What's the best impact engineers, scientists or inventors have made?
Image source the BBC
Anyone watching the new series of The Big Life Fix on BBC? Love seeing what these modern engineers and inventors are up to,
This got me thinking, what would I choose as the most significant and beneficial invention or development for mankind.
Fire, the wheel, electricity or something else? It's quite a hard choice as some really beneficial things have relied on other things being invented or discovered prior to their own conception.
Ok, my choice is medical, vaccination and antibiotics, they have transformed life for the better I'm sure you'll agree. But think about this, without glass, lenses couldn't be made, without lenses, we wouldn't have microscopes and without microscopes, we would never have known about the micro-bacterial life in the first place. So in my choice, glass moves to the top invention.
It's an interesting question, so if you have time please feel free to provide your answer in the comments below.
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If you are talking about the most significant invention/development, then mathematics is the sine qua non of engineering. More specifically, the idea that the world (dimensions, forces, actions etc.) can be represented abstractly and then manipulated in that form to allow you to create something (in the abstract) that has not existed before and then go out and build it with reasonable certainty that it will work as intended.
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With you on the impact of medical innovations, Greig, and glass — excellent choice. There'd also have been a whole lot of people bumping into things without it!
As for an original answer, I'd have to say modern chemistry. Mendeleev creating the periodic table of elements, along with others around that time and in the previous century, that marked the progression from alchemy to chemistry.
I would have to say the creation of the Internet Protocol suite (TCP/IP) which is credited to Vint Cerf & Bob Kahn. This formed the conceptual model of the Internet and led to the world becoming a more connected place than before.
More importantly, the first printing press by Gutenberg in 1440 allowed us to mass produce & disseminate human knowledge across Europe and later, to the rest of the world.
I think as a sheer feat of engineering, Concorde must be up there. A collaboration between two English and French companies, this was at a time with no CAD or electronic communication yet they were able to build an aircraft that flew for almost 30 years and provided supersonic flight to the public, agreed the very rich public.