The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel
The Atlantic recently assembled a panel of 12 scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, historians of technology, and others to assess the innovations that have done the most to shape the nature of modern life. The main rule for this exercise was that the innovations should have come after widespread use of the wheel began, perhaps 6,000 years ago. That ruled out fire, which our forebears began to employ several hundred thousand years earlier. We asked each panelist to make 25 selections and to rank them, despite the impossibility of fairly comparing, say, the atomic bomb and the plow.
“47. The nail, second millennium b.c.” This is why high school must include shops (wood, metal, electric, ceramic) in all curricula for both XY and XX students. Fools drive a nail into the butt end of a 2×4. Rip saw, crosscut saw – it makes a difference. Engineering quality is glued and screwed, not nailed. Woodworking is fitted and glued. A smooth-shafted nail is fast, cheap, and adequate, but not quality.