The most important discoveries of mankind

Mankind could not exist without constant progress, finding and introducing new technologies, inventions and discoveries. Today, many of them are already outdated and they are not necessary, others, like the wheel, still serve.

The maelstrom of time swallowed many discoveries, and some waited for their recognition and implementation only after tens and hundreds of years. Numerous questions were raised to find out which inventions of mankind are the most significant.

One thing is clear – there is no one opinion. Nevertheless, a universal ten of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind was compiled.

Surprisingly, it turned out that the achievements of modern science did not shake the significance of some basic discoveries for most people. Most of the inventions are so old that it is not possible to accurately name the name of their author.


The first place is difficult to challenge. People have discovered the useful properties of fire for a long time. With his help, you could warm up and light up, change the taste of food. Initially, man dealt with “wild” fire, arising from fires or volcanic eruptions. Fear was replaced by curiosity, so the flames migrated into the cave. Over time, a man learned to extract fire himself, he became his constant companion, the basis of the economy, protection from animals. As a result, many subsequent discoveries became possible only thanks to fire – ceramics, metallurgy, steam engines, etc. The way to independent reception of fire was long – for years people supported a house fire in the caves, yet did not learn to extract it by means of a friction. Two sticks of dry wood were taken, one of which was a hole. The first was placed on the ground and pressed. The second was inserted into the hole and started to rotate quickly between the palms. The tree was heated and ignited. Of course, such a process required a certain skill. With the development of mankind there were also other ways of obtaining an open fire.


The Wagon is closely connected with this discovery. Scientists believe that the prototype of the wheel were rollers, which were placed under the stones and trunks of trees during their transportation. Probably, then someone observant and noticed the properties of rotating bodies. So, if the log-roller in the center was thinner than at the edges, it moved more evenly, without deviating from the sides. People noticed this, and an adaptation appeared, now called a ramp. Over time, the design changed, from the solid log there were only two rollers at the ends connected by an axis. Later they were generally made separately, fastening only later. So the wheel was opened, which immediately began to be used in the first wagons. The following centuries and millennia people have worked hard to improve this important invention. At first the solid wheels were rigidly connected to the axis, rotating with it. But at the turn a heavy wagon could break. And the wheels themselves were imperfect, they were originally made of a single piece of wood. This led to the fact that the first wagons were rather slow and slow, and they harnessed strong, but leisurely oxen. A major step in the evolution was the invention of a wheel with a hub mounted on a fixed axis. To reduce the weight of the wheel itself, it was invented to cut the incisions, strengthening for stiffness with transverse clips. In the Stone Age, the best option was impossible to create. But with the advent of the metal man, the wheels received metal rims and spokes, it could rotate tens of times faster and no longer was afraid of stones and wear. The swift-footed horses began to harness in the cart, the speeds increased noticeably. As a result, the wheel was the discovery, which, perhaps, gave the most powerful impetus to the development of all technology.


Few will deny the significance of this invention for the entire development of mankind. Where would the development of our civilization go, if at a certain stage we would not learn to fix certain information with certain symbols. This allowed to save it and transmit it.Obviously, without written language, our society in today’s form would simply not exist. The first forms of symbols for the transmission of information arose about 6 thousand years ago. Before that, people used more primitive signals – smoke, branches … Later, there were more complicated ways of data transmission, for example, the Incas used nodules for this. Laces of different colors were tied in various knots and fastened on a stick. The addressee deciphered the message. Similar letters were practiced in China, Mongolia. However, the writing itself appeared only with the invention of graphic symbols. Pictorial letters were accepted first. On them in the form of a picture, people schematically depicted phenomena, events, objects. Pictography was widespread in the Stone Age, and she did not need to study specifically. But to transmit complex thoughts or abstract concepts this type of writing was not suitable. Over time, the pictograms began to introduce conventional signs that denote certain concepts. So, the crossed arms symbolized the exchange. Gradually the primitive pictograms became more precise and definite, the letter became ideographic. Its highest form was hieroglyphic writing. First it originated in Ancient Egypt, then spread to the Far East – Japan, China. Such symbols already allowed to reflect any thoughts, even the most complex ones. But for an outsider to understand the secret was very difficult, and for someone who wanted to learn how to read and write, it was necessary to learn a few thousand characters. As a result, this skill could own only a few. And only 4 thousand years ago the ancient Phoenicians invented the alphabet and letters and sounds, which became a model for many other peoples. The Phoenicians began to use 22 consonant letters, each of which denoted a separate sound. A new letter made it possible to transmit any word graphically, and it became much easier to learn writing. Now it became the property of the whole society, this fact served as a rapid spread of the alphabet around the world. It is believed that 80% of the common today alphabets have precisely Phoenician roots. The last significant changes in the Phoenician letters were made by the Greeks – they began to denote by letters not only consonants, but also vowel sounds. The Greek alphabet, in turn, formed the basis of most European languages.


This invention is closely related to the previous one. The inventors of the same paper were the Chinese. This is hard to call an accident. For a long time, China was famous not only for its love of books, but also for its complex system of bureaucratic management with constant reports. That is why there was a special need for inexpensive and compact material for writing. Before the paper appeared, they wrote here on silk and on bamboo tablets. However, these materials did not fit well – silk was expensive, and bamboo – heavy and cumbersome. It is said that a whole cart was required to transport certain works. The invention of the same paper came from operations for processing silk cocoons. The women cooked them, and then, spread out on a mat, they were rubbed to a homogeneous mass. Water was drained from it, getting silk cotton wool. After such treatment, a thin fibrous layer remained on the mats, which, after drying, turned into paper suitable for writing. Later, for her purposeful preparation began to use defective cocoons. This paper was called wadded and was quite expensive. Over time, the question arose – is it possible to make paper not only from silk? Or for these purposes, any fibrous raw material, preferably of vegetable origin, is suitable. History says that in 105, an official Tsai Lun was able to create a new grade of paper from old fishing nets. Its quality was comparable to silk, and the price is much lower. This discovery has become important both for the country and for the whole of civilization. People received high-quality and accessible material for the letter, an equivalent replacement which was never found.The following centuries introduced several important improvements into the paper making technology, the process itself began to develop rapidly. In the IV century, paper finally replaced the bamboo plates, it soon became known that it is possible to manufacture from cheap plant materials – bark of trees, bamboo and reeds. This was especially important, because it is bamboo that grows in China in huge quantities. Secrets of production were kept in the strictest secrecy for several centuries. But in 751, some Chinese people were captured by them in a clash with the Arabs. So the secret became known to the Arabs, who for five centuries profitably sold paper to Europe. In 1154, the production of paper was established in Italy, soon mastered in Germany, England. In the following centuries, the paper gained the widest distribution, conquering new areas of application. Its meaning is so great that our era is even sometimes called “paper”.

Gunpowder and guns.

This European discovery played a huge role in the history of mankind. Explosive mixture knew how to do many, Europeans were the last of the civilized peoples who learned to do it. But it was they who were able to benefit from this discovery. The first consequence of the invention of gunpowder was the development of firearms and a revolution in military affairs. There were also social shifts – invincible knights in armor retreated before the fire of guns and guns. The feudal society received a strong blow, from which it could no longer recover. As a result, powerful centralized states arose. The very same powder for many centuries before the advent of Europe was invented in China. An important component of the powder was saltpetre, which in some parts of the country generally met in a native form, resembling snow. After setting a mixture of saltpeter and charcoal, the Chinese began to observe small flashes. At the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the properties of saltpetre were first described by the Chinese physician Tao Hong-ching. Since then, this substance has been used as a component of some drugs. The appearance of the first powder sample is attributed to the alchemist Sun Ssu-miao, who prepared a mixture of sulfur and saltpeter, adding to them pieces of locust tree. When heated, there was a strong flare-up of the flame, which was fixed by the scientist in his treatise “Dan Jing”. The composition of the powder was further improved by his colleagues, who experimentally established three main components – potassium nitrate, sulfur and coal. Medieval Chinese explosion effects scientifically could not explain, but soon adapted to use gunpowder for military purposes. However, this is not a revolutionary effect. The fact is that the mixture was prepared from unrefined components, which gave only an incendiary effect. Only in the XII-XIII centuries, the Chinese created weapons that resembled a firearm, and a rocket and a firecracker were also invented. Soon the secret was recognized by the Mongols and Arabs, and from them the Europeans too. The secondary discovery of gunpowder is attributed to the monk Berthold Schwartz, who began to crush in the mortar a crushed mixture of saltpetre, coal and sulfur. The explosion burned the beard to the tester, but the thought came to his mind that such energy can be used to throw stones. At first, the powder was flour-shaped, and it was uncomfortable to use it, since the powder of limes to the walls of the trunks. After that they noticed that it is much more convenient to use gunpowder in lumps and grains. This gave, moreover, more gases upon ignition.

Communication means – telephone, telegraph, radio, Internet and others.

150 years ago, only steamship mail was the only way to exchange information between Europe and Britain, America and the colonies. People learned about what was happening in other countries with a delay of weeks or even months. So, news from Europe to America went at least 2 weeks. That is why the appearance of the telegraph radically solved this problem. As a result, the technical novelty appeared in all parts of the world, allowing news from one hemisphere in a matter of hours and minutes to fall into another.During the day, interested persons received business and political news, stock reports. Telegraph allowed to transmit written messages over distances. But soon the inventors began to think about a new means of communication that could transmit to any distances the sounds of a human voice or music. The first experiments on this issue were conducted in 1837 by the American physicist Page. His simple but vivid experiments proved that in principle it is possible to transmit sound with the help of electricity. The succession of subsequent experiences, discoveries and introductions led to the appearance in our life of our telephone, television, the Internet and other modern means of communication, which turned the life of society.

The car.

Like some of the foremost inventions in the list, the car not only influenced its era, but also spawned a new one. This discovery is not limited to one sphere of transport alone. The car formed a modern industry, spawned new industries and rebuilt the production itself. It became massive and streamlined. Even the planet has changed – now it is surrounded by millions of kilometers of roads, and the ecology has worsened. And even the psychology of man has become different. Today the influence of the car is so multifaceted that it is present in all spheres of human life. In the history of the invention there were many nice pages, but the most interesting relates to the first years of its existence. In general, the speed with which the car reached its maturity can not fail to impress. In just a quarter of a century, an unreliable toy has become a mass and popular vehicle. Now there are about a billion machines in the world. The main features of the modern car were formed 100 years ago. The predecessor of the gasoline car was the steam car. In 1769 the Frenchman Kunyu created a steam cart that could carry up to 3 tons of cargo, moving, however, with a speed of up to 4 km / h. The car was clumsy, and the work with the boiler was heavy and dangerous. But the idea of ​​movement at the expense of the couple carried away followers. In 1803, Trivaitik built the first steam car in England, which could carry up to 10 passengers, accelerating to 15 km / h. The London gawkers were delighted! The car in the modern sense has appeared only with the discovery of an internal combustion engine. In 1864, a vehicle appeared Austrian Marcus, which was driven by a gasoline engine. But the glory of the official inventors of the car went to two Germans – Daimler and Benz. The latter was the owner of the factory for the production of two-stroke gas engines. Means were enough for leisure and development of own cars. In 1891, the owner of the rubber products factory, Eduard Michelin, invented a removable pneumatic tire for a bicycle, and four years later the tires began to be produced for cars. In the same year of 1895 tires were tested during the race, although they were constantly pierced, but it became clear – they give the cars a smooth ride, making the ride more comfortable.

Light bulb.

And this invention appeared in our life recently, at the end of the XIX century. First, the lighting appeared on the streets of cities, and then it also entered residential buildings. Today the life of a civilized person is hard to imagine without electric light. Such a discovery entailed enormous consequences. Electricity made a revolution in the energy sector, causing a significant change in industry. In the XIX century, two types of light bulbs – arc and incandescent lamps – were distributed. The first to appear arc lamps, the glow of which was based on a phenomenon such as a voltaic arc. If you connect two wires connected to a strong current, and then push them apart, there will be a glow between their ends. For the first time this phenomenon was observed by the Russian scientist Vasily Petrov in 1803, and the Englishman Devi described this effect only in 1810. The application of the voltaic arc as a source of illumination was described by both scientists.However, the arc lamps had the inconvenience – as the electrodes burned out, they had to be constantly moved to each other. Exceeding the distance between them entailed a flicker of light. In 1844 the Frenchman Foucault designed the first arc lamp, in which the length of the arc could be adjusted manually. In 4 years, this invention was used to illuminate one of the squares of Paris. In 1876, the Russian engineer Yablochkov perfected the design – the electrodes replaced with coals, were already parallel to each other, and the distance between the ends was always unchanged. In 1879, the American inventor Edison undertook to improve the design. He came to the conclusion that for a long and bright glow of a light bulb you need a suitable material for the thread, as well as the creation around the sparse space. Edison made a lot of experiments with a lot of scope, it was estimated that at least 6,000 different compounds were tested. Studies cost the American 100 thousand dollars. Edison gradually began to use metals for the thread, eventually settled on charred bamboo fibers. As a result, in the presence of 3 thousand spectators, the inventor publicly demonstrated the electric bulbs developed by him, illuminating not only his house, but also several neighboring streets. Edison’s lamp was the first, with a long service life and suitable for mass production.


This place is given to wonderful medicines, in particular penicillin. Antibiotics became one of the main discoveries of the last century, turning medicine over. Today, not everyone can imagine how much they owe to such medicinal products. Many will be surprised to learn that as early as 80 years ago tens of thousands of people died of dysentery, pneumonia was a deadly disease, sepsis threatened to kill almost all surgical patients, typhus was dangerous and difficult to treat, and the pulmonary plague sounded like a verdict. But all these terrible diseases, like others, previously incurable (tuberculosis), were defeated by antibiotics. The drugs had a significant impact on military medicine. Previously, most of the soldiers died not from bullets, but from the wounded wounds. After all, millions of bacteria-cocci penetrated there, which caused pus, sepsis, gangrene. The maximum that the surgeon had time to do was to amputate the affected part of the body. It turned out that it is possible to fight dangerous microorganisms with the help of their fellow men. Some of them in the process of their life emit substances that are capable of destroying other microbes. This idea appeared in the XIX century. Louis Pasteur discovered that anthrax bacilli perish under the influence of some other microbes. Over time, experiments and discoveries have given the world of penicillin. For those who have seen field surgeons, this medicine has become a true miracle. The most hopeless patients got up on their feet, having overcome the infection of blood or pneumonia. The discovery and creation of penicillin is considered one of the most significant discoveries in the history of the entire medicine, giving a tremendous impetus to its development.

Sail and ship.

The sail arose in a person’s life a long time ago, when there was a desire to go out into the sea and build a boat for this. The first sail was the usual animal hide. The sailor also had to hold her hands and orientate constantly with respect to the wind. When people came up with the idea of ​​using masts and reys – it is not known, but already on the most ancient images of the ships of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut times, various devices for working with sails, rigging, are visible. Thus it is clear that the sail originated in prehistoric times. It is believed that the first large sailboats appeared in Egypt, and the Nile became the first navigable river. Every year a mighty river spilled, cutting off each other from the city and the district. So the Egyptians had to master the navigation. At that time, ships played a much greater role in the economic life of the country than carts on wheels. One of the first types of ships is the barque, which is more than 7 thousand years old.Her models came down to us from the temples. Since there were few forests for the construction of the first vessels in Egypt, papyrus was used for these purposes. Its features and determined the design and shape of the ships. They were a crescent-shaped rook connected from papyrus beams, while the nose and forage were curved upwards. The hull of the vessel, for strength, was pulled together by cables. Over time, trade with the Phoenicians gave the country Lebanese cedar, the shipbuilding firmly included a tree. Compositions 5-thousand years ago give grounds to consider. That then the Egyptians used a straight sail strengthened on a two-legged mast. You could swim only by the wind, and with the side wind the mast was quickly removed. Approximately 4,600 years ago, a one-leg mast was used, which is still in use. The ship became easier to walk, it was able to maneuver. However, at that time the rectangular sail was very unreliable, besides it could only be used with a favorable wind. So it turned out that the main engine of the ship at that time was the muscular strength of the oarsmen. Then the maximum speed of the ships of the pharaohs was 12 km / h. Merchant ships made trips mainly along the coast, without going far into the sea. The next step in the development of the ships was made by the Phoenicians, who originally had a wonderful building material. 5 thousand years ago, with the beginning of the development of maritime trade, the Phoenicians began to build ships. At the same time, their sea vessels initially had design features from boats. On one-set fittings there were fixed stiffeners, covered with boards on top. On the idea of ​​such a construction of the Phoenicians may have pushed the skeletons of animals. As a matter of fact, the first frames, applied till now, appeared. It was the Phoenicians who created the first keelcraft. In the role of the keel, two barrels first joined at an angle. This gave the ships more stability, becoming the basis for the future development of shipbuilding and determining the shape of all future ships.

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