21st Century

Someone asked this question last week. I thought it would be a good topic for discussion. Nobody could think of anything.
What good has come out of the 21st century so far?
LL

The technology allowing instant exchange of information: internet, iPhones, Facebook…and both books by Gregory Clark. : )

The Internet was around long before the dawn of the 21st Century, George. I agree with you about the iPhone, but FaceBook is a mixed blessing. I’ll add the maturation of digital cameras to the list. I’ll have to read Gregory Clark.s books. Hadn’t heard of him before now.
Other 21st Century developments: Gay rights in the United States, the first mixed-race American president, and the death throes of the Republican Party.

I see the definitions of liberal and conservative breaking down. The extremists on both sides are causing the middle to not want to identify with either. Many are realizing the values that are shared. Jonathan Haidt’s work accelerating this.

The technology allowing instant exchange of information: internet, iPhones, Facebook...and both books by Gregory Clark. : )
I'm pretty sure that most of that started in the 20th Century. Yes, there have been improvements on ideas already begun, but I was looking for a substantial and important invention or discovery that took place in this century.

If you are looking for important inventions or discoveries one could argue the last important invention was the transistor, and the last important discovery was the accelerating expansion rate of the universe both of which came in the 20th Century.
How about the Kepler Mission and discovery of exoplanets? Does that count?

I say this in all honesty: I think the best thing to come out of the 21st century so far is the Bush presidency (and by that I mean the final push by PNAC). The Right Wing, Political and religious, has for the most part been able to do its damage out of the limelight and in back alleys of government. They’re now out in the open for all to see. Not unlike the ultimate Right Wingers, the Nazis, it takes exposing the disease so that it can run its course and be gone, and the nation to be healed.

As we can see by the suggestions and responses, new scientific discoveries take place quietly in research labs, then after a few years get transferred to engineering labs which figure out how to use the ideas then design items that utilize these discoveries. Next, production lines are set up, product starts being made, marketing groups present it to sales organizations, we customers are inundated with advertising, then we buy this fantastic “BRAND NEW” invention.
That’s the problem with a question like this. The new developments of the 21st century are just coming out of the labs and we won’t be aware of them for another five or ten years. Darron mentioned the transistor, and the guy who first designed one did so in the late sixties or early seventies, I believe. Even though it was extremely important, it took a few years for it to start replacing vacuum tubes. Then all hell broke loose starting with transistor portable radios, then computers, etc.

Wow, I was way off. I checked and the first patent for transistor technology was issued in 1924. It took the next forty or so years to develop usable ones that could be manufactured in production lines.

Occam

As we can see by the suggestions and responses, new scientific discoveries take place quietly in research labs, then after a few years get transferred to engineering labs which figure out how to use the ideas then design items that utilize these discoveries. Next, production lines are set up, product starts being made, marketing groups present it to sales organizations, we customers are inundated with advertising, then we buy this fantastic “BRAND NEW” invention.
That’s the problem with a question like this. The new developments of the 21st century are just coming out of the labs and we won’t be aware of them for another five or ten years. Darron mentioned the transistor, and the guy who first designed one did so in the late sixties or early seventies, I believe. Even though it was extremely important, it took a few years for it to start replacing vacuum tubes. Then all hell broke loose starting with transistor portable radios, then computers, etc.

Wow, I was way off. I checked and the first patent for transistor technology was issued in 1924. It took the next forty or so years to develop usable ones that could be manufactured in production lines.

Occam
As much as I agree with the gist of what you’re saying, some of your dates need fine tuning
http://www.vintageradios.com/a-brief-history-of-the-transistor-radio/
“The first transistor is widely acknowledged to have been developed in 1947 by Bell Laboratories, …”
(so there’s twenty + years worth of “maturation time”)
“… Sony, who – in 1955 – became the first company in the world to build a whole transistor radio.”
{oh yea, that was a very good year ;- )}

Although some of these things were certainly thought about and worked on before the beginning of the 20th Century, here are the inventions and discoveries from the first 14 years of the 1900s. I don’t think the first 14 years of the 2000s come even close in terms of life-changing inventions and discoveries. Are inventions and discoveries slowing down?
We began the 20th century with the infancy of airplanes, automobiles, and radio, when those inventions dazzled us with their novelty and wonder.
We end the 20th century with spaceships, computers, cell phones, and the wireless Internet all being technologies we can take for granted.
1900
The zeppelin invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.
Charles Seeberger redesigned Jesse Reno’s escalator and invented the modern escalator.
1901
King Camp Gillette invents the double-edged safety razor.
The first radio receiver, successfully received a radio transmission.
Hubert Booth invents a compact and modern vacuum cleaner.
1902
Willis Carrier invents the air conditioner.
The lie detector or polygraph machine is invented by James Mackenzie.
The birth of the Teddy Bear.
George Claude invented neon light.
1903
Edward Binney and Harold Smith co-invent crayons.
Bottle-making machinery invented by Michael J. Owens.
The Wright brothers invent the first gas motored and manned airplane.
Mary Anderson invents windshield wipers.
William Coolidge invents ductile tungsten used in lightbulbs.
1904
Teabags invented by Thomas Suillivan.
Benjamin Holt invents a tractor.
John A Fleming invents a vacuum diode or Fleming valve.
1905
Albert Einstein published the Theory of Relativity and made famous the equation, E = mc2.
1906
William Kellogg invents Cornflakes.
Lewis Nixon invents the first sonar like device.
Lee Deforest invents electronic amplifying tube (triode).
1907
Leo Baekeland invents the first synthetic plastic called Bakelite.
Color photography invented by Auguste and Louis Lumiere.
The very first piloted helicopter was invented by Paul Cornu.
1908
The gyrocompass invented by Elmer A. Sperry.
Cellophane invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger.
Model T first sold.
J W Geiger and W Müller invent the geiger counter.
Fritz Haber invents the Haber Process for making artificial nitrates.
1909
Instant coffee invented by G. Washington.
1910
Thomas Edison demonstrated the first talking motion picture.
Georges Claude displayed the first neon lamp to the public on December 11, 1910, in Paris.
1911
Charles Franklin Kettering invents the first automobile electrical ignition system.
1912
Motorized movie cameras invented, replaced hand-cranked cameras.
The first tank patented by Australian inventor De La Mole.
Clarence Crane created Life Savers candy in 1912.
1913
The crossword puzzle invented by Arthur Wynne.
The Merck Chemical Company patented, what is now know as, ecstasy.
Mary Phelps Jacob invents the bra.
Gideon Sundback invented the modern zipper.
1914
Garrett A. Morgan invents the Morgan gas mask.

2001
iPod
2007
iPhone
2014
I spent 15 minutes searching for great inventions of this century and cannot find anything else. Several sites mentioned the hybrid car, even though Toyota began selling the Prius in Japan in 1997. Almost all mentioned YouTube, which I consider an excellent resource for obscure music but hardly a great invention.
I’m back to the transistor as the last really important invention.

1903 Mary Anderson invents windshield wipers.
I love it! I can see it going down: "No honey, you're not taking me for another drive until I can see through the window" and since the grease monkey never got around to it, she had to take care of it for herself. :lol:
2001 iPod 2007 iPhone 2014 I spent 15 minutes searching for great inventions of this century and cannot find anything else. Several sites mentioned the hybrid car, even though Toyota began selling the Prius in Japan in 1997. Almost all mentioned YouTube, which I consider an excellent resource for obscure music but hardly a great invention. I'm back to the transistor as the last really important invention.
If you want to be really picky about it, the first hybrid car was built by Ferdinand Porsche, in 1899! As for the "good" that's happened in the 21st Century so far, its a case of use not being able to see the forest for the trees. Like the proverbial frog, we don't notice most of it, because its happening gradually, only years later in retrospect will we have an idea. For example, there's been any number of treatments for diseases discovered since the start of the century, but until some decades have passed, and someone runs the numbers, we won't have a sense of how many people that treatment has helped. Surely the discovery of the Higgs-Boson has to count as an obvious good. As does the winning of the X-Prize by Burt Rutan's team. The cost, and time required, to sequence DNA has been falling dramatically. They now have $1,000 USB thumbdrives which can do it in almost no time. We landed a big ass rover on Mars, launched a probe towards Pluto, had an astronaut sing David Bowie's "A Space Oddity" while on the ISS, we watched a guy dive from the edge of space and land safely, and much, much more. Remember, our minds are wired up to recall bad things with greater facility than good things (keeps you from doing something stupid and getting yourself killed), so its not necessarily easy for us to think of such things, while we're living in the moment, as it were.
If you are looking for important inventions or discoveries one could argue the last important invention was the transistor, and the last important discovery was the accelerating expansion rate of the universe both of which came in the 20th Century. How about the Kepler Mission and discovery of exoplanets? Does that count?
Sure, why not? There isn't much else.
1903 Mary Anderson invents windshield wipers.
I love it! I can see it going down: "No honey, you're not taking me for another drive until I can see through the window" and since the grease monkey never got around to it, she had to take care of it for herself. :lol: The inventions of women usually got taken over by men who took the credit--certainly before the 20th Century.
2001 iPod 2007 iPhone 2014 I spent 15 minutes searching for great inventions of this century and cannot find anything else. Several sites mentioned the hybrid car, even though Toyota began selling the Prius in Japan in 1997. Almost all mentioned YouTube, which I consider an excellent resource for obscure music but hardly a great invention. I'm back to the transistor as the last really important invention.
If you want to be really picky about it, the first hybrid car was built by Ferdinand Porsche, in 1899! As for the "good" that's happened in the 21st Century so far, its a case of use not being able to see the forest for the trees. Like the proverbial frog, we don't notice most of it, because its happening gradually, only years later in retrospect will we have an idea. For example, there's been any number of treatments for diseases discovered since the start of the century, but until some decades have passed, and someone runs the numbers, we won't have a sense of how many people that treatment has helped. Surely the discovery of the Higgs-Boson has to count as an obvious good. As does the winning of the X-Prize by Burt Rutan's team. The cost, and time required, to sequence DNA has been falling dramatically. They now have $1,000 USB thumbdrives which can do it in almost no time. We landed a big ass rover on Mars, launched a probe towards Pluto, had an astronaut sing David Bowie's "A Space Oddity" while on the ISS, we watched a guy dive from the edge of space and land safely, and much, much more. Remember, our minds are wired up to recall bad things with greater facility than good things (keeps you from doing something stupid and getting yourself killed), so its not necessarily easy for us to think of such things, while we're living in the moment, as it were. All that is true, but most of the things you cite happened in the 20th Century. Medical advances may well become more well known later in the century.

What I’ve found on most sites is that the inventions mentioned as the “top ten” usually involve inventions in or improvements of communication and transportation, e.g. The Tesla automobile, the segue or Segway as some call it (cool device), and my favorite of favorites, the IPad. I’m using it now and wouldn’t be without it. Then of course this very site. And Facebook has changed the World of communication and linked everyone who wants to, I don’t BTW, to millions of people world wide.
Cap’t Jack

Cliche, outmoded, whatever you want to call it…I wish I was permanently living in the 70s or early 80s.
I remember when we didn’t have any of this stuff and life was fine.
The World worked perfectly with payphones and phones sitting on the kitchen counter.
The DMV or the Doctor’s office worked perfectly with file cabinets and Rolodexes.
Now, I enter a common area or some place and every single person has their nose in their smart phone oblivious of each other, thumbs a-twitter.
It’s like the Night of the Living Dead. To me it is a loss.

I have to agree with Vy. The outside world, including people they are with, seems to have disappeared for the huge number of people, especially those between two and thirty who are living inside their Ipads or similar.
That was an impressive list for the first fourteen years of the twentieth century, Lois. However, if you had been back there then and asked, say in the newspaper, for a list of important inventions since the beginning of the century, how many of these do you think would have been included?
Occam

Cliche, outmoded, whatever you want to call it…I wish I was permanently living in the 70s or early 80s. I remember when we didn’t have any of this stuff and life was fine. The World worked perfectly with payphones and phones sitting on the kitchen counter. The DMV or the Doctor’s office worked perfectly with file cabinets and Rolodexes.
No thanks Vy, been there, done that and was working my ass off trying to raise our kids. It was a busy time for me, we had a 13 inch screen TV, living in a rented house built in 1888, had one phone, one car (in constant need of repair) and had to save pennies to take the kids to the movies. I worked two jobs five days a week to make ends meet, smoked heavily and no money for vacations. So no you can keep the 70's and 80's. Although I was introduced to Sagan via Cosmos and bought his books. That was a treat. So I'll keep my IPad and my cell phone thank you. Cap't Jack