What are the best gadgets ever invented? Popular Science gathered a distinguished cast of characters and asked them what were the 101 most life changing gadgets. The panel assembled in 2011 included such diverse as Buzz Aldrin, David Pogue the technology writer for the New York Times, plus dozens of technology innovators from almost every field including crime, medicine, the arts, etc. The question for the group, what are the 101 best gadgets of all time?
The list is interesting and a bit shocking. To ease your mind, Television was rated number 3, Radio number 2, and the personal computer number 5. Portable air conditioning is number 6, beating the phonograph number 8, the telephone number 7 and the ubiquitous alarm clock number 9. The light bulb beat the battery and the bicycle beat the match. Those are some shocking ratings.
Other shockers, the handheld GPS beats the vacuum (that is difficult to believe), and the wristwatch barely beat the HDTV. The ball point pen beat the zipper (also hard to believe) and the can opener was bested by the printer and stopwatch. Most shocking to me were two things. First that the Apple telephone was the number 1 gadget, remember this ranking was done in 2011. Second, the condom was left off the list. In a parallel survey done by a English newspaper the condom made the list.
Most amazing to me is the Hypodermic Syringe. It ranked an amazing number 4 on the list. The Hypodermic needle is generally understood to be first experimented with in the 1600’’s by a Christopher Wren who used a needle like device in experiments using animals. However some believe that the needle was mentioned in the bible (some believe the words, “anointing” and “inunction” meant injection) and the Odyssey of Homer.
However Dr. Alexander Wood, is generally credited with the first injection of medicine with a syringe. According to Wikipedia Dr. Wood’s main contribution was the addition of a glass container on top of the needle so that the dosage could be estimated. Dr. Charles Hunter (according to Wikipedia) was the first to coin the term hypodermic needle. With “Hypo” (a Greek translation for under) and “Dermic” (a Greek translation for skin). Or literally meaning under the skin, or as we know it under the surface of the skin.
Despite some issues, hypodermic needles became institutionalized with vaccinations for the polio epidemic. We of course know that the Hypodermic needle is central to the delivery of insulin. In fact an almost universal memory for most type 1 and these days many type 2 diabetics is the gift of the orange. You know that time in the hospital when the nurse brings in the syringe and tells you to practice so tomorrow you can give yourself the injection.
I know that moment for many was traumatic. I guess for me it was not. Instead, I ate the orange and threw away the saline practice vial. My only response was that I was very hungry. The same thing happened the second day and finally on the third, I was directed to give the shot. Well it was pretty easy really. I had studied the art of it watching my mother give her shots for years. In fact like many of our type 1 members I barely knew a day when hypodermic syringes were not part of my life. So using one was just a matter of course. I guess I didn’t realize that if I had given myself the injection earlier I probably would have gotten out at least one day sooner.
Today, I have about 300 syringes in my possession even though I use a pump. Why? Well it is my backup plan. No I do not need 300, that is just what I had left when I switched to the pump. Yet some diabetics have zero syringes in their possession. They are able to trust their pump to the place that the keep no spares. I guess I am more old school.
So is the syringe the number 4 top gadget in the history of man? As a man who used one for over 27 year, it is difficult to argue with that place. Think of the lives saved the people who have used them and you have to agree the syringe is a pretty amazing gadget. As wild it sounds form a guy who uses a pump, I for one am darn glad it was invented.