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Take 5 – Reinvent the wheel

Important inventions that have tremendously helped us across time.

There have been many great inventions over the course of human history and while it is impossible to go through them all, I thought I’d highlight a few that I think have been pivotal in our progression as a species. Wheel

I couldn’t use that phrase as the title without mentioned the how the wheel has been integral to much human accomplishment. Approximately 5,500 years old, the wheel has seen many essential functions that we now take for granted; transport, steering/navigation, energy (transference, storage and release) and shaping materials. Without the wheel we wouldn’t have been able to do many things, including the next item on the list…

Travel – internal combustion engine, cars and flight

The wheel helped us to move things and travel more easily, and the engine helped us to do it more effectively and efficiently. We went from developing the first commercially successful engine in the second half of the 19th century to flying in the early parts of the 20th before landing on the moon all within a century (give or take). I find this pretty remarkable.


I will also include medicine and contraception in this as well, with the reduction in diseases and the overall improvement to health and life expectancy it cannot be underestimated the impact that sanitation has had, which sadly in 2020, still not all the world has. I would hope the COVID-19 pandemic has made people appreciative of just how important good sanitation is to the wellbeing of a society.

Printing press

Otherwise dubbed the “Gutenberg Revolution” after its inventor Johannes Gutenberg, the printing press transformed our ability to transmit information from the 15th century onwards. The widespread emergence of the written word really set the world alight and propelled us into a new era of mass communication and knowledge transference. Obviously, the original “invention” of language is an integral precursor, but the printing press really catapulted it to another level, which the computer and internet have had a similar impact more recently.

Electricity and the lightbulb

Technically one doesn’t “invent” electricity, but we’ve certainly learned how to harness the energy conducted in more effective and efficient ways. Just think of all the things we need and use that require electricity. A lot of pioneering work kicked off in the 19th century thanks to people like Michael Faraday (foundations of electric motor / battery), Nikola Tesla (alternating current or “AC” system), Thomas Edison (lightbulb) and Alexander Graham Bell (telephone). With thanks to advancements in electrical understanding we now have the great power (pun intended) of refrigeration which is essential for food storage and for us in warmer climates, the joys of air conditioning. Our future certainly depends upon our improving understanding how to generate and utilise electricity.

It is going to be interesting to see what amazing creations are going to be invented going forward, and like most great things, I guarantee such human ingenuity will be done so out of necessity.

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