Sarah M: As 2009 comes to a close, we are faced with the never-ending lists of “Best of 2009” – best movies, music, books, websites, photos and celebrities, just to name a few. One of the most exciting and interesting lists I have come across is the 50 Best Inventions of 2009, which has recently been published by TIME. The inventions range from nifty gadgets to breakthrough medical technologies from all over the world, including the US, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Holland and Great Britain.
The number one invention of 2009 was awarded to NASA’s Ares Rockets. The Ares 1 rocket is an impressive 100 metres tall, manufactured with lightweight composites, superior engines, and advanced computer systems, giving it more reliability and power. NASA designers claim that the Ares fleet of rockets with be 10 times safer than current shuttles, and up to three times safer than competing boosters. It will allow for travel and exploration into realms of outerspace that we have not yet encountered, which truly boggles the mind.
Australia earned the number two position for the successful breeding of southern bluefin tuna, by Clean Seas, a feat that had previously been deemed as impossible. The southern bluefin populations had been decreasing rapidly, plummeting more than 90 % since the 1950’s, due to increasing demand from overseas markets. Clean Seas has now established sustainable seafood farming, and they are also working towards becoming a carbon neutral business.
Energy saving was a popular theme in the 50 Best Inventions of 2009, which brings us to invention number three: The $10 million lightbulb. In seeking an LED alternative for the common 60-watt bulb in the quest to save energy in households, Philips Electronics designed a light bulb that emits the same amount of light that an incandescent lamp does, but it uses less than 10 watts, and lasts for 25,000 hours – this is a whopping 25 times longer than the bulbs that we used to know and love!
In working my way through to number 50, I discovered a vast array of intriguing inventions, including the teleportation of atoms, an AIDS vaccine, an electric eye, solar roof shingles, a handheld ultrasound, a bladeless fan, a fully electric car, wooden bones, a human-powered vending machine, a foldable speaker, a swimming supersuit, spiderweb silk, a 3D camera, as well as a car that is powered by a biodiesel mix of chocolate and vegetable oil.
It’s amazing to read about the ideas that people have, and the inventions that eventually surface. Not only do lists like these allow us to praise the scientific minds that work hard to improve our everyday living, but it also gives us just a small glimpse into the future, and what it might hold for all of us.