In our era, the word innovation conjures up the image of the latest iPhone. When people hear the word technology, they immediately think about the recent space explorations. But there is more to applied science than futuristic gizmos.
Technology is applied science. Throughout history, there have been advancements that make our lives comfortable. What makes these innovations marvelous is that most of them were made when superstitions were prevalent.
Of course, we cannot completely brush the PC aside. The personal computer has made our lives – both in school and at work – so convenient. But let us go back in time and discover the other inventions that made the modern world.
Inventions That Changed The World
- Vaccine – Doctors, scientists, and the WHO have told the public that the only way to end the pandemic is to have everyone vaccinated. This scientific miracle has stopped the last pandemic and can do the same thing for the current global catastrophe. But the bigger question here is, how was the vaccine created?
One can trace it as far back as 1000 AD in China. But this inoculation process was not safe and was eventually banned by some Chinese emperors. Other countries continued inoculating their public which brought this medical curiosity to the shores of England.
Several British physicians studied cowpox and noticed that those infected with it were immune to smallpox. One of these doctors, by the name of Edward Jenner, eventually created the very first vaccine. The invention of the nir spectrometer also played a key role as these devices are important for the production of vaccines.
- Antibiotics – Can you imagine a world without antibiotics? Our ancestors surely wished that they had this because this wonder drug has saved a lot of lives.
Alexander Fleming discovered antibiotics by chance. Although several scientists ahead of him have worked on creating medicine to tackle pathogens, he was the first one to successfully understand the wondrous effect of the Penicillium mold.
Two of his forerunners had already noticed that the mold prevented bacterial growth. Inspired by their progress, he left several culture plates with bacteria before leaving for vacation. They were placed away from direct sunlight. Upon returning, he noticed that one of the culture plates developed a mold.
Upon closer inspection, he noted that the bacteria in the contaminated culture plate was no longer growing. This observation led to the conclusion that the mold killed the bacteria.
- Printing Press – The other technological advancement would not have been possible without the printing press. Johann Gutenberg’s invention made literacy available to the public at large because books became cheap to produce.
In the past, most books were copied by hand. Although block printing was already available, the process was labor-intensive. Both techniques meant that books were only available to the elite.
Johann Guttenberg began working on a machine that had detachable letter-blocks. When the instrument successfully produced a copy of a Latin book in 1450, it meant that books could be commercially printed.
- Electric Light – Who could ever forget one of Thomas Edison’s brainchild? Although we would still have light even without it, the light bulb made it safer.
Our ancestors had used the hearth to keep warm and to light up their homes at night. Unfortunately, it was not portable. Then there was also the problem with the smoke.
As technology progressed, they replaced the hearth with the handy kerosene lamp to light their way in the evening. But this, too, posed serious problems. Kerosene lamps were one of the main reasons for fire during the 19th century.
The electric light bulb was a game-changer. It was not only because it was safe. But people can install it anywhere in their homes.
- Automobile – The car changed the world. It did not only make movement easier for the common man. But it made trade run smoothly.
Several mechanical vehicles have been created before Karl Benz introduced the modern car. As early as the 17th century, a Jesuit created one for a Chinese emperor. In the 18th century, several attempts were made. Although these contraptions can run, they have bogged down with problems such as maintaining steam pressure.
On New Year’s Eve 1879, Karl Benz successfully ran his invention. He was granted a patent later that year for the first-ever gasoline-run engine.
Technology is amazing. Scientific advancement has brought humanity to the moon. It also lit up parts of our house where the moonlight cannot reach.
Everything that has made our lives comfortable would not be possible without the aforementioned technological achievement. The next time that you hear the word technology, you might want to consider the seemingly crude machines of the past.