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Five Discoveries That Completely Transformed Our Planet

Although it is hard to highlight all of the innovations that changed the course of history, there are a few that stand out as being clearly revolutionary. There are a great number of innovations that have had a significant impact on people's lives, but the following five are ones on which virtually everyone can agree.

The Spinning Hub

There are those who believe the wheel to be the most significant development in human history. The idea of a rolling cylinder wasn't inconceivable to begin with, but putting one together presented some difficulties. A permanent axle was required for the mechanism to function properly. The holes in the wheels and the ends of the axle required to be round and smooth so that they could be joined together to form a fixed axle with rotating wheels. To achieve good rotation, axles needed just the appropriate amount of tension to fit correctly into the wheel holes. Before the Sumerians in Mesopotamia devised the wheel, other crafts such as basket weaving, sewing needles, woven cloth, and the boat had already been developed. The invention of the wheel resulted in a variety of additional developments, such as wheelbarrows and chariots, and altered the way in which people worked, traveled, and lived. Other technological advancements, such as mills and steamboats, as well as a couple of the innovations on this list, may all trace their origins back to the wheel, which is both simple and remarkable.

The Lift or the Lift

The origins of the mechanisms that enable vertical transport go back thousands of years. In 236 BC, the Greek mathematician Archimedes developed a crude elevator that was powered by ropes, pulleys, and a capstan. Archimedes' invention was first used in that year. The wild beasts that were kept beneath the Colosseum in ancient Rome were transported to the arena using a series of up to 28 lifts, each of which could hold 600 pounds and required as many as eight men to operate. In the year 1854, Elisha Otis constructed an elevator that included a safety mechanism for the first time. This was the beginning of the elevator as we know it today. His safety hoist kept elevators from tumbling to the ground in the event that a chain or rope snapped. The designs that his business produced at the time were revolutionary, and even now, the Otis Company is considered to be the most successful player in the elevator industry.

Invention of the Printing Press

Although the name Johannes Gutenberg is commonly associated with the invention of the printing press, he was not the first person to put printed material through a press. The earliest printed text ever discovered was a Buddhist scroll that was produced in China and written using block printing. However, in 1436, Gutenberg made improvements to printing that permanently altered the course of history. The printing machine developed by Gutenberg made use of metal blocks, with each letter being represented by its own block. Molds were developed in order to mass produce blocks of each letter. In addition to that, he made use of a wine press in order to apply consistent pressure to the metal type. His biggest feat was the production of 200 copies of the Bible using his press in under three years, which was an astonishingly quick pace for that time period. Gutenberg's press was never given the recognition it deserved during his lifetime; thus, he died destitute, and his creditors took custody of his presses after he passed away. But when he passed away, after the printing press gained popularity, books, pamphlets, and papers were more readily available and affordable, and literacy rates in Europe grew beyond the confines of the society's elites.


The idea of preventing disease by vaccination is rather ancient. The practice dates back to Buddhist monks who ingested snake venom and to people in China in the 17th century who purposefully exposed their skin to cowpox in an effort to protect themselves against smallpox, a disease that is closely related to cowpox but is much more lethal. But the British physician Edward Jenner was the one who laid the groundwork for the subject of vaccineology in 1796 when he developed the first vaccine against smallpox. From that point on, Louis Pasteur made significant contributions to the discipline by producing vaccinations against cholera, anthrax, and rabies. By 1970, there were individual vaccines available to treat potentially fatal cases of measles, mumps, and rubella; the following year, an American scientist named Maurice Hilleman combined these vaccines into a single formulation (MMR). Over the course of his career, Hilleman was responsible for the development of over 40 vaccines, including treatments for hepatitis A and B, meningitis, pneumonia, and many others. The discovery of vaccinations and their further development have helped save a significant number of lives all across the world.

The Personal Computer

It's difficult to conceive of a facet of modern civilization that the computer hasn't altered in some way, and that's saying a lot. Even while many people had a hand in developing what we now refer to as a computer, there are a few really brilliant minds who deserve special recognition. Charles Babbage, a mathematical prodigy, is credited with being the first person to propose the concept of an autonomous digital computer. He had a vision of a machine that would be able to carry out mathematical calculations and would also feature a memory unit. His concept, which he called the analytical engine, incorporated features that are found in modern computers. In 1946, John William Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert were responsible for a significant advance that was made possible by their work. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was the first ever general-purpose computer, and it was developed by two scientists working at the University of Pennsylvania (ENIAC). After a disagreement regarding a patent, Mauchly and Eckert left the university and went on to establish their own business. It is essential to keep in mind that the contributions of six female programmers, who are not as well known as their male counterparts, were essential to the development of the ENIAC.

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