There is a word in English called Serendipity. It means accidental discovery. The first time I heard it was in Chemistry class in XIth std. I took an instant liking to the word and I have enjoyed it since then. The reason being that I feel all the essential things that humans have developed for their lives have come through serendipity than by following any process.
Process, given all its due respect and greatness, is still bad. It makes people lazy, it makes them feel unwanted and it makes life boring. There is lack of thrill and excitement when you are following a process. Its like exams, a neccesary evil. But then there was a time when this evil was not very prevelant. That was the time when the greatest inventions were made. Wondering when this was? The Stone Age! And a little after that. 🙂 These inventions were the foundations of something called civilization. Hence I consider them most important and fascinating. When civilization reached its peak, it had to deteriorate and in came the D Words – PROCESS and RULES and STRICTNESS!! The only exception to this rule is the Small Pox Vaccine invented by Jenner. The great man used his thinking and followed a process to make medicine to cure the world.
Anyways, I just decided to put down what I think are the greatest inventions (honestly I do not see the point in differentiating between inventions and discoveries except for gaining 2 marks in school exams.) According to me, if you find something that no one knew until then, its an invention regardless of whether it exists by nature or not. So, here goes:
1. Fire – This tops the list of inventions. Great stuff cave people!! There was no process to invent it. The cave people just tried doing stuff and ended up with this invention without which nothing would be possible. Cooking came from this. It just amazes me to think how cave people managed to harness fire, how they managed to make use of Agni and how they actually thought it could be used to cook food. Awesome creativity!!
2. Languages and Books – Nobody wrote down how a language can be evolved :-). Nobody created it. It was necessary and hence it came into existence. Its nature’s law! Two members of the species essentially have to communicate with each other. Humans went an extra mile and gave it the form of writing apart from just speaking. This led to the invention of my best friends – Books! Humans were bored, they hunted, got food and then what do we do? Unleash our creativities!! Invent!! There was no one to govern them. Hence, they could invent. Not that they were unruly. They had the sense to respect nature. This formed the basis of religion. Coming back to languages and books and writing, they wrote crudely in the beginning and bettered it later on. The development of this field is what you see here – Blogs!!
3. Farming – I have often wondered how they knew how to make rice and wheat and how they ever founf out what grew under the arth. How did they know that only so much of water and so much of sunlight and so much of fertilizer was needed? How did they know to transplant paddy from its original place to a water logged one? And then how did they know when to harvest?
4. The Wheel And The Steam Engine – Nothing better has happened to transportation ever since.
5. Calendar – Is there a better way to group activities that happened round the year? The ancient calendars were invented based on the positions of the sun and the moon round the clock and round the year. One can only marvel at the diligence of the people who worked at this.
6. Radio – What better has happened to mass communication since the invention of the radio? How can one not admire the guts of a guy who thought he can communicate to the world WIRELESS? How in the name of God could he think such a thing?
7. Humans evolved from monkeys and The world is round – Two statements that took great guts to make. two statements that required a wholly new angle of thinking.
8. Discovery of the proton and electron – This I think will form the basis of energy in the future. Not much of it can be appreciated now. The biggest nuclear plant in the US is called Shiva and the fact that Classical Carnatic music is played in the plant at all times in soft tones is an indication of the advanced technology that the ancient Indian Philosophy is all about.
Telephones and Cameras are two other things I admire a lot. But they did not make it to this list because these inventions need real guts.
Whatever else that has come in this world uses these technologies or combines them.
These are all the stuff that cavemen and people after them invented. After the age of the cavemen, inventions have been subjected to great difficulties and now its worse than ever. For Marconi to invent the radio or Gutenburg to invent the printing press, they had to reject (i mean absolutely reject) all authority. They had to overcome a great barrier to have freedom of creativity. Hence those inventions seem great to me as well.
Come to think of it, what do we do in our every day lives? Most of us work to obtain food and spend leisure time in pursuing our passions. The cavemen did the same. The irony is we call ourselves "Advanced". 🙂 We havent given the world anything more useful than they did. I guess civilization lost its meaning somewhere down the line and somewhere else down the line, it was forgotten completely. And we arent making any efforts to find it either!