Top 10 inventions that changed the world

The internal combustion engine

Top 10 inventions that changed the world

In these engines, the combustion of fuel releases a high-temperature gas, which, as it expands, applies a force to a piston, moving it. Thus, combustion engines convert chemical energy into mechanical work. Decades of engineering by many scientists went into designing the internal combustion engine, which took its (essentially) modern form in the latter half of the 19th century. The engine ushered in the Industrial Age, as well as enabling the invention of a huge variety of machines, including modern cars and aircraft.

Pictured are the operating steps of a four-stroke internal combustion engine. The strokes are as follows: 1) Intake stroke — air and vaporised fuel are drawn in. 2) Compression stroke – fuel vapor and air are compressed and ignited. 3) Power stroke — fuel combusts and the piston is pushed downwards, powering the machine. 4) Exhaust stroke — exhaust is driven out.

The telephone

Top 10 inventions that changed the world

Several inventors did pioneering work on electronic voice transmission – many of whom later filed intellectual property lawsuits when telephone use exploded – but it was Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell who was the first to be awarded a patent for the electric telephone on March 7  1876 (his patent drawing is pictured above). Three days later, Bell made the first telephone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson, saying “Mr Watson, come here — I want to see you,” according to author A. Edward Evenson in his book, “The Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876: The Elisha Gray-Alexander Bell Controversy and Its Many Players” (McFarland, 2015).

Bell’s inspiration for the telephone was influenced by his family. His father taught speech elocution and specialized in teaching the deaf speak, his mother – an accomplished musician – lost her hearing in later life and his wife Mabel, who he married in 1877, had been deaf since the age of five, according to Evenson. The invention quickly took off and revolutionized global business and communication. When Bell died on August 2, 1922, all telephone service in the United States and Canada was stopped for one minute to honor him. 

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