'Great inventions in my lifetime: have there been any?' blog discussion



  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert Posts: 8,273
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    Hahahaha! Oh Martin, you are such a luvvie! Fact is if I said carbon nanotubes you'd say "what use are they to me?", but because people cite development rather than fundamental discoveries you say "innovation" rather than invention. What's the betting you've refered to MSE as your invention from time to time.

    Fact is scientists are treated like dirt in this country. It surprises me not you have no idea of inventions. Can you name the inventor of the liquid crystal display on your mobile? Can you tell me who invented the GPS system in your car? Can you tell me who invented the cellular technology that allows you to use a mobile phone? Of course you can't. But I bet you know who wrote "I predict a riot". Wanna know why the country is about to become nothing more than a theme park?

    Actually I can't name who wrote I predict a riot either - i know more about inventions than i do about music (that's not saying much). ;)

    I'm certainly not decrying innovation or even that on many occassions its how things are implemented that's more important than the original concept. Yet in this case it is the original concept - the something totally new - I wanted to focus on.

    I've always been a more science thinker than art (and certainly not a luvvie). Yet here the difficulty is picking one thing that will be remembered in 100 years in the same way we talk now about penicillin or the TV. I think the internet is certainly a candidate, but the question there is simply one of 'when was it born'.

    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
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  • MothballsWallet
    MothballsWallet Forumite Posts: 15,848
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    Martin - "I predit a riot" was The Kaiser Chiefs.

    MP3 players are brilliant, aren't they - although mine has this "feature" where if you press the buttons in a certain way, it wipes all of my music from its solid state memory - luckily, it's got a FM radio tuner in it too, or I'd be bored out of my skull on the bus... :D
  • *MF*
    *MF* Forumite Posts: 3,113
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    MSE_Martin wrote: »
    <snip> Yet here the difficulty is picking one thing that will be remembered in 100 years in the same way we talk now about penicillin or the TV. I think the internet is certainly a candidate, but the question there is simply one of 'when was it born'.


    Looking back now over 100 years - we laugh at the idea of a man with a red flag walking in front of a car - more specifically it perhaps marked the beginning of our dependency on oil.

    So looking back on us 100 years from now - I suspect they will cry rather than laugh - at that very dependency on carbon, but (I fervently hope) they will see the major development in our use of hydrogen fuel cells, not just for cars but in many other fields.

    If I had to choose one thing that matches the kind of significant historical value seen 100 years from now - it would be the hydrogen fuel cell - but hey, major problem - the hydrogen fuel cell was invented in the 1830's.

    Just kinda sad that we chose a finite resource rather than use the most abundant element in the universe. :obut better late than never!
    If many little people, in many little places, do many little things,
    they can change the face of the world.

    - African proverb -
  • girleight@
    girleight@ Forumite Posts: 213 Forumite
    Martin, following your reasoning the computer is not an invention of the last century as Babbage produced the difference engine in 1832. So would you say the computer is just an innovation becuase it was not a new concept?

    If we are talking new technology then the mobile phone is just as much an invention as compared to the landline as the computer compared to the differnce engine.

    Most inventions are a process rather than a precise moment of inspiration so it seems reasonable to claim that the internet is an invention within your lifetime.
  • cashflow
    cashflow Forumite Posts: 65 Forumite
    Reminds me of a joke I heard: three old fellows started to discuss what they thought were the best inventions ever. First fellow says 'aircraft, and how they have 'shrunk' the world. Second fellow says 'synthetic hearts'. Third fellow says 'thermos flask' The other two look at him in amazement. 'What's so special about a thermos flask? All it does is keep hot things hot, and cold things cold!' 'Ah,' says the third fellow. 'But how does it actually know how to do that!' Sorry..................:rotfl:
  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Forumite Posts: 15,122
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    Genetic engineering - more specifically GM foods. I don't think we'll ever feed the world, but it's the only way we'll get anywhere close.

    "Invented" in 1973 - creation of E Coli bacteria expressing a salmonella gene.

    I beg to differ. The same understandings of the genome that made GM crops possible have been further developed to produce technologies such as molecular markers, marker-assisted selection, molecular breeding. These are far more powerful tools for creating crop plants that meet human needs, and do not have the appearance of being somehow "unnatural" that has made so many people unhappy about using GM. More to the point, they do not rely on a process that Monsanto has patented and so can be used without paying high fees to that company and so extending a global monopoly.
  • drlarios
    drlarios Forumite Posts: 4 Newbie
    The MRI scanner - allowing us to see the dynamics of the brain like never before - it's an amazing invention but it probably hasn't changed the world yet but the technology is advancing and one of the interesting developments is in being able to 'see' whether people are lying. I think the developments coming out of the MRI may well change the world in my lifetime.
  • Dill
    Dill Posts: 1,743 Forumite
    There's an Indian lady (Alka Zadgaonkar) who takes waste plastic and recycles it back into fuel oil. This could be a brilliant invention, given that many of our landfill sites are full or filling up rapidly, and plastics, as a general rule, don't always get recycled here.
  • JimmyTheWig
    JimmyTheWig Forumite Posts: 12,199
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    How about the "Graphical User Interface" (or GUI)?

    I'd say that was early 80s (Apple).

    Without it I doubt the internet would be the success it is today.

    Though according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface they've got some sort of similar system dating to the 60s (based on work in 1945). Grrr.
  • Lynneth
    Lynneth Forumite Posts: 63 Forumite
    Although just slightly before my time, the ATM machine has to be up there (1968/69).

    1969 was obviously a good year, because, as well as me, the world got the first battery powered home smoke alarm (1969) - that surely has to be a contender.
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