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Key inventions

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Rigil Kent
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« on: July 21, 2012, 09:27:14 AM »

Please list up to 3 inventions of particular interest or importance to you that :-

1. were invented before you were born,
2. were invented during your lifetime, and
3. will hopefully still be invented during your lifetime.

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 10:07:17 AM »

Mine:

1. Lenses (Italy, c.1280), Wood fired oven (Mediterranean, Roman era), Archery (Several locations, ancient ... reportedly invented by the satyr Crotus, altough our own Bushmen might disagree)

2. Citalopram (1989), liquid-crystal display (Furgason, 1971), DVD (1995)
   I was surprised to learn that the magnetron (the active ingredient in microwave ovens) hails
   from the 1940's!)

3. An anti gravity suit (mostly for trimming the dead leaves off my palm trees),
   A pill that makes sleep unnecessary
   Efficient steam engines for private vehicles

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brianvds
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 12:08:59 PM »

Please list up to 3 inventions of particular interest or importance to you that :-

1. were invented before you were born,

Fire, writing, gunpowder, antibiotics.

Quote
2. were invented during your lifetime, and

The interwebs. Hubble Space Telescope. LEDs (I think).

Quote
3. will hopefully still be invented during your lifetime.

A cure for the #@%$$@#$ common cold.

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bobilus
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2012, 12:59:16 PM »

1. Vaccines, Transistor
2. Smart phones, HD tv, internet, Photonic-crystal fiber.
3. Teleportation, hyperdrive, immortality.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2012, 13:09:39 PM »

    1. The wheel, the printing press, calculus, complex numbers, the scientific method, NMRI, digital computing, ice cream, and rule-breaking.  (I know that’s more than three, but they’re all equally important Tongue ).
    2. RSA cryptography, quantum computing, and word processors.
    3. Controlled nuclear fusion, instant & error-free knowledge transfer, and workable moneyless societies.

'Luthon64
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2012, 13:10:45 PM »

3. Teleportation, hyperdrive, immortality.
Three big guns for sure! Although, with all the time we'll have at our disposal should immortality be realised first, it could be argued that the other two will become a bit unnecessary... Cheesy It will also wipe out the need for my anti-sleeping pill!

... calculus, complex numbers ...
By the way, I've noticed that some texts refer to novel mathematics as "discoveries" while others call it "inventions". Maybe it depends on one's view on whether mathematical truths exist independently of  their contemplation. Or perhaps there is no real difference between discovery and invention at all!

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« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 13:36:39 PM by Rigil Kent » Logged
Mefiante
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2012, 13:37:31 PM »

Calculus is a mathematical method (or a collection of them), not an object.  It was put together from pre-existent mathematics, and has enormous beauty and power.  As such, it’s very much an invention.  Admittedly, the situation with complex numbers is not so clear.  Initially, they were “invented” purely for the purpose of solving certain types of polynomials but their use exploded fruitfully into many other domains with astonishing pervasiveness.

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 13:45:33 PM »

Calculus is a mathematical method (or a collection of them), not an object.
That would make sense, yes. So when the Arabs discovered "zero", they actually invented nothing. Wink

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brianvds
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2012, 16:19:51 PM »

3. Teleportation, hyperdrive, immortality.

Damn. Hyperdrive's out of order again. You'll have to beam us all the way there, Scotty. Lucky thing we're immortal, or it would have been dangerous...
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brianvds
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2012, 16:21:56 PM »

Calculus is a mathematical method (or a collection of them), not an object.  It was put together from pre-existent mathematics, and has enormous beauty and power.  As such, it’s very much an invention.  Admittedly, the situation with complex numbers is not so clear.  Initially, they were “invented” purely for the purpose of solving certain types of polynomials but their use exploded fruitfully into many other domains with astonishing pervasiveness.
'Luthon64

I would think that once you have basic concepts like numbers and shapes, they have certain allowable logical consequences, and in a sense those are discovered rather than invented? But perhaps the boundary between discovery and invention is a bit fuzzy anyway. :-)

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Mefiante
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2012, 17:03:43 PM »

It’s true that the properties of numbers and other mathematical objects in conjunction with the rules and procedures by which they can be validly manipulated form the (idealised) mathematical universe of allowable possibilities.  To be sure, it’s a vast one, perhaps even an inexhaustible one.  But by the same token, matter, energy, space and time together with the laws of nature form the real universe.  Note that the nature of those real entities and those laws also exhausts the allowable possibilities of arranging real things, again in a vast array of possibilities.  Yet, we would not hesitate to call a novel and useful arrangement of those things an “invention.”  Why should the mere abstractness of mathematics set it apart in this peculiar and ultimately forced way?

(This reminds me of the story told about the sculptor who maintains that he “discovers” the statue in the block of marble he’s working on.)

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Tweefo
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2012, 17:46:32 PM »

I would like to see an automatic junk/spam remover. It must know it as junk without me telling it and remove it unseen by me and then spam the sender. A domestic worker robot would also be nice. Just done a load of dishes...
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brianvds
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2012, 06:13:51 AM »

Note that the nature of those real entities and those laws also exhausts the allowable possibilities of arranging real things, again in a vast array of possibilities.  Yet, we would not hesitate to call a novel and useful arrangement of those things an “invention.”

An invention is the discovery of a way to do or make something. :-)

As I said, the two terms probably overlap. I just rather like this notion of mathematical space existing "out there" somewhere, where it can be endlessly explored. It's like having a tourist attraction in your head, always available. :-)

Not that I often visit it - I suck at navigating my way through it and get lost in it all the time...
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2012, 07:39:18 AM »

and get lost in it all the time...
Tell me about it. Apparently there is a non-Euclidean branch of mathematics called taxicab geometry. I'm hoping that it offers an alternative to navigating by oneself! Wink

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brianvds
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2012, 08:32:04 AM »

and get lost in it all the time...

Tell me about it. Apparently there is a non-Euclidean branch of mathematics called taxicab geometry. I'm hoping that it offers an alternative to navigating by oneself! Wink

Rigil


And then there is my own personal favourite, bistromathics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bistromathic_Drive#Bistromathic_drive

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