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Top 10 inventions that changed the world

Contraceptives

Top 10 inventions that changed the world

Not only have birth control pills, condoms and other forms of contraception sparked a sexual revolution in the developed world by allowing men and women to have sex for leisure rather than procreation, they have also drastically reduced the average number of offspring per woman in countries where they are used. With fewer mouths to feed, modern families have achieved higher standards of living and can provide better for each child. Meanwhile, on the global scale, contraceptives are helping the human population gradually level off; our number will probably stabilize by the end of the century. Certain contraceptives, such as condoms, also curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Natural and herbal contraception has been used for millennia. Condoms or ‘sheaths’ have existed in one form or another since ancient times, according to scholar Jessica Borge in her book “Protective Practices: A History of the London Rubber Company and the Condom Business” (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020), with the rubber condom developed in the 19th century. Meanwhile, the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive pill in the United States in 1960 and by 1965, more than 6.5 million American women were on the pill, according to author Jonathan Eig in his book, “The Birth of the Pill: How Four Pioneers Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015).  

Scientists are continuing to make advancements in birth control, with some labs even pursuing a male form of “the pill.” A permanent birth-control implant called Essure was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, though in 2016, the FDA warned the implant would need stronger warnings to tell users about serious risks of using Essure. 

The Internet

Top 10 inventions that changed the world

The internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that is used by billions of people worldwide. In the 1960s, a team of computer scientists working for the U.S. Defense Department’s ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) built a communications network to connect the computers in the agency, called ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet. It used a method of data transmission called “packet switching”, developed by computer scientist and team member Lawrence Roberts, based on prior work of other computer scientists. 

This technology was progressed in the 1970s by scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, who developed the crucial communication protocols for the internet, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), according to computer scientist Harry R. Lewis in his book “Ideas That Created the Future: Classic Papers of Computer Science” (MIT Press, 2021). For this, Kahn and Cerf are often credited as “inventors of the internet”.

In 1989, the internet evolved further thanks to the invention of the World Wide Web by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research). According to CERN, “the basic idea of the WWW was to merge the evolving technologies of computers, data networks and hypertext into a powerful and easy to use global information system.” The development of the WWW opened up the world of the internet to everybody and connected the world in a way that it had never been before. 

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