Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Time's "The 50 Worst Inventions"

Life magazine did 30 dumb inventions, and now Time magazine does The 50 Worst Inventions.

Early in the Time magazine article is the Segway, followed by "New Coke," and Microsoft's "Clippy."

Then "Agent Orange," CueCat, and "subprime mortgages." One gets the idea that there is a bit of diversity in the invention categories.

This is apparent in number 7: crinoline, juxtaposed against number 8, Nintendo's "Virtual Boy." Farmville is at 9.

Rounding out the "top ten" is hydrogenated oils, which includes the text: In the late 1800s, people began adding hydrogen to oils like vegetable oil to increase the shelf life of foods. But modern studies found that the combination, which does not occur naturally, had unforeseen health consequences, contributing to a rise in bad cholesterol and increasing the risk of heart disease. Can you say cis and trans?

Honegar of Dr. DeForest C. Jarvis makes 11, the second invention related to a specific inventor on the list (Segway was the first).

Number 12 was "hydrogen blimps" (zeppelins, not blimps, would be correct ) with the text: When the Hindenburg was designed in 1931, its makers made the fateful choice to use hydrogen instead of helium to set the blimp aloft. and the memorable line: Most current blimps, including the famous Goodyear ones, are powered by far less volatile helium.

Relevant text from wikipedia illustrates several of the errors in the Time text
#1. Zeppelins, unlike blimps, are rigid. [The most important feature of Zeppelin's design was a rigid metal alloy skeleton, made of rings and longitudinal girders. ]
#2. Of the fateful "choice": However, in the new political situation, Eckener had not obtained the helium to inflate it due to a military embargo; only the United States possessed the rare gas in usable quantities. So, in what ultimately proved a fatal decision, the Hindenburg was filled with flammable hydrogen.
#3. Of the invention history: [Zeppelin's] plans were reviewed by committee in 1894[2] and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899.

"Hair in a can" made 13, DDT 14 (with mention of Muller's 1948 Nobel prize), Auto Tune 15, "Red Dye No.2" made 16, and the Ford Pinto made 17.

Number 18, the parachute jacket, illustrates a situation wherein the inventor (Franz Reichelt ) died because of his belief in the invention.

Betamax, technically superior to VHS, came in at 19, and the "baby cage" at 20.

Of something still being used, plastic grocery bags come in at 28. The flying car shows up at 36, with another inventor killed.
Asbestos is at 37.

Pay toilets show up at 42, with mention of Madison Square Park.

Number 44 is leaded gasoline, complete with a citation to a Time magazine article of November 10, 1924.

Number 50 is Vio.

See previous IPBiz post, containing a link to Life's list-->

Demonstrating a dumb invention to a US President?

If you are wondering about overlap, "honegar" is number 11 on BOTH lists, but Life rated the "baby cage" at 6. Venetian blind sunglasses are number are 21 on the Life list.

Life's 22 (birdman suit) illustrated an inventor who died while using his invention.

**See also

Stupid Homemade Inventions (20 pics)

***See also

The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

[Note that Microsoft's clippy is mentioned.]


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