Best invention of the 20th century

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  • #26
DaveC426913
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Depends, how long would it take to check out 100 plus items in a super market without it?
As someone who is old enough to remember this: not all that much longer.
How would the postal services (at least in the UK) track parcels so efficiently?
A little less efficiently than they did beforehand.

These are incremental changes. Convenience.

Compare to transistors that have created whole new industries - and then whole mega-industries just to service those industries - that have been created by modern electronics.

And the output of those sub-industries has defined our Age:

It ain't called The information Age for nothin'.
 
  • #27


A little less efficiently than they did beforehand.
Not sure that's actually mathematically possible
 
  • #28
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ok, i think i have a slightly less retarded answer now. i'm going to go with control theory. which isn't strictly a single "invention", but the work of several people. still, it comes presented to engineers as a mostly unified framework (at least for linear systems), and most of the work was done in the 20th century. it was control theory that allowed much of the modern inventions to come to flourish. with control, you get efficient design, efficient manufacture, predictable outcomes, and safe operation. and i would further claim that efficiency, predictability, and safety are hallmarks of modernity. much of what we take for granted about the world around us now comes thanks to control.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_theory
 
  • #29
Mech_Engineer
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Sorry, I don't think Control Theory counts:

Wikipedia.org said:
Although control systems of various types date back to antiquity, a more formal analysis of the field began with a dynamics analysis of the centrifugal governor, conducted by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1868 entitled On Governors.[1]
...
This generated a flurry of interest in the topic, during which Maxwell's classmate Edward John Routh generalized the results of Maxwell for the general class of linear systems.[2] Independently, Adolf Hurwitz analyzed system stability using differential equations in 1877, resulting in what is now know as the Routh-Hurwitz theorem.[3][4]
 
  • #30
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As someone who is old enough to remember this: not all that much longer.
There's a shop near me that the staff used to remember the prices of every item (Aldi) and they could go through an entire cart load of items quicker than tesco staff ever could. Truly amazing to watch. However, they are now on barcodes so it's a feat of nature you never get to see anymore.

I don't think this applies to everyone though and was something of a unique case for such a big shop to have staff that could do this, and I certainly don't see how reading and typing up 100 prices is only slightly slower than scanning the barcodes.

A little less efficiently than they did beforehand.

These are incremental changes. Convenience.
As above

Compare to transistors that have created whole new industries - and then whole mega-industries just to service those industries - that have been created by modern electronics.

And the output of those sub-industries has defined our Age:

It ain't called The information Age for nothin'.
I never said I don't agree with the transistor or that the barcode is better than it (it ain't, transistors truly are one of the greats), but I also don't think the barcode is such a minor invention.

EDIT: A lot of things these days are designed for our convenience more than anything and some really are good inventions.
 
  • #31
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Sorry, I don't think Control Theory counts:
yes, there are some small beginnings of it in the 19th century, but the bulk of it, and the development of Control Theory as a systematic tool of the engineer, happened in the 20th century. that's my answer, and i'm not changing it.

Many active and historical figures made significant contribution to control theory, including, for example:

* Alexander Lyapunov (1857–1918) in the 1890s marks the beginning of stability theory.
* Harold S. Black (1898–1983), invented the concept of negative feedback amplifiers in 1927. He managed to develop stable negative feedback amplifiers in the 1930s.
* Harry Nyquist (1889–1976), developed the Nyquist stability criterion for feedback systems in the 1930s.
* Richard Bellman (1920–1984), developed dynamic programming since the 1940s.
* Andrey Kolmogorov (1903–1987) co-developed the Wiener-Kolmogorov filter (1941).
* Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) co-developed the Wiener-Kolmogorov filter and coined the term cybernetics in the 1940s.
* John R. Ragazzini (1912–1988) introduced digital control and the z-transform in the 1950s.
* Lev Pontryagin (1908–1988) introduced the maximum principle and the bang-bang principle.
they shouldn't have left out Bode: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrik_Wade_Bode
 
  • #32
Mech_Engineer
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yes, there are some small beginnings of it in the 19th century, but the bulk of it, and the development of Control Theory as a systematic tool of the engineer, happened in the 20th century. that's my answer, and i'm not changing it.
Agree to disagree :approve:

they shouldn't have left out Bode: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrik_Wade_Bode
It's Wikipedia, add him in yourself!
 
  • #33
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First can i say thank you for the positive response!

Second i just wana say something about this post...

  1. Penicillin (1928)
  2. Electric Air Conditioner (1902)
  3. Nuclear Reactor (1942), Nuclear Weapons (1945)
1) I never thought of penicillin and now i am wondering why the hell not!!! Maybe i was going too far along the idea of electricity (as that is one of the clear favourites, with internet/ TV/ Computers)...so thank you A LOT for putting the medical side of things back into my head.

2) I have seen a few people put Electric Air Conditioner, but i don't see what is so good about it, can u tell me why?

3) And, Nuclear Weapons is a great invention?...lol...but i don't wana go into that, just thought it a bit funny that u put it down, however agree with nuclear reactor

LAST, i don't think i can include the control theory as i was mainly talking about more material goods, however like the abstract idea!! thx
 
  • #34
Mech_Engineer
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1) I never thought of penicillin and now i am wondering why the hell not!!! Maybe i was going too far along the idea of electricity (as that is one of the clear favourites, with internet/ TV/ Computers)...so thank you A LOT for putting the medical side of things back into my head.
Also look into things like DDT. It saved literally tens of millions of people from dying of malaria... until it was tragically banned on poor scientific evidence.

2) I have seen a few people put Electric Air Conditioner, but i don't see what is so good about it, can u tell me why?
Opened up much more of the US to comfortable living, upped the standard of living, expanded popularity of domestic electric appliances.

3) And, Nuclear Weapons is a great invention?...lol...but i don't wana go into that, just thought it a bit funny that u put it down, however agree with nuclear reactor
Maybe before you scoff at nuclear weapons you should define "great." It's definitely one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century. More significant than nuclear reactors IMO due to their widespread social and political ramifications.
 

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