Amazing Inventions

Amazing Inventions

Amazing Inventions

Innovation is everywhere – it always has been, ever since we first walked the Earth. From the small and seemingly insignificant to the most major inventions, they have all shaped our lives, even if we might not know it. So now it's time to celebrate them. In How It Works Book of Amazing Inventions, uncover the Roman innovations that are still with us today like the aqueduct as well as the terrifying medical tools that fell out of use (for good reason). Find out who invented the first ever computer, and explore the future of new technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Hop on the Space Shuttle, the vehicle that took humans into orbit, before we reveal how NASA has contributed to the everyday objects that you can find in your home. Finally, meet the geniuses behind innovations throughout history, from Leonardo da Vinci and Joseph Lister to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Hedy Lamarr, as you discover the most amazing inventions. The journey starts just over the page.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

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28 Min.
greatest inventions

What is it to be human? That question is hard to answer, but one thing that most would agree plays a large part in it is our creativity. Machines – even revolutionary ones – lack the ability to think outside the box, or to add two and two together and make five. They can often outperform us in many tasks, both physically and mentally. However, the creative element that led to their own existence still remains elusive. And so it has been throughout time. Human ingenuity has led to the creation of thousands upon thousands of tools, machines, systems, processes and materials that have made our lives easier and helped us better understand the world. From the wheel to the refrigerator, printing press to magnetic compass, humanity has always pushed its…

1 Min.
patent pending

While today the patent is best known for the ongoing corporate patent wars between companies like Apple and Samsung, originally it was an incredibly simple thing. When someone made an invention, their labour was protected from theft so they could enjoy any material benefits that derived from it. The first reference of a patent system dates from 500 BCE, where in the Ancient Greek city of Sybaris “encouragement was held out to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury, the profits arising from which were secured to the inventor by patent for the space of a year”. The history of modern patent law, however, is now widely agreed to have started in Italy in 1474, when a Venetian statute decreed that all completed inventions had to be made public…

2 Min.
accidents of invention

Penicillin When Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming decided to take a month-long holiday in August 1928 to see his family, he left his London lab in a bit of a mess – including abandoning numerous Petri dishes of staphylococci. Upon his return he noticed that on one of the dishes a mould had grown that had killed any nearby staphylococci. After regrowing the mould in a pure culture, he found that it destroyed a number of disease-causing bacteria. As a result, penicillin – one of the most successful antibiotics to this day – was born. Coca-Cola Probably the most commercially successful accident of all time, the soft drink Coca-Cola was not the corporate juggernaut it is today when invented but rather a medicinal cure for headaches… Or so the pharmacist John Pemberton from Atlanta,…

1 Min.
vi inventions of ancient rome

Perhaps the greatest of all the ancient civilisations, Ancient Rome represented the age of classical antiquity and helped create the world we live in today. The massive engineering projects that were undertaken and the advances in medicine and society ensure Roman influence can still be felt now. For example, concrete and cement were first popularised in Ancient Rome, as was a type of central heating known as a hypocaust. One of the most remarkable traits of all, though, was the ability for the Romans to work all their schemes and inventions into fully functioning cities within an extensive empire. Rome itself was a bustling metropolis that no other civilisation matched in prosperity and size for centuries afterward. Nowhere else in the ancient world had grand shopping centres like Trajan’s Market, specialised…

2 Min.
1 engineering in roman home life

The citizens of Rome had to be properly housed to ensure that the vast urban sprawl could operate as an organised society. Prior to the Romans, impressive structures had been built by the Egyptians and the Greeks, but never on the scale of the Romans. Roman building techniques owed a lot to Greek and Etruscan influences. Houses were one or two storeys high and included lots of different sections. Ideally adapted to the Mediterranean heat, the typical house often had no windows, instead fitted with an atrium to act as an open-air courtyard in the middle of the building. Life in a house was boosted by a fully functioning public welfare system that provided grain to 300,000 of Rome’s families every year. If you wanted some retail therapy, Trajan’s Market had…

1 Min.
2 roman roads

Roman roads interlinked cities and towns, allowing rapid military and administrative communications. Construction began with a trench, which was filled with a base of stones and rocks. These were packed together tightly, usually with cement, to create a firm foundation for armies to march on and chariots to ride across. Large paving stones were used on the surface. These were placed and fitted by hand along with channels on the side of the road that allowed water to run off into surrounding fields. In the UK, roads such as the A1 and A5 owe their origins to the Roman conquest of Britain. © Thinkstock; Look and Learn; Diego Delso, delso.photo; CG Textures…