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已有 5872 次阅读 2012-9-9 22:42 |个人分类:科普集锦|系统分类:科研笔记|关键词:学者| 发明, style, 十大


Top 10 Inventions that Changed the World



An Oldowan tool, the earliest type of stone tool. These were used by hominins in Africa from 2.6 million years ago up until 1.7 million years ago.

A history of ingenuity

Humans are an ingenious species. From the moment someone bashed a rock on the ground to make the first sharp-edged tool, to the development of Mars rovers and the Internet, several key advancements stand out as particularly revolutionary. These are our picks for the 10 most important inventions of all time.

Wheels were invented circa 3, 500 B.C., and rapidly spread across the Eastern Hemisphere.

Credit: James Steidl | Shutterstock

The wheel

Before the invention of the wheel in 3500 B.C., humans were severely limited in how much stuff we could transport over land, and how far. Wheeled carts facilitated agriculture and commerce by enabling the transportation of goods to and from markets, as well as easing the burdens of people traveling great distances. Now, wheels are vital to our way of life, found in everything from clocks to vehicles to turbines.

Old handmade nails.

Credit: alexcoolok | Shutterstock

The nail

Without nails, civilization would surely crumble. This key invention dates back more than 2, 000 years to the Ancient Roman period, and became possible only after humans developed the ability to cast and shape metal. Previously, wood structures had to be built by interlocking adjacent boards geometrically — a much more arduous construction process.

Meanwhile, the screw — a stronger but harder-to-insert fastener — is thought to have been invented by the Greek scholar Archimedes in the third century B.C.

Model of a Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) south-indicating ladle, or sinan, made of polished lodestone.

Credit: Typo | Creative Commons

The compass

Ancient mariners navigated by the stars, but that method didn't work during the day or on cloudy nights, and so it was unsafe to voyage far from land.

The Chinese invented the first compass sometime between the 9th and 11th century; it was made of lodestone, a naturally-magnetized iron ore, the attractive properties of which they had been studying for centuries. (Pictured is a model of an ancient Chinese compass from the Han Dynasty; it is a south-indicating ladle, or sinan, made of polished lodestone.) Soon after, the technology passed to Europeans and Arabs through nautical contact. The compass enabled mariners to navigate safely far from land, increasing sea trade and contributing to the Age of Discovery.

A printing press from 1811, now in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. Two printers worked at each press; one moved pages on and off while the other inked the text blocks. Together they could print 3, 600 pages per day.

Credit: MatthiasKabel | Creative Commons

The printing press

The German Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440. Key to its development was the hand mold, a new molding technique that enabled the rapid creation of large quantities of metal movable type. Printing presses exponentially increased the speed with which book copies could be made, and thus they led to the rapid and widespread dissemination of knowledge for the first time in history. Twenty million volumes had been printed in Western Europe by 1500.

Among other things, the printing press permitted wider access to the Bible, which in turn led to alternative interpretations, including that of Martin Luther, whose "95 Theses" — a document printed by the hundred-thousand — sparked the Protestant Reformation.

A four-stroke internal combustion engine. 1) Intake stroke - air and vaporised fuel are drawn in. 2) Compression stroke - fuel vapor and air are compressed and ignited. 3) Power stroke - fuel combusts and piston is pushed downwards. 4) Exhaust stroke - exhaust is driven out.

Credit: Zephyris | Creative Commons

The internal combustion engine

In these engines, the combustion of a fuel releases a high-temperature gas, which, as it expands, applies a force to a piston, moving it. Thus, combustion engines convert chemical energy into mechanical work. Decades of engineering by many scientists went in to designing the internal combustion engine, which took its (essentially) modern form in the latter half of the 19th century. The engine ushered in the Industrial Age, as well as enabling the invention of a huge variety of machines, including modern cars and aircraft.

Pictured are the operating steps of a four-stroke internal combustion engine. The strokes are as follows: 1) Intake stroke - air and vaporised fuel are drawn in. 2) Compression stroke - fuel vapor and air are compressed and ignited. 3) Power stroke - fuel combusts and piston is pushed downwards, powering the machine. 4) Exhaust stroke - exhaust is driven out.

Alexander Graham Bell's Telephone patent drawing, from 1876. Bell's telephone was the first apparatus to transmit human speech via machine.

Credit: Public domain

The telephone

Though several inventors did pioneering work on electronic voice transmission (many of whom later filed intellectual property lawsuits when telephone use exploded), Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone in 1876. His patent drawing is pictured above.

The invention quickly took off, and revolutionalized global business and communication.

An original Edison light bulb from 1879 from Thomas Edison's shop in Menlo Park, Calif.

Credit: Terren | Creative Commons

The light bulb

When all you have is natural light, productivity is limited to daylight hours. Light bulbs changed the world by allowing us to be active at night. According to historians, two dozen people were instrumental in inventing incandescent lamps throughout the 1800s; Thomas Edison is credited as the primary inventor because he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb like the one above, in 1879.

As well as initiating the introduction of electricity in homes throughout the Western world, this invention also had a rather unexpected consequence of changing people's sleep patterns. Instead of going to bed at nightfall (having nothing else to do) and sleeping in segments throughout the night separated by periods of wakefulness, we now stay up except for the 7 to 8 hours allotted for sleep, and, ideally, we sleep all in one go.

First discovered in the lab in 1928, penicillin was being mass produced and advertised by 1944. This poster attached to a curbside mailbox offered advice to World War II servicemen: Penicillin cures gonorrhea in 4 hours.

Credit: National Institutes of Health


It's one of the most famous discovery stories in history. In 1928, the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-filled Petri dish in his laboratory with its lid accidentally ajar. The sample had become contaminated with a mold, and everywhere the mold was, the bacteria was dead. That antibiotic mold turned out to be the fungus Penicillium, and over the next two decades, chemists purified it and developed the drug Penicillin, which fights a huge number of bacterial infections in humans without harming the humans themselves.

Penicillin was being mass produced and advertised by 1944. This poster attached to a curbside mailbox advised World War II servicemen to take the drug to rid themselves of venereal disease.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptives.

Credit: Public domain


Not only have birth control pills, condoms and other forms of contraception sparked a sexual revolution in the developed world by allowing men and women to have sex for leisure rather than procreation, they have also drastically reduced the average number of offspring per woman in countries where they are used. With fewer mouths to feed, modern families have achieved higher standards of living and can provide better for each child. Meanwhile, on the global scale, contraceptives are helping the human population gradually level off; our number will probably stabilize by the end of the century. Certain contraceptives, such as condoms, also curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Natural and herbal contraception has been used for millennia. Condoms came into use in the 18th century, while the earliest oral contraceptive — "the pill" — was invented in the late 1930s by a chemist named Russell Marker.

Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. The length of the lines are indicative of the delay between those two nodes.

Credit: Creative Commons | The Opte Project

The Internet

It really needs no introduction: The global system of interconnected computer networks known as the Internet is used by billions of people worldwide. Countless people helped develop it, but the person most often credited with its invention is the computer scientist Lawrence Roberts. In the 1960s, a team of computer scientists working for the U.S. Defense Department's ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) built a communications network to connect the computers in the agency, called ARPANET. It used a method of data transmission called "packet switching" which Roberts, a member of the team, developed based on prior work of other computer scientists. ARPANET was the predecessor of the Internet.











    中国人在911世纪的某个时候发明了第一个指南针,它是用天然磁石制成,他们对这种自然磁化铁矿石具有吸引力的特性已经研究了几个世纪。 (上图是中国汉代发明的古代指南针,这是一个指南杓,或司南的模型,用抛光的天然磁石制成。)之后不久,该技术在航海接触中传给了欧洲人和阿拉伯人。指南针让水手们能远离陆地安全航行,促进了海上贸易,为大航海时代做出突出贡献。1811年的印刷机,现存放于德国慕尼黑德意志博物馆内。每台印刷机要有两个印刷工同时工作,一个翻页,另一个给文版上墨。他们一起每天可印3 600页。










    另外,印刷机让人们更广泛地接触到圣经,这反过来又导致了不同的释义,包括马丁·路德的,他的九十五条论纲” - 一个印刷了十万本的文献 - 引发了新教改革。四冲程内燃机。 1)进气冲程 - 吸入空气和汽化燃料。2)压缩冲程 - 燃料蒸气和空气被压缩并点燃。 3)动力冲程 - 燃料燃烧并向下推动活塞。 4)排气冲程 - 废气被排出。















    这是历史上最有名的发现故事之一。 1928年,苏格兰科学家亚历山大·弗莱明发现在他的实验室一个满是细菌的培养皿,盖子意外半开着。样品已被霉菌污染,随处可见霉菌,而细菌则已死去。 那种抗生素霉菌就是真菌青霉菌,在随后的二十年中,化学家对其加以提纯并开发出药物青霉素,对数量庞大的人类细菌感染具有杀伤力,而不伤害人类本身。






    天然和草药避孕方法已经使用了几千年。避孕套是在18世纪开始使用,而最早的口服避孕药 - “药丸” -则是在20世纪30年代后期由一个名叫罗素·马克的化学家发明的。在opte.org网站上看到的部分基于2005115数据的互联网地图。两个节点之间都画有一条线,代表两个IP地址。线的长度是表示这两个节点之间的延迟时间。







2 林中祥 曹小晶

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