History Quiz / 50 Greatest Innovations

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Can you name the 50 greatest innovations since the wheel, according to the Atlantic Monthly?

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DescriptionAnswerYear
1. The turning point at which knowledge began freely replicating and quickly assumed a life of its own1430s
2. And then there was light (and Nos. 4, 9, 16, 24, 28, 44, 45, and most of the rest of modern lifelate 19th C.
3. Accidentally discovered, it led to the silver bullet for any number of formerly deadly diseases1928
4. The physical foundation of the virtual worldmid-20th C.
5. Raised the collective human IQ, and eventually led to the creation of the microscope and the telescope13th C.
6. 'The idea of stamping images is natural if you have ___, but until then, it's economically unaffordable'2nd C.
7. Turned air and fuel into power, eventually replacing No. 10late 19th C.
8. Edward Jenner showed that making someone sick could prevent further sickness1796
9. The infrastructure of the digital age1960s
10. Powered the factories, trains, and ships that drove the Industrial Revolution1712
11. Fritz Haber won a Nobel Prize for his development of this process, which was used to create a new class of fertilizers central to No. 221918
12. A major reason we live 40 years longer than we did in 1880mid-19th C.
13. Would change the way we eat—and live—almost as profoundly as discovering how to cook1850s
14. Outsourced killing to a machine10th C.
15. Transformed travel, warfare, and our view of the world1903
16. Like No. 48 and No. 43, it augmented human capabilities1970s
17. Oriented us, even at sea12th C.
18. Transformed daily life, our culture and our landscapelate 19th C.
19. The basis of modern industry, made possible by the Bessemer process1850s
20. Launched a social and sexual revolution1950
21. Gave humans new power for destruction, and creation1939
22. Combining technologies like No. 11 and No. 38, it hugely increased the world's food outputmid-20th C.
23. It made maps out of stars1757
24. Allowed our voices to travel1876
25. Made knowledge accessible and searchable1st millenium B.C.
DescriptionAnswerYear
26. Before it, information could move no faster than a man on horseback1837
27. It quantified time15th C.
28. The first demonstration of electronic mass media's power to spread ideas and homogenize culture1906
29. Changed journalism, art, culture and how we see ourselves.early 19th C.
30. It not only dug soil up, but turned it over, allowing for the cultivation of harder ground18th C.
31. One of the first water pumps, it transformed irrigation3rd C. B.C.
32. Institutionalized an industry —and, unfortunately, slavery—in the American South1793
33. One of the first practical applications of germ theory, one of history's most effective public-health interventions1863
34. Jumped ahead 10 days to synchronize the world with the seasons1582
35. Without it, No. 39 would be pointlessmid-19th C.
36. The backbone of today's energy infrastructure, they generate 80 percent of the world's power1884
37. The foundation of civilization. Literally.1st millenium B.C.
38. It wasn't until early 20th C. scientists discovered a forgotten 1866 paper by Gregor Mendel that we figured out how ___ —and later on human genetics—worked1920s
39. Fueled the modern economy, established its geopolitics, and changed the climate1859
40. Transformed travel, warfare, and our view of the world4th millenium B.C.
41. 'Our only way off the planet—so far'1926
42. The abstraction at the core of the modern economy11th C.
43. One of the first devices to augment human intelligence3rd millenium B.C.
44. Would you start a business in Houston or Bangalore without it?1902
45. Brought the world into people's homesEarly 20th C.
46. 'The fierce extremity of suffering has been steeped in the waters of forgetfulness'1846
47. Extended lives by enabling people to build shelter2nd millenium B.C.
48. A simple machine the Egyptians relied upon to build the pyramids3rd millenium B.C.
49. Turned a craft-based economy into a mass-market one1913
50. Mechanized the farm1930s

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