Mine is the computer. I continue to be amazed at what we can do with them.

    • 0110010001100010@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      To expand a hair on this, modern waste disposal. So with plumbing comes sewage. Then the close child is refuse removal. We literally cannot live (healthily) without these things.

      Side-bar, the folks that power waste removal are VASTLY under-paid.

      • SchmidtGenetics@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        Waste removal is usually a premo paid job, yeah they could be paid more, but still pretty cushy pay for most of them. It’s not some minimum wage job and the entry barrier is usually high school education.

        • 0110010001100010@lemmy.world
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          3 months ago

          Depends on where you draw the line. Janitors for instance are usually paid a pittance. As are cleaning crews that vacuum the vast offices spaces around the country.

          If you are talking about CDL drivers that collect trash cans then yeah, they tend to be paid well. Without all the pieces of the puzzle though the system breaks down.

          Plumbers, as it turns out, are paid quite well since nobody wants to go into the trades currently.

          • SchmidtGenetics@lemmy.world
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            3 months ago

            Yeah that’s pretty fair, it’s usually referred to people after point of disposal. I’ve never heard a custodian say they work in waste management for example.

            • 0110010001100010@lemmy.world
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              3 months ago

              Agreed, custodians (usually) wouldn’t refer to themselves that way. Without them though, trash doesn’t make it to the point of disposal. Which is a break in the chain. We could debate the finer points I’m sure, but it’s about bed time for me and I have an early AM meeting with offshore.

              So have a good one, and I do appreciate the discussion!

      • SwingingTheLamp@midwest.social
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        3 months ago

        Totally. When mechanical systems in sewers and waste tanks break, somebody has to put on a diving suit, go in, and fix it. If any individual human in the world ever deserved $55 billion in compensation, it’s those people.

    • Drusas@kbin.run
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      3 months ago

      I was going to say toilets/indoor plumbing. Necessary for survival? Maybe not. Best convenience ever invented? Probably.

    • Rivalarrival@lemmy.today
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      3 months ago

      I would rank plumbing pretty high to be sure, but without the steam engine to drive the water pumps, plumbing is limited to aqueducts, gravity sewers, and intermittent, low-volume supply from animal or wind-driven pumps.

      Even today, the overwhelming majority of our energy passes through a steam phase at some point. Steam power is by far the most important discovery/invention of the modern world.

    • Track_Shovel@slrpnk.net
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      3 months ago

      I was going to say HVAC. It’s cold as all fuck here in the winter, and hotter than donkey balls baking in the sun during summer.

  • DirigibleProtein@aussie.zone
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    3 months ago

    Writing. Being able to record facts, thoughts, and stories that can be (mostly) read thousands of miles away and thousands of years later changed civilisation.

    • SwingingTheLamp@midwest.social
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      Consider: Writing is also the closest thing to magic that we have in the real world. You make a particular pattern of markings on a piece of paper using an arcane body of knowledge, and then a wizard in a black robe with a special hammer makes an illegible squiggle on the paper in just the right spot, and it makes new things happen.

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      It is crazy that. For time immemorial we used to transmit information from our mouths or using hand signals, and receive that information through eyes and ears, all in realtime.

      (side thought: how awesome would it be if we had a single organ for both? e.g. communication solely through blinking)

      Then suddenly we have this system where someone can code meaning onto a sheet, and we can receive entire contexts from a glance alone, purely at our leisure. Nuts.

  • Mister Neon@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    Technically I would say the harnessing and utilization of fire. It arguably changed our evolution requiring less energy to digest food.

    • maegul@lemmy.ml
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      3 months ago

      Upvoted (and came to say the same)!

      The interesting thing about fire is that it is way back in human history, like, AFAIU, before our hominid species even evolved. So it’s likely intertwined with very biological being.

      Another similar invention is likely language. Once the evolutionary pieces were there to get language to the ability of syntax, whoever were the people that riffed on communicating with sounds to the point of making up words and making sentences etc, they invented some ridiculously awesome shit. Like there was probably the first sharing between people of a pun, joke, or first abstraction or conceptual musing. The first argument where one person was more convincing. The first person who was naturally good at speaking and impressed others with it.

  • CountVon@sh.itjust.works
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    The plow. It allowed early river valley peoples to generate semi-reliable food surpluses, and those food surpluses triggered everything that came after. I can’t take credit for this argument, I first encountered it in this episode from the first season of Connections.

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    3 months ago

    Glasses. The ability to see so much better than I otherwise could leaves me astonished every time I put them on.

  • HereToLurk@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    I’m always blown away by how discoveries like antibiotics changed our lives. And writing too. Mind blowing that we can record, discern, and communicate so much information from marks on a surface

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      This is the answer I was looking for. Every other comfort can be worked around. Not having half your children die had no workaround.

      • theywilleatthestars@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        There’s a cemetery a few blocks from where I live that I walk around in sometimes. The years on the older gravestones tell some very sad stories.

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    3 months ago

    One I didn’t see yet: Radio.

    Less than 150 years old, and has vitally changed how we communicate, and has downstream effects on every other human activity.

    Kind of magical having streams of information travelling all around us.

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      Yep, I was talking to my grandpa about what invention his parents thought was the most significant in their lifetime, and they had said the radio. They had lived through both world wars which had brought about many many inventions and that was the one they thought was most significant.

      Up to that time news was incredibly slow and you couldn’t put what was going on on the other side of the country without a massive delay, let alone the world.

  • Thelsim@sh.itjust.works
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    3 months ago

    Writing, it allowed for knowledge to travel across vast distances. And for that knowledge to remain available and accurate for far longer than any oral tradition would be capable of.

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    3 months ago

    It’s pretty damn hard to pick just one thing, so my best-of list

    There’s really basic foundational things like the wheel, cutting tools, fire (if we want to count it as an invention,) string/rope/cordage, writing, clothing, cooking, agriculture, metalworking, etc. the sort of things that are absolutely basic building blocks of civilization.

    Moving a few milenia up, and in no particular order,

    the Haber Process to synthesize ammonia, which allowed for the creation of synthetic fertilizers. If you’ve eaten any commercially grown food in the last century, you probably owe it to the Haber Process.

    Antibiotics are another big one, as are vaccines.

    Vaucason’s lathe arguably laid the foundation for a whole lot of fabrication techniques that led to the industrial revolution

    Refrigeration

    Steam engines and later internal combustion engines

    Clocks

    Compasses

    Printing press

    The telephone

    Airplanes

    Computers and the internet

    Cameras

      • tetris11@lemmy.ml
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        Also it’s the one my parents talk about. They used to go out everyday and pluck food from the ground. Every day.

        Fridge changed that overnight. Suddenly people had time to do other things (mostly chat with their friends in cafés)

        • ianovic69@feddit.uk
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          3 months ago

          The industrial revolution was the biggest double edged sword ever!

          The washing machine was probably the next big time saver. Now we spend all our free time on the internet…

  • milicent_bystandr@lemm.ee
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    3 months ago

    This was the topic of discussion between an historian, a mathematician and a mystic.

    The historian said, “writing. The ability to put words on paper to be communicated to people who never even met the ‘speaker’, is the single greatest achievement of mankind.”

    The mathematician said, “no, numbers. The ability to express and develop truly abstract concepts, which in turn leads to Incredible real applications. Numbers are the single greatest invention of mankind.”

    The mystic said, “the Thermos flask.”

    “The Thermos flask?”

    “The Thermos flask. It keeps hot drinks hot in the winter, and cold drinks cold in the summer. But think - that little flask - how does it know?”

    • Hugh_Jeggs@lemm.ee
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      I was having lunch at work and this Geordie I work with pointed at my flask and said “What’s that mate?”

      I said “It’s a thermos. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold”

      Next day he comes in and he’s got a brand new thermos. I asked him what he had in it.

      He said “Two choc ices, a sausage roll and a cup of tea”

  • wellDuuh@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    In Electronics world? Bipolar junction Transistors. Easily.

    This led into having portable devices we have today.

    Back then people used vacuum tubes for switching and amplification; of which were very expensive to run (used a lot of power when idle, while having a very short lifespan of less than 48 hrs).

    I mean, vacuum tubes where phenomenal when they came, allowed first long distance calls in 1915.

    Look at my phone now, fits on my hands, and has billions of transistors!

    Post script: lately I’ve been thinking, what if we remove cell towers as middle men? Because nowadays privacy is somewhat dead. People have been using radio frequency for walkie-talkies even before 1st generation communication (1G) was a thing.

    This video enlightened my day 😊

    It’s just a matter of time now

    • tetris11@lemmy.ml
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      Its crazy that we’re now approaching 200 million transistors in a single square millimetre. Boggles the mind.

    • DeltaWhy@lemmy.world
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      I was thinking the photolithography process might be almost as important as the transistor itself. Without the ability to miniaturize transistors and create integrated circuits, we wouldn’t have anywhere near the level of technology we can build now. A computer made of discrete transistors would be way more efficient, reliable, and cheaper than one made with vacuum tubes, but would still be very limited. There are things you fundamentally couldn’t do with even thousands of discrete transistors that became possible once we were able to scale to millions and now billions.