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85 Big Ideas that Changed the World

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the mass-spectrometer dept.

Technology 524

ccnull writes "Forbes just put out its well thought-out list of 85 breakthroughs since 1917 (sneakers) that have revolutionized the way we live. This is interesting on a number of levels -- crazy trivia (the microprocessor and the answering machine invented in the same year!?), a reminder of the past (the modem: 1962), and a frightening realization that not much of interest has come out of the last 10 years (a whopping 4 of the 85 ideas). Easily digestible and worth discussing."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930888)

worth a nothing better to do.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930894)

World changes You!!!


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930900)

No, in Soviet Russia, big Ideas change YOU!

Doobies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930898)


Recent Ideas (5, Insightful)

SpamJunkie (557825) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930902)

The reason that our more recent ideas aren't on the list is because we don't know which are the good ones yet. Hindsight is needed to appreciate what we've been doing.

Re:Recent Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930909)

Either that or they are just too boring or complicated to mention

Re:Recent Ideas (5, Insightful)

nedwidek (98930) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930950)

The best example (from the list) of this is 1947 Cell Phone. How long did it take for that to revolutionize the world?

Re:Recent Ideas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931103)

Has it revolutionized the world? I've never used a cell phone in my life and have no intention of ever buying one. There are pay-phones on almost every corner everywhere in the world.

Re:Recent Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931132)

Yes. Except for you, it has revolutionized the world.

Exactly (3, Interesting)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930985)

Don't forget that the folks at Ma Bell saw little use for the transistor, so they licensed it cheap to Sony and other Japanese companies, who proceeded to get rich selling transistor radios. Anyone making a list in, say, 1955, might well have left the 1947 invention of the transistor off.

Also, some of Forbes' choices are strange: tetraethyl lead? This did not "change the way we live".

tetraethyl lead (2, Informative)

misfit13b (572861) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931086)

tetraethyl lead? This did not "change the way we live".

Sure it did! It "lead" the way for all of those "Unleaded Fuel Only" stickers that almost all of us have on our dashboards. I dunno about you, but I sure sleep better at night knowing that's there.


Tetraethyl lead (5, Interesting)

smagoun (546733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931121)

Believe it or not, tetraethyl lead did change the way you live - it's just that the change probably happened before you were born, so you don't notice it. Tetraethyl lead was used as a additive to gasoline; it prevented internal combustion engines from "knocking." Knock is otherwise known as detonation or "abnormal combustion." It is one of the main limiting factors when trying to tune gasoline engines for maximum performance, efficiency, etc. Knock also severly degrades reliability and longevity of these engines.

The discovery that tetraethyl lead could prevent knock was huge leap forward; it was a huge boost to the automotive industry, since it allowed manufacturers to build safer/more reliable/more powerful/etc engines.

These days all we hear about are the health risks of tetraethyl lead (it's toxic as hell), but back in the early 1900's it was seen as a tremendous leap forward. Without it, cars, airplanes, etc would be very different today.

Re:Recent Ideas (2)

_ph1ux_ (216706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931064)

Ya - in the not too distant future we'll all look back fondly of the days of the DMCA, RIAA and MPAA and realize that those, along with the advent of real copy protection on CDs and other Digital Media - are by far the best and most innovative ideas ever concocted by the human race.... or maybe not.

Re:Recent Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931131)

One obvious ommission in the '80's

Anyone here think of anything that has revolutionised the work-place more

Should have been 86 ideas.. (2, Funny)

Choco-man (256940) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930904)

They left out the filter that automatically removes posts that begin with:

"In Soviet Russia.."


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930937)

posts automatically REMOVE YOU.

Re:Should have been 86 ideas.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930939)

In Soviet Russia... post filter you!

Re:Should have been 86 ideas.. (1)

cuyler (444961) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931076)

Unforuntately such a filter has not been implmented here.

Much noise, little activity (3, Insightful)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930906)

So am I the only one who is not surprised that the last ten years (supposedly the biggest technology boom in human history) have actually shown less progress than usual?

Re:Much noise, little activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930961)

Well, to many of us here on /. Linux was pretty much the only good original IDEA. You see, there was a technology boom, not an idealogical or conceptual boom. Everything that this boom in technology was based on was recycled ideas from the 80's (and to me it was a better decade than the 90's or last ten years).

Re:Much noise, little activity (2)

buswolley (591500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930977)

tge problems we are solving this decade are muc larger and much more fundamental than in the past. Decoding and understanding the humen genome, and all the complexities of interacting proteins, etc.. is a huge and daunting task. But the rewards will be so large, that all of themedical breakthroughs thus far throughout medical history will be but a grain of sand on a beach trillions. And I dont think I exagerate. Give this decade some time.

We might be making crappier toasters than in 1958. But we sure know how to be more efficient in making bad ones.

Re:the poster knows how to spell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931032)

but not type, I assure you.

Re:Much noise, little activity (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931058)

Give this decade some time.

Ok, I'll give it another 7 years and 11 days

Re:Much noise, little activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931057)

I dunno, I suppose there are other smart-ass dorks lamenting the decline of civilization.

Re:Much noise, little activity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931059)

Don't confuse information technology with just plain old technology.

Not much in the last 10 years (1, Insightful)

cxreg (44671) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930912)

could it be, that rather than being few inventions of interest, that we really need a more more decades of perspective to figure out what WAS significant? Maybe some things were invented but haven't quite caught on to mainstream yet? I mean, who would have said in 1968 that the modem was a big deal?

World changing things don't happen immediately (0, Redundant)

ggruschow (78300) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930916)

One reason that the 1990s probably didn't make as much of a showing as one would hope is that such things often take a while to change the world. If the list was written in 1972, I doubt the modem would've been on it. The same list 50 years from now very well have more than 4 contributions from the 1990s.

Actually, let's hope that we make such astounding advances in the next 50 years that whatever cool stuff we did in the 1990s is dwarfed in comparison.

The last ten Years (2)

buswolley (591500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930917)

This is a list of ideas/inventions that revolutionized, correct. It is hard to revolutionize within ten years. Our total knowledge is doubling every 4 years or so. (Kinda like that other famous law, mr M>) Give this decade some time. There are lots going on. And we are working on larger more difficult problems than ever before.

Practical Uses From Knowledge (3, Insightful)

kvn299 (472563) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931065)

In addition, during the last 20 years, we've made some astonishing progress in scientific knowledge. In a sense, I feel that this progress is outpacing our culture's ability to "digest" it. Although it seems like applications of new knowledge are quickly applied, in most cases it's not always cost-effective for a great many people. And sometimes this technology has consequences that stand in the way of quick adoption once the technology does become affordable.

Just rambling... some food for thought

Recent Breakthroughs need time (1)

bwindle2 (519558) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930919)

Did anyone think the microprocessor would have a huge impact when it was invented?

I'd speculate that most things need a decade or two in order for their impact to really be realized.

well duh... (1)

voisine (153062) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930924)

The reason fewer things have happened
in the last 10 years is because the
things invented this last decade that
will change the world haven't had a
chance to yet. The microprocessor didn't
revolutionize the world until many
years after it was invented.

Gosh, a slowdown of monumental ideas?! (1)

SledgeHBK (148480) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930925)

It's the armegeddon! We're all screwed!

The last ten years (1)

dr3vil (604180) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930926)

I don't think that the fact that so few of the ideas were generated in the last 10 years means that we've suddenly lost our ability to produce world-changing inventions. Things take time to demonstrate their worth - I'm betting that in 25 years time the list will look very different. Web services anyone?

Frightening? (0, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930928)

4 out of 85 is 4.7%. 10 years is 10%. So the last 10 years have only had about half as many breakthroughs as it "should have". Except how soon are we supposed to know they are breakthroughs? Did they know sneakers were a breakthrough in 1918? Or was it maybe the 1950's when sneakers hit it big?

I predict that the 1990's are going to be remembered when technology exploded (in a good way). Hopefully they'll remember one of the websites that was in the vanguard of reporting on that massive change, Slashdot. Kudos to you, Slashdot, for being the communication medium of choice for the most effective agents of change the world has ever seen!

Re:Frightening? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931034)

And kudos to you for either being a shitty troll or a drool-mouthed retard.

Not really that frightening. (5, Insightful)

Ouroboro (10725) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930930)

and a frightening realization that not much of interest has come out of the last 10 years (a whopping 4 of the 85 ideas).

It may be a little early to write off the last 10 years. Let's wait another 10 years before we decide that only 4 things from the last 10 years are significant enought to change the world

Great Ideas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930931)


The Bell Curve chart from the "Bell Curve" on pg 488 specifies "White IQ". It is noted by Psychologists, Anthropologists, and Educators, that IQ testing in America has been geared towards White Culture, and that Black Culture IQ may have been misrepresented. I myself am in the White majority, but am all for Equality: regardless of Race, Creed, Color, National Origin, Financial or Social Sataus, Job Classification (I say "yes sir", and you may be in charge, I follow directions; but we are equals, no rage, no superior inferior levels, I am no slave), Age (respect for the elderly, and kids are equal too, not above nor below us), regardless of gender (mens lib please), gender prefrence (I am hetero, not gay; but to each their own), regardless of species (animal rights promoter, as was Albert Einstein), God granted life to us all, big and small, let us all COEXIST in peace and harmony.


In fact, I as a high IQ person have had many intelligent conversations with intelligent persons who have dark skin pigmentation, who have been forced into a subgroup of society, only due to skin pigmentation, while Anthropologists say there are much more important factors of differences than skin tones (people from origins of lands rich in Iron Oxide I do believe, thats all it is, untill Aggressions of Society use skin tone as a poor excuse).


Many Intlligent Blacks are found in the world of Jazz. Highly intelligent music Jazz, not an easy task to play, I know, I have an AA in Fine Arts Music, and Jazz is way more complex than Rock or Western, And then there was Gershwin, absolute genius.


There is also great prejudice against the 20% of all persons who are Right Brain Dominant / Left Handed persons (musicians, artists), even if they were taught to write with their right. And there is prejudice against High IQ persons (as we are greatly outnumbered).


You may have met some hostile Blacks, that is because of the prejudice they have faced (dependant upon where they were raised, Georgia? or England?, makes a big difference). They have been forced into their own little world/culture, which IQ tests do not account for. This explains the small 8 to 10 point difference listed in some books (not much anyway).


Blacks don't seem less intelligent than whites to me (and I am around 45 to 50 points above average, and White). But we have to realize that in this world of War, Road Rage, Domestic Disputes, Employment Disputes, You can't even walk in a public place without rudeness, that this is Aggression. Color of skin is just a convienient excuse. The real answer lies in a proper diet (as per Albert Einstein and many others), which very few get (avoidance of red meats, better yet avoidance of all meats, so the doctors have told me).

Re:Great Ideas (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931019)

This is a beautiful goddamn post you fucking fags.

In Russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930935)

We dream of a beowulf cluster of these...

Give it some time... (2)

GMontag (42283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930938)

. . . a frightening realization that not much of interest has come out of the last 10 years (a whopping 4 of the 85 ideas).

I seriously doubt that a similar list, composed in 1927, would include sneakers. No doubt there are dozens of inventions from the past 10 years that will be cherished 75 years from now.

BTW, I saw Steve Forbes speak on this topic on FOX News a week or 2 ago, did not read this article but remember the discussion.

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930941)

a frightening realization that not much of interest has come out of the last 10 years (a whopping 4 of the 85 ideas). Easily digestible and worth discussing."

Well now, I would first argue that with 85 years of study (2002-1917), and 85 discoveries, we are looking at 1 a year. By choosing to start in a year with several significant discoveries, we are causing the survey to be front heavy.

Second, I would argue that the increaisng popularity and complexity of free software (both as in speech and as in beer) should be recongnized, but that cannot be pinned down through one year. With the tireless evangelism of RMS and ESR and Linus and Bruce Perens and their ilk, along with the thousands, nay millions, of Slashdotters and OSS hackers, open source software is a truly viable alternative to commercial behemoths. That should really be recognized as the most significant event of the last decade or so.

Re:Hmm... (0, Flamebait)

nmg (614483) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931081)

Actually, socialism is nothing new. It has been destroying the world slowly since the 1800s.

86th Idea That Changed the World (2, Funny)

zulux (112259) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930942)

mmm.... errr... a...

Thumbnail galleries?

Anyone know (1)

zrk (64468) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930943)

When sliced bread came out? I'm sure it was the middle ages, and certainly much earlier than 1917.

Re:Anyone know (3, Informative)

KirkH (148427) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931044)

Sometime between 1912 and 1928 [] . By 1928 one was made that could slice and wrap.

I actually saw some Food Network show that mentioned it. It was a really big deal at the time, although I can't remember why. Probably because kids could no longer whine: "Waa! You cut him a bigger piece!"

Re:Anyone know (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931133)

It was a big deal because of the ability to mass-produce a major staple of our diet. Before that, it was either bake bread yourself, or buy it from the local bakery. So now it was much cheaper, as is the case with mass production. It didn't have much at all to do with the convenience factor.

If you've ever baked bread, you'd know its fairly time-consuming, and remember they didn't have EZ 1-2-3 breadmakers and premade breadmixes in those days either (Even with it takes a few hours).

Re:Anyone know (2, Informative)

uberslack (5984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931063)

1928 []

DMCA (0, Offtopic)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930947)

*This* is a breakthrough ! It'll change many things, sure.

what? (5, Funny)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930949)

No Segway?

Re:what? (4, Funny)

$rtbl_this (584653) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931096)

And no one-click shopping either! Philistines!

Something to keep in mind (2)

nizo (81281) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930958)

and a frightening realization that not much of interest has come out of the last 10 years (a whopping 4 of the 85 ideas).

Of course you should always keep in mind that rarely when something new comes around does it appear "world changing" right from the get-go. When they invented the microchip, did they envision a world of millions of interconnected computers where any ol' yahoo(tm) would be able to post his views for millions of people to view? It is often the later uses of something that you can't even forsee that change the world.

a whopping 4??? (1)

endoboy (560088) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930959)

based on the fact that the survey covers 85 years (1917-2002)one would have expected at most 10 of the "big ideas" to come in the last decade.

Given that we haven't had time yet to put recent innovations into perspective, the surprise to me is that as many as 4 of the acknowledged big ideas come in the last decade. This isn't proof that innovation is slowing down, it's just evidence of the fact that it takes time to recognize the importance of things--how many people thought sneakers were a big deal in 1925?

Only 4 ideas in the last decade (1)

Irishman (9604) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930962)

While I can soemwhat understand that fewer fundamental ideas were created in the latter half of the century (hard to compete with something like the phone) What is disturbing is that the only innovations from the tech world were online shopping and the web. The rest was in biotech. So much for the innovation that technology was supposed to give us.

only 4 in the past ten years? (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930966)

Is that becasue DOS has been dominating the home computer market for ten years?

I knew that Micro$oft was holding back the industry! (Soviet Russia didn't hold back nearly that much progress even though is just as incompetent.)

Maybe I should change my .sig to "I rather be dead than in a red butterfly suit!"

The problem with recent ideas... (5, Interesting)

sterno (16320) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930979)

The thing is that we don't have the perspective of history to indicate to us what will have long term relevance. I mean they listed Viagra on there. VIAGRA? I'm sorry, but the ability for an old man to get an erection is not one of the greatest innovations of the last 85 years.

One thing I didn't see on the list was nanotechnology, which is going to hugely impact the future. We're only seeing it in limited ways so far, but 10 or 20 years from now it's going to revolutionize a lot of things. Also, one thing I noticed was that, while a number of inventions like fiber optics were created some time ago, it's only recently that the implementations have borne practical fruit.

Re:The problem with recent ideas... (2, Flamebait)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931087)

Yes, but it is of interest to the owner of the magazine, and since it's privately owned, Mr. Forbes gets to decide what he does with his Capitalist Tool.

Re:The problem with recent ideas... (3, Funny)

bryanp (160522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931095)

VIAGRA? I'm sorry, but the ability for an old man to get an erection is not one of the greatest innovations of the last 85 years.

Depends. If you happen to be an 85 year old man who can't get an erection then it's one hell of an invention. Probably beats the internet all to hell.

Now we just need a pill that makes old men attractive to their wives again. :)

Re:The problem with recent ideas... (1)

phkamp (524380) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931120)

For the primary demographics of Forbes, Viagra is a major improvment in perceived life quality.

What good is it to be able to afford rental-blondes if you can't use them for anything ?

Re:The problem with recent ideas... (1)

bmeiers (191662) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931123)

They did list nanotechnology .... in a way ...

Viagra is the only way to get that little thing to move for many an old man. Nanotechnology at it's finest ;-)

Spandex (4, Funny)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930980)

Why isn't spandex on the list???? The person who invented that should get a few medals. Why, women actually WEAR the skintight stuff. Bless you, Mr. spandex.

Re:Spandex (5, Funny)

Pope (17780) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931047)

You apparently haven't been to a Wal-Mart recently. Many women who are wearing spandex shouldn't.

Re:Spandex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931102)

Just like anything else, it's the application. I seen it used for good and evil.

Lack of Recent Good Ideas (0, Interesting)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930983)

I think the lack of recent good ideas has been explained best by Ben Stein [] .

1) Allow schools to fall into useless decay. Do not teach civics or history except to describe America as a hopelessly fascistic, reactionary pit. Do not expect students to know the basics of mathematics, chemistry and physics. Working closely with the teachers' unions, make sure that you dumb down standards so that children who make the most minimal effort still get by with flying colors. Destroy the knowledge base on which all of mankind's scientific progress has been built by guaranteeing that such learning is confined to only a few, and spread ignorance and complacency among the many. Watch America lose its scientific and competitive edge to other nations that make a comprehensive knowledge base a rule of the society.

2) Encourage the making of laws and rules by trial lawyers and sympathetic judges, especially through class actions. Bypass the legislative mechanisms that involve elected representatives and a president. This will stop--or at least greatly slow down--innovation, as corporations and individuals hesitate to explore new ideas for fear of getting punished (or regulated to death) by litigation for any misstep, no matter how slight, in the creation of new products and services. Make sure that lawsuits against drugmakers are especially encouraged so that the companies are afraid to develop new lifesaving drugs, lest they be sued for sums that will bankrupt them. Make trial lawyers and judges, not scientists, responsible for the flow of new products and services.

3) Create a culture that blames the other guy for everything and discourages any form of individual self-restraint or self-control. Promote litigation to punish tobacco companies on the theory that they compel innocent people to smoke. Make it second nature for someone who is overweight to blame the restaurant that served him fries. Encourage a legal process that can kill a drug company for any mistakes in self-medication. Make it a general rule that anyone with more money than a plaintiff is responsible for anything harmful that a plaintiff does. Promulgate the pitiful joke that Americans are hereby exempt from any responsibility for their own actions--so long as there are deep pockets around to be rifled.

4) Sneer at hard work and thrift. Encourage the belief that all true wealth comes from skillful manipulation and cunning, or from sudden, brilliant and lucky strokes that leave the plodding, ordinary worker and saver in the dust. Make sure that society's idols are men and women who got rich from being sexy in public or through gambling or playing tricks, not from hard work or patience. Make the citizenry permanently envious and bewildered about where real success comes from.

5) Hold the managers of corporations to extremely lax standards of conduct and allow them to get off with a slap on the wrist when they betray the trust of shareholders. This will discourage thrift and investment and ensure that Americans will have far less capital to work with than other societies, while simultaneously developing that contempt for law and social standards that is the hallmark of failing nations. Hold the management of labor unions to no ethical standards.

6) While you're at it, discourage respect for law in every possible way. This will dissolve the glue that holds the nation together, and dissuade any long-term thinking. Societies in which the law can be clearly seen to apply to some and not to others are doomed to decay, in terms of innovation and everything else.

7) Encourage a mass culture that spits on intelligence and study and instead elevates drug use, coolness through sex and violence, and contempt for school. As children learn to be stupid instead of smart, the national intelligence base needed for innovation will simply vanish into MTV-land.

8) Mock and belittle the family. Provide financial incentives to people willing to live an isolated existence, vulnerable and frightened. This guarantees that men and women of sufficient character to bring about innovation will be psychologically stifled from an early age.

9) Develop a suicidal immigration policy that keeps out educated, hardworking men and women from friendly nations and, instead, takes in vast numbers of angry, uneducated immigrants from nations that hate us. This, too, leads to the shrinking of our knowledge base and the eventual disappearance of social cohesion.

10) Enact a tax system that encourages class antagonism and punishes saving, while rewarding indebtedness, frivolity and consumption. Tax the fruits of labor many times:

First tax it as income. Then tax it as real or personal property. Then tax it as capital gains. Then tax it again, at a staggeringly high level, at death. This way, Americans are taught that only fools save, and that it is entirely proper for us to have the lowest savings rate in the developed world. This will deprive us of much-needed capital for new investment, for innovation and our own personal aspirations. It will compel us to ask foreigners for ever more capital and allow them to own more of America. It will also promote an attitude of carelessness about the future and, once again, encourage disrespect for law.

11) Have a socialized medical system that scrimps on badly needed drugs and procedures, resorts to only the cheapest practices and discourages drug companies from developing new drugs by not paying them enough to cover their costs of experimentation, trial and error.

12) Elevate mysticism, tribalism, shamanism and fundamentalism--and be sure to exclude educated, hardworking men and women--to an equal status with technology in the public mind. Make sure that, in order to pay proper (and politically correct) respect to all different ethnic groups in America, you act as if science were on an equal footing with voodoo and history with ethnic fable.

Mr. Stein's cure? (2, Funny)

Queelix (635663) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931030)

Drop pants on TV.


Re:Lack of Recent Good Ideas: OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931082)

Why is this interesting, the article about Ben Stein's comments was on /. last weekend, please moderators, try to stay with the program...

Re:Lack of Recent Good Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931100)

13) The rising use of NewSpeak such as "misstep" instead of accurate words such as "mistake". We are dumbing down our language to avoid offending others.

Re:Lack of Recent Good Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931106)

except to describe America as a hopelessly fascistic, reactionary pit.

Given what the powers that be are doing now [] and plan to do in the future [] , this isn't far from the truth.

Re:Lack of Recent Good Ideas (1)

emd (25227) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931116)

Read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand!

Only 4 of the 85 ideas in last 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930984)

No connection of course to the increasing strenght of copyright and patent protections over the same period.

segway? (0, Offtopic)

justforaday (560408) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930987)

Any bets as to whether the segway will be on Forbes' list for 2012?

On the next list (2)

cmallinson (538852) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930988)

Creating a list that people will be interested in, and putting each item on one page, so that everybody who visits your site is views (items on list)*(ads per page) banner ads.

85 Big Ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4930990)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of.....each of these!

Thomas Midgley (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930991)

Interesting to read that Thomas Midgley was responsible for both Tetraethyl Lead ( fuel additive ) and Freon. He might end up on both this list and the Sierra Club's "bad guy" list if they had one.

BUSINESS breakthroughs (5, Insightful)

upstateguy (90019) | more than 11 years ago | (#4930992)

Forbes lists their top 85 *business* breakthroughs...which slants things so that sheetrock is listed whereas the theory of relativity is not.

Re:BUSINESS breakthroughs (1)

amevba (539993) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931061)

Indeed, it is a very selective list. I see nobody checking why *exactly* 85 masterpieces of minds were selected? (hint: RTFA) It is not just the freedom of choice, it is also about the multitude of choices available.

Yeah, but (2, Informative)

Geaus (317244) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931002)

New ideas are born out of necessity. The transistor was invented because vacuum tubes weren't going to cut it at any level with computers. They simply werent fast enough or reliable enough. So the transistor comes along and its one of the best inventions of the 20th century.

However we have been improving on this, and other ideas, for the last half century. Miniturization may not be a new idea or invention, but the continued process of improving an idea is just as important as the first step. Moores Law is starting to run out with computer chips, you can expect the search for quantum computing to become all the more critical when it does.

We haven't had many new ideas lately, maybe just because we are still working on the old ones?

What of free software? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931015)

In 20 years we may look back and decide that the free software movement represented a landmark shift in the way people view software, licensing and IP issues.

the easy stuff's been done (2, Insightful)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931020)

I'm not trying to imply that "everything has been invented", but I think it's reasonable to argue that the "easy" technological advances have happened.

The things that are left take either much more sophisticated science, or sophisticated materials, and therefore have longer development times.

If you were to graph true innovation (NOT incremental) innovation vs. time I think that the curve is starting to flatten out. We're starting to bump into fundamental physical limitations on a lot of things: IC devices which are subject to quantum effects, the earth's gravity well wrt space travel, high T superconductors.

There's still plenty of room for invention (!), but the time and effort between true invention is becoming greater.

Umm... missed one (5, Funny)

m_smitty (635490) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931031)

Umm... I didn't see the female thong on the list.

Howto make an index (1)

Hanna's Goblin Toys (635700) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931037)

Since they don't index the crap for you, but their URL format is transparent, I made an index for everybody: de_1.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_2.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_3.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_4.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_5.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_6.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_7.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_8.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_9.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_10.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_11.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_12.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_13.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_14.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_15.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_16.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_17.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_18.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_19.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_20.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_21.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_22.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_23.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_24.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_25.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_26.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_27.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_28.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_29.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_30.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_31.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_32.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_33.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_34.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_35.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_36.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_37.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_38.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_39.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_40.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_41.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_42.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_43.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_44.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_45.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_46.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_47.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_48.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_49.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_50.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_51.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_52.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_53.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_54.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_55.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_57.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_58.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_59.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_60.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_61.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_62.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_63.html?thisSpeed=20000 [] de_64.html?thisSpeed=20000 []

Index Part II (1)

Hanna's Goblin Toys (635700) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931070)

Sorry, got some "Filter Lame" message so I had to break it up into parts. ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 []


Hanna's Goblin Toys (635700) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931089)

Stupid Hannah, bad emacs! ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 [] ml?thisSpeed=20000 []

Others that didn't make it (3, Funny)

Znonymous Coward (615009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931043)

#86 - The Beowulf cluster.
#87 - The first post robot.
#88 - The last post robot.
#89 - Underpants gnomes (Phase 1, 2, 3, etc).
#90 - Microsoft Tablet PC.
#91 - Microsoft .Net

Business Inventions (2)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931046)

For the record, this is a list of 85 business breakthroughs. People forget, especially in the gadget happy world of Slashdot, that some of the great historical inventions and innovations are theoretical and intellectual and first exist in the realm of ideas and aren't clearly profitable or worth, by objective measures, an investment of money. Forbes wants you to think about breakthrough because they have the potential to make profit, which is good because it spurs innovation. But there are other reasons to try to innovate and revolutionize that are outside of the world of consumer culture.

Fight the national One-strike law for public housing residents []

Invention idea (1)

5n3ak3rp1mp (305814) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931050)

The Cellphone Zapper

Clandestinely aim and jam any person's cell call from within 50 feet.

Disclaimer: Cellphone Zapper is not recommended for use near metal objects or pregnant women. Cellphone Zapper may get extremely hot during use. Cellphone Zapper, Inc. will not be liable for injuries resulting from altercations inspired by the use of Cellphone Zapper. Do not aim Cellphone Zapper at small pets; dangerous explosions could result. Use of 2 cellphone zappers within the same 50 foot radius may result in massive injury or death due to harmonic resonance effects.

Updated Cellphone Zapper Disclaimer (1)

Znonymous Coward (615009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931114)

Disclaimer 2.0: All your cellphone are belong to us. See stores for details. Offer void in MD, TX, CA, FL.

I was worried... (2)

craenor (623901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931054)

That they'd left out one of the most significant advancements in the history of mankind...but they didn't

Viagra is on the list, whew!

Swamped by big ideas (1)

majordomo (111692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931055)

The comment regarding the small number of "big ideas" in the last five years is a bit misleading. Big ideas, like great athletes or brilliant scientists, stand out more if there is less competition. Today's athletes and scientists are the best in history, but there are many fewer Ruths and Einsteins simply because the competition is so much tougher. (Even Barry Bonds is one among many -- hitting 40 home runs in a season used to be remarkable, but now it's practically ordinary.)

I submit that the apparent lack of big ideas in recent times is instead cause for optimism: there are so many big ideas that they all seem to be small. The Internet, cell phones, genome sequencing, nanotechnology, Linux, and George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine -- what a great time to be alive!

Add to the list... (3, Insightful)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931056)

..."fast, free" website registration. Like the one Forbes used to run me off before reading the article.

Bet it didn't list microwave popcorn, did it? Now THAT is progress we can all get behind!

85 reasons Jesus will come back in 1985 (1)

f8xmulder (588686) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931062)

...or something like that. The fun thing about this list is its inherent subjectivity (like most any non-statistical lists). I would have put in Air conditioning (sometime in 1902), anti-lock brakes (mid 1920s), and possibly spam...

1921 - Tetraethyl Lead (3, Informative)

damieng (230610) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931078)

"Thomas Midgely adds lead to gasoline to stop power-draining knocking."

As if burning fuel wasn't bad enough already add a toxic metal to it to really juice things up. It's already banned in many countries including the USA and UK.

This site [] has further commentary and also covers his discovery of Freons that later helped damage the ozone layer including how his final invention killed him.

Surely the whole idea of such an article is to choose the inventions with the benefit of hindsight.

Re:1921 - Tetraethyl Lead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931138)

>As if burning fuel wasn't bad enough already

Yeah, because burning fuel, is soooo bad. What kind of whacko are you?

Do you have any idea how important fuel is?

We would all have to being living near the equator eating raw fruit.

Are they nuts? (1)

SAN1701 (537455) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931091)

Of course we had many great inventions in the last 10 years! I can name two of them right now

Amazon 1-click patent

Microsoft Win95 and all its inovations

and so on...

1972 - Ethernet (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931107)

They list Ethernet as one of the 85. What I find funny - they show a picture of a phone line and plug.

A sad realization, historically (2)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931109)

I find myself noticing the years most of these inventors had died. Their inventions and discoveries are astounding, but I was alive when a lot of them died and I can't even remember any news or information about these people when they died.

Almost if any announcements of such were simply a segue from national news to sports. Easy to forget.

first computer (1)

cribb (632424) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931117)

i was very pleasantly surprised by someone finally giving John Atanasoff the credit for inventing computers.

I dont see /. on the list (1)

zenst (558964) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931134)

I dont see /. on the list , therefore IMHO the list is null and void. Lets have a /. public vote of the best inventions that changed the world in the past 10 years. I'm sure that there is more than is given credit.

Thanks a lot (1)

drivers (45076) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931137)

One guy was responsible for leaded gasoline and freon. Thanks a lot dude!
link []

War (1)

barureddy (314276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4931140)

It it just me or does it seem that all of the cool/major inovations came about the time of major wars. Nuclear power, transistors, early computers, etc. Seems like war drives our technological advancements. How sad is that?

Java came out in last 10 years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4931144)

and hasn't it changed the world?
It turns lousy programmers into smart-mouthed (but still lousy programmer) punks.
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