transistors and plastics are great, but you don't USE either. Neither affect our lives directly. It's only through the things made of plastic and transistors that our lives change. Otherwise, they're just laboratory curiosities.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It might help if for the purposes of this thread, an invention means an object or construct in its finished, usable form. Otherwise, we sit here arguing over and over which basic enabling technology is more important, walking the line between discovery and specific application.

    Transistors and plastics are great, but you don't USE either. Neither affect our lives directly. It's only through the things made of plastic and transistors that our lives change. Otherwise, they're just laboratory curiosities.

    That really brings us back to, in consumer terms, The Pill and the personal computer.

    EDIT: Of course the PC is really my proxy for The (modern) Internet, with the argument being that The Pill is still largely a beneficiary to the first world and was checked by the rise of HIV. Though if we wanted to go down that path, the latex condom is pretty god damn important for it's global applicability.

  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

  • autono-wally, erotibot300autono-wally, erotibot300 love machine Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    my pick would definitely be the transistor
    are plastics even an invention of the 20th century? I thought they're more like about 50 years older

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    Sewer systems were instrumental in that too though. The elimination of cholera in Britain was very much associated with an effective sewer system designed to dump the water out downriver from the city.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    I'd vote Teflon. Teflon has done amazing things.

    It has led directly to me being able to produce an epic omelette, I'll give you that

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    140,000 where? Cholera is rampant anywhere you can't buy a legit copy of Panic! At the Disco's latest album. 140K strikes me as an underestimation...

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    140,000 where? Cholera is rampant anywhere you can't buy a legit copy of Panic! At the Disco's latest album. 140K strikes me as an underestimation...

    Isn't a lot of the annoyance at Mugabe lately been because Zimbabwe is so fucked up that the cholera epidemic is spilling over the borders into their country's and now it's neighbours are pissed at it just for that?

  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    Sewer systems were instrumental in that too though. The elimination of cholera in Britain was very much associated with an effective sewer system designed to dump the water out downriver from the city.

    Water treatment plants are much older then the 20th century

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Robman wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    Sewer systems were instrumental in that too though. The elimination of cholera in Britain was very much associated with an effective sewer system designed to dump the water out downriver from the city.

    Water treatment plants are much older then the 20th century

    What's I'm saying though is that the water treatment is not the operative point. It's also sensible management of waste water.

  • AS_hellionAS_hellion Registered User
    edited November 2009
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    Yeah, it really was one of the most important public health innovations ever. The fact that many people never give it any thought made me pick it over antibiotics.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • GoodOmensGoodOmens Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The Cat wrote: »

    140,000 where? Cholera is rampant anywhere you can't buy a legit copy of Panic! At the Disco's latest album. 140K strikes me as an underestimation...

    See, that's interesting, because whenever I hear anything by P!ATD I feel like I'm dying of cholera.

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    IOS Game Center ID: Isotope-X
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Robman wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    Sewer systems were instrumental in that too though. The elimination of cholera in Britain was very much associated with an effective sewer system designed to dump the water out downriver from the city.

    Water treatment plants are much older then the 20th century

    What's I'm saying though is that the water treatment is not the operative point. It's also sensible management of waste water.

    The Romans were pretty good at both of those things. They were masterful civil planners considering their technology level.

  • override367override367 misogynist/MRA/socially irresponsible Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Well it's entirely possible genetically engineered biological weapons or nuclear weapons will end mankind at some point, and if either of those events happen then the respective cause will have been the most important invention in mankind's history - both from the 20th century

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  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    segway

    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    It should be possible to roughly calculate what new technology or assemblage of different technologies actually increased global welfare and utility the most. If not plastics, I'm thinking something of agricultural importance - something that generally increases the marginal output in food production would be fundamental to improvements elsewhere in society.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Kastanj wrote: »
    It should be possible to roughly calculate what new technology or assemblage of different technologies actually increased global welfare and utility the most. If not plastics, I'm thinking something of agricultural importance - something that generally increases the marginal output in food production would be fundamental to improvements elsewhere in society.



    Well if we are going by that criteria, I don't see how anyone could argue against windshield wipers.

  • AridholAridhol Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Kastanj wrote: »
    It should be possible to roughly calculate what new technology or assemblage of different technologies actually increased global welfare and utility the most. If not plastics, I'm thinking something of agricultural importance - something that generally increases the marginal output in food production would be fundamental to improvements elsewhere in society.


    Dwarf Wheat. Ultra super awesome wheat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug

    These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.

  • CorvusCorvus Winter crow VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Plastics have done a lot, but they have had their downside. You only have to walk on, well, any shoreline on earth to find plastic debris fouling the environment, or just head out on to the water a little. Then there's the estimated 3.5 million tonnes of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Corvus wrote: »
    Plastics have done a lot, but they have had their downside. You only have to walk on, well, any shoreline on earth to find plastic debris fouling the environment, or just head out on to the water a little. Then there's the estimated 3.5 million tonnes of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

    That's really more consumerism.

  • override367override367 misogynist/MRA/socially irresponsible Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Not even really consumerism, just not really giving a shit/being completely unaware.

    Properly disposing of things should just be common sense

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  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Aridhol wrote: »
    Kastanj wrote: »
    It should be possible to roughly calculate what new technology or assemblage of different technologies actually increased global welfare and utility the most. If not plastics, I'm thinking something of agricultural importance - something that generally increases the marginal output in food production would be fundamental to improvements elsewhere in society.


    Dwarf Wheat. Ultra super awesome wheat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug

    These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.

    Antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions without exaggeration, which is not the case for dwarf wheat. Its difficult to save a billion lives from starvation in 50 years when there's little chance that many people would have died total of famine in that time frame. The "billion" figure is made up, pulled directly from the proverbial ass. The entire population of India and Mexico when dwarf wheat was introduced would have had to die to get there, and both places had access to US wheat. We're talking fifty Great Leaps Forward. We're talking theoretical famines ten to twenty times greater than what happened the previous fifty years to get to that number, and in reality if we exclude the Great Leap Forward famine rates haven't decreased noticeably. It was a big achievement but we don't need to get ridiculous. Famine over the last few centuries has more often been caused by an inability to transport food to where its needed than the inability to grow enough food.

    The answer is antibiotics, which has saved hundreds of millions.

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    Spoiler:
  • CorvusCorvus Winter crow VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Corvus wrote: »
    Plastics have done a lot, but they have had their downside. You only have to walk on, well, any shoreline on earth to find plastic debris fouling the environment, or just head out on to the water a little. Then there's the estimated 3.5 million tonnes of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

    That's really more consumerism.

    Consumerism would account for the popularity of plastic products, not their inappropriate usage and disposal. I used to think it was silly to have these movements in various places to ban plastic bags, but more and more I'm thinking its a good idea. Apparently 10% of all the plastic we produce every year ends up as trash in the Ocean, where it ends up killing marine life. D:

    Anyhow, on topic, I'd say the greatest invention of the 20th century would be either antibiotics or vaccines. Yes, I'm aware some vaccines existed prior to the 20th century, but the 20th century saw a huge amount of advancement.

  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    AS_hellion wrote: »
    I'll go with chlorinated water. Pretty much eliminated all those nasty water borne diseases in one fell swoop.

    Yeah, water treatment is really underappreciated for how important it really is. In 2000 there were about 140,000 cases of just Cholera, essentially all of which could have been prevented just by chlorination.

    140,000 where? Cholera is rampant anywhere you can't buy a legit copy of Panic! At the Disco's latest album. 140K strikes me as an underestimation...

    Wikipedia says globally, but those are just cases notified to the WHO. 87% of them were in Africa.

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Wait. Vaccines? Antibiotics? How could those be the greatest inventions when they are the greatest hoaxes of all time?

  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Lilnoobs wrote: »
    Wait. Vaccines? Antibiotics? How could those be the greatest inventions when they are the greatest hoaxes of all time?

    That article makes me ill.

    But if I had to say one thing? Penicillin.

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    Battlenet - Alecthar#1714
  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Lilnoobs wrote: »
    Wait. Vaccines? Antibiotics? How could those be the greatest inventions when they are the greatest hoaxes of all time?

    D:

    can we just pretend this post never happened please

    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
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