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back to article X-rays beat computer as best invention ever

As part of its centenary celebrations the Science Museum's curators chose ten objects from its collection and asked the public to vote on their favourite. From a list which included a Pilot ACE Computer, based on Alan Turing's work, the Apollo 10 Capsule, a Model T Ford, penicillin and the DNA double helix the public chose the X …

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did they seriously expect

anyone polled in the UK to say

Yes, i believe that the Nazis creating the V2 rocket was the finest techological advancement of our age

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Coat

Pendantic I know

But surely , the top 3 are all discoveries.... *not* inventions.. The x-ray MACHINE would be an invention, but penicillin was discovered and so was the double helix. I know , I know , I'll get my coat.

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doh

The computer has lost its magic. For most people it's just another home appliance and not that different from a washing machine or a television.

In fact, for a lot of people computers may invoke thoughts of work, errors, frustration, headaches... They're something very common and very commercial, so I don't blame the general public for not thinking too much of them.

And I agree that computers are not necessarily that great an invention, but I would argue that certainly neither are X-rays. I would go back to basics and say that the ``best'' inventions came hundreds of thousands of years ago -- written communication, mathematics and tool usage immediately come to mind. No other inventions would have been possible if those had not come first.

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Joke

Why wasnt the iPhone on the list?

Best. Phone. Ever.

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Extra pedantic

Apollo capsules were not an invention, though I'm sure they featured some.

The Nazi's V-2's engine was a liquid fuel rocket, which was invented by Robert Goddard.

Though you could say they invented the ballistic missile.

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FAIL

@ Why wasnt the iPhone on the list?

Because these are inventions/discoveries that have purported to push mankind forward, rather than a niche fad that is the doyenne of a few biased techno-geeks.

If you had your head out of your arse you might have seen that - but hey, guess where it was...

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The one they left out

And the one that won the previous best invention ever award, narrowly beating the wheel was .... the bicycle.

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Pirate

Inexplicably ?

The explanation is that X-Rays got the most votes.

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Headmaster

@Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

Slow horse day? Ran out of hay?

Marked as joke for a reason I suspect.

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FAIL

Why wasn't the 35mm film camera on the list?

I know that is sort of two inventions the film and the camera. But I would argue photography by this method is the most important as it has informed public opion, caught heart stopping moments (JFK, Twin Towers), brought the horrors of war and the acts that insue (WWII, Vietnam, Gulf) has allowed people top see things they would not nomally (were is X-ray without film). It is accessble to many (who can afford it). Film with the 35mm camera way more life changing and important to more poeple than any on the list.

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Coat

My top 5

1. Yoghurt with a flippable 'corner'

2. Driving gloves

3. Reinforced Steel Joint

4. Corduroy

5. Anusol

There, that was a useful exercise.

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Troll

DNA

was invented. Well I never knew that. I was under the false impression two blokes called Waston and Crick discovered it. Wakapedi has it wrong again.

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Pirate

Missed one

Refrigeration. Or am I the only one who likes to sleep in a house that's 72 degrees (F) at 70% humidity during August?

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Who votes on these things?

Seriously, the x-ray machine? If you look out of your window, what do you see? x-ray machines? No, you see production cars. What do you see if you look around your room? Mass produced cruft, that's what. Just like the Model-T.

And as has been pointed out, we did not invent the DNA double helix. Nor penecillin either. Although the *discovery* and subsequent farming of it has had a massive impact on our world.

You'd think they'd have the electricity generator or fertiliser in there...

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FAIL

X-Ray not the best

Air Conditioning (and refrigeration) is the best invention ever. If you live in southern US, like I do, you'll know how good AC really is. I don't know how people survived the high heat and high humidity before AC. The AC makes life liveable in many more places.

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Bah!

I'll bet that the religious right is gonna bust a gasket that God came in 3rd (invention of DNA).

Someone's in for a damned good smiting.

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@ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

Pull your own head out and check the FUCKING Icon :-)

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they got it all wrong

Try the number one is the flushing toilet with wide bore plumbing. X-ray machine stops working we'll go back to poking people and saying, "does it hurt there?". If all the toilets back up in the UK there would be a change of government in under a week...

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Go

To all the negativites...

The weird thing is that I don't disagree.

It's all very well and good for us techies to look down on others, but to most people something like the x-ray machine is fanastic. It's helped perform uncountable medical diagnoses for problems in every part of the body for vast amounts of people. You may not have been to hospital recently, but you will thank the deity or non-deity of your choice when you need that machine. The queues to use them are ample evidence of their utility.

It has helped doctors not only stop pain and anguish for people, but also to assist in growth and in preventing future problems.

So before you all scream things like 'the car', 'the fridge' (which is pretty cool, pun not intended), 'rockets' and such - just remember that none of those really help people. The x-ray machine has truly helped people over the years, and I think it may very well deserve the kudos it has received.

And to those who pointed out that DNA was discovered and not invented...well, you're right...but perhaps it's not just about DNA itself, but the processes to discover, study and use it?

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Unhappy

Dough!

And sliced bread didn't even get a mention.

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@Paul Charters

If you measure "helping people" by the number of lives saved (which you seem to be doing), then I'll wager refrigeration beats out X-Ray machines hands down. Cars (in the form of ambulances) probably do as well, though of course, they also kill a load of people (whereas X rays do not). Rockets have no saved lives quite as directly, however they have allowed a lot of research that has saved people's lives. On the same lines, proper sanitation (as suggested by Paranoid Consultant) beats x-ray machines as well.

If you measure improving peoples lives as improving their quality of life, then both refrigeration, sanitation, and automobiles are even more the clear victors over x-ray machines.

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Boffin

Coincidence

What a nice coincidence, that an "X-Ray machine" was the tool that allowed Watson and Crick to discover the DNA double helix. Once you see the X-ray diffraction pattern <http://www.scifun.ed.ac.uk/card/images/flakes/b-form.jpg> it's quite self-explanatory, really.

As for the greatest inventions, how about

the smelting of metals,

the electric generator,

the printing press,

the tricycle (take that, bicycle!),

the toaster, or

the use of yeast and fermentation to create tasty, yet stimulating beverages?

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Joke

best inventions were all Roman.....

better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order

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FAIL

Science, what "science"?

"science museum 100 - celebrating a century of science"?

That'll be the same bunch that are promoting "warmist" consensus (see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/proveit.aspx)!

Strange that half of the icons are carbon munching, planet destroying monsters?

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Headmaster

Shouldn't...

a jail sentence for pissing on a war memorial be the best invention. After all, there is no such crime no matter how many Daily Mail readers have aneurysms including the fuckwit judge.

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Boffin

X-rays are Not invention, their discovery

"X-rays beat computer as best invention ever"

X-rays are Not invention, their discovery, totally different things.

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Pint

Re: Coincidence

good job! you hit this one on the head, but I'm not sure you know why, so permit me to extrapolate a bit.

"the use of yeast and fermentation to create tasty, yet stimulating beverages?"

Beer is, without a doubt, the single greatest discovery of mankind. It is the only thing which permitted the movement from nomatic hunter-gatherer cultures, to agritarian civilazations. "Liquid bread" (and other fermentaions as well) permitted retention of a percentage of the caloric value of crops, without the possibllity of spoilage.

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Hmm...

I think part of the problem is that, in general, people kind of know how a computer works, sure they usually don't really, but you can see that there are parts, disk, cpu, monitor etc. and you can see what they do and understand their use. The x-ray machine, however, shines 'magic beams' /that you can't see/ through flesh and muscule and exposes a photographic plate of some sort (Or modern equivilant) showing you what's inside. That's ace!

(Maybe it's just because I understand about computers too much...)

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What about...

What about written language?

It's purely a human invention, for it does not exist in nature.

-dZ.

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Bronze badge

My top 3

1. Beer

2. Petrol

3. Lycra

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Pint

Mein Toppe Cinque

1. Coca Cola

2. Bit Torrents

3. Wikipedia

4. Black Angus Cattle

5. Printing Press

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@Paul Charters

I can see what you're saying, and I've considered all of your points carefully. However, in terms of pure advancement of humankind, the greatest of all our inventions would quite obviously have to be Sky+.

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Stop

@MeRp

Unfortunately, exposure to X-rays is known to cause deadly cancers. While I'm sure the majority of X-ray exposures cause no permanent damage, it's not quite true to say that X-ray machines don't kill people.

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Alien

Rockets do save lives

"Rockets have no saved lives quite as directly, however they have allowed a lot of research that has saved people's lives."

http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/

Over 26,000 people rescued worldwide by the NOAA's SARSAT (Search & Rescue Satellite) system.

Howabout all the people who _haven't_ died lost at sea thanks to GPS?

Howabout the fact that we can see deadly hurricanes coming far in advance thanks to Earth observing satellites?

Satellites don't help people...Unless you live in a place like Florida that gets pummeled by hurricanes all the time. Or unless you're at sea and get ample warning of an impending storm.

That more than covers the people who died building and being shot at by the V-2, and nuclear ballistic missiles have never actually been used.

So I'd say the liquid fuel rocket (here represented by the V-2's engine though Goddard actually came up with it) has saved lives.

Comparable to the x-ray? Heck no! But its not nothing by nerd fodder. It is very relevant to many millions of people's livelihood.

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