What do you think is the most important
invention of the last 2000 years?

Give us your answers - BELOW

An approach to the question
, from t
he physicist and writer Freeman Dyson: "My suggestion is not original. I don't remember who gave me the idea, but it was probably Lynn White, with Murray Gell-Mann as intermediary. The most important invention of the last two thousand years was hay. In the classical world of Greece and Rome and in all earlier times, there was no hay. Civilization could exist only in warm climates where horses could stay alive through the winter by grazing. Without grass in winter you could not have horses, and without horses you could not have urban civilization. Some time during the so-called dark ages, some unknown genius invented hay, forests were turned into meadows, hay was reaped and stored, and civilization moved north over the Alps. So hay gave birth to Vienna and Paris and London and Berlin, and later to Moscow and New York."

  • In answering the question much depends on definitions.
  • You have to stay within that 2,000 year limit.
  • And you really should limit yourself to just one answer per person.
  • Clearly ‘important’ does not necessarily mean ‘good’


The contraceptive pill
Atomic power- including the atom bomb

Here are some attempts, of which you may approve or which may inspire you to do better

The battery - consciousness pundit, Daniel C. Dennett
The smell of sulphur as a gas, which sparked a revolution in the study of chemistry – computer scientist Marvin Minsky

Anesthetics - Stuart Hameroff, an anesthetist, based in America. His argument: think of an alternative, compare it with anesthetics and ask yourself which you would rather do without

Some choices from in or around Starlab

The zero
The microprocessor
Flight - the aeroplane as the realisation of a dream
The telephone and television
The wind-up radio
'It may be banal but we all know it’s the computer'
Double-entry book-keeping – which made it possible for one person to run a business

Cheap contraception

The discovery of the link between malaria and the mosquito

The movable-type printing press

The small pox vaccine

Aqueducts for sewage disposal

Chlorine tablets for water purification

And if you accept concepts or ideas as inventions…:

Democracy, social justice, and the belief in the possibility of creating a society free from the oppressions of class, race, and gender - Steven Rose, neurobiologist, Richard Dawkins, geneticist, Esther Dyson internet spokesperson And a number of others had ideas in a similar vein, applauding civil rights, feminism etc Western music, especially that of Mozart - Howard Gardner, professor of Education, Harvard
Even if you are not religious, and even if this idea has not exactly taken hold in a practical way around the world, it is still a rather electrifying invention to make the statement: Love thy enemy.