What is the best invention in history? – Morgenbladet

Simen Ådnøy Ellingsen, physicist

My candidates for the most important invention is the number zero. We are so used to zero that we take it for granted, but the number zero wasn’t widely accepted in Europe until the 15th century, when we already had universities for over 200 years! Not only did the zero in calculus make it easier, the concept of zero was absolutely essential to the development of the mathematics behind all modern science.

Neither the ancient Romans nor the Greeks had any symbol for zero. Instead of 10 and 100, the Romans wrote “X” and “C”, and although Greek philosophers often supported the term “nothing”, they did not give it a separate symbol. They will probably see the inconsistency in the existence of the number “zero”: it is a thing and not a thing at the same time.

Zero was invented in India a few hundred years after Christ, as part of the Indo-Arabic decimal system we use around the world today. The new order spread across the Middle East and the Arab world to the Moors in present-day Spain. But Europe spent a long time embracing this zero, despite ardent supporters such as Pope Sylvester II, who was interested in mathematics. It was a period of crusade, and Islamic thought faced great skepticism.

Anyone who has attempted to write large numbers in Roman numerals, especially counting with them, will have experienced how practical the decimal system is with respect to. The smart thing is how zero can show that the number space is empty. In the number 102, for example, “2” is in one place, “1” is in the 100th place, and the number “0” indicates that we have nothing in the tenth place. With the Indo-Arabic system, one can write as large numbers as he wants, adding and subtracting them as we learned in primary school (and may have forgotten later).

But the real genius was not only to use zero as a placeholder within large numbers (an idea that was also present in the Mayans and Babylonians), but to consider zero as a number in its own right. The astronomer Brahmagupta wrote the first known rules for calculating zero in 628. He soon ran into problems when he tried to find rules for dividing by zero. As we were taught in school: Zero sharing is bullshit! But what if we divide zero by zero? Will it be zero? Or will it be nonsense? Or will there be something in between? “zero!” Brahmagupta answers, but that’s nonsense. The correct answer (“depends”) is not as important as the question itself, because the “0/0” problem was the germ of what became a thousand years later differential analysis, and is the basis for nearly all scientific theories today.

A revolution, simply … and then I did not mention that from the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthe zero point, the origin, Descartes (and others) invented the coordinate system, which can describe Greek geometry with numbers and equations and open up new worlds of theorems and techniques that you and I use every day without even thinking about it .

Marianne Heim Eriksen, archaeologist

There are many heights to take when we think of important technological breakthroughs in human history’s two million years. The first stone axes. fire. Agriculture (which, by the way, contrary to popular belief, led to poorer living conditions, health, and life expectancy than we were as hunters/gatherers). Written language, which allowed the storage of external memory, new forms of communication, new forms of art.

Personally, I would like to monitor the primitive condoms and then modern contraceptives more closely. Access to safe contraception increases women’s life expectancy, reduces infant mortality, and gives everyone a greater degree of control over their bodies and their lives. A number of social conditions and constellations that we take for granted were nearly impossible in times when any lying down could result in a child. Contraception also affects the bottom line: in the Norwegian context, it has been calculated that women’s high participation in working life contributes more to the economy than oil.

But really, it’s interesting to think about what we mean by “inventions” and how technological breakthroughs happen. It’s not that inventions arise in some kind of vacuum, the “brainchild” of a lone genius. In fact, there is a lot of exciting research now being turned on its head about the way we have traditionally thought about human cognitive and biological development. So is it the fact that when the early human species began to create more advanced tools, was it a product of the fact that the cognitive ability of the brain had changed? Or could it be that the creation of stone axes and other tools shaped our plastic brain?

Some researchers argue that not only the brain but also features of our bodies (such as fine motor skills) are a result of the things we’ve been surrounded by and the techniques we’ve learned in building, creating, eating, and so on. And so “inventions” occur in the interaction between humans and things – between nerve signals in the brain, body, hands, and the objects and materials we interact with – whether it’s clay formed in utensils or programming in Python. Thus, man is not the author alone. We create new things by changing the physical world, which in turn changes ourselves. Just think about how the smartphone changes the way we work, where we work from, and how we communicate with friends, family and strangers; The muscles of the neck, shoulders and hands. Changes that no inventor can fully predict.

Ergo, the question becomes: Are we humans adept technology inventors – or is the opposite really true? Is man the most important invention of technology?

Marte CW Solheim, Innovation Researcher

Often the best invention of all is language, fire, wheel, penicillin or electricity to name a few, while many researchers in innovation and regional studies claim that cities and their organization are the best invention ever. This is because cities stimulate new inventions and innovations, and connections between different people across different sectors. in this book City Triumph: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Ed Glaeser claims: The city is our greatest invention and by settling in it, you gain rich access to people and ideas. This is the big secret behind the city’s gains, access to new ideas due to densification (accumulation of people in the city) and diversification (different people and industries).

Richard Florida writes that the most important decision you can make in life is deciding where you live. The “creative class” (researchers, designers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, poets, programmers) settled in the cities. This, the creative class, has a huge impact on how work is organized, Florida claims. Not only work, but also social relations one can have, because man and the city form quadrants, and quadrants of color. Precisely for this reason, there is more research work pointing to the benefits of “local hype” and random encounters in cities, while others point out that such random encounters rarely lead to innovation, something targeted initiatives do. Innovation often occurs when different knowledge is crossed, such as in cities for example, but there is not necessarily an automatic gain in being in the same location. Here one must facilitate constructive and creative dynamics in and between diverse groups, whereby one can unleash the full potential of human resources and the diversity they represent, through exchange and learning. Not unlike the rivers of Olaf H.

He meets Elvane, from every mountain. / Grab hands. He mixes his song with his blood. (Olav H. Hogg)

Do you have questions for researchers? Send an email to ukens@morgenbladet.no

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