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  #1  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:42 AM
PepperMan PepperMan is offline
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Which single event, in your opinion, had the GREATEST effect on how history has unfolded. I mean this in terms of:

If it didn't happen, the world as we know it would be DRASTICALLY different.
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:51 AM
Perderabo Perderabo is offline
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The creation of life on Earth.
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  #3  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:55 AM
jayron 32 jayron 32 is offline
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For anyone seriously interested in the OP's topic, I HIGHLY recommend the BBC series "The Day The Universe Changed," hosted by historian James Burke, that deals with this exact topic; what inventions/ideas literally changed the very nature of the world. You can probably find it at your local library, if it is large enough, or perhaps order it on line. I'm a HUGE James Burke fan, and this series is almost as good as the very first "Connections" series.


Now that that hijack is over, I would have to say that it is most definately the printing press. This is not to say that it wouldn't have been invented anyways by someone else, but Guttenburg's little converted winepress has had a greater impact on the "collective knowledge" of mankind than any other single invention or event.

Though, I should hold to the caveat that the world is not the product of single events. As I noted, if Guttenburg hadn't, somebody else most certainly would have. The progress of humanity is the product of multiple, often unrelated, events coming togethr in unique ways to effect change. Anyone we can point to as an "inventor" or "inovator" is usually just Johnny On-The-Spot. He was lucky enough to be born in the right place at the right time (and have had someone notice in the right way). The book certainly changed the way the world worked, but the very invention of the book was as much a product of the Zeitgeist as the mind of any single human.
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  #4  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:57 AM
DVous Means DVous Means is offline
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How about the birth of Jesus Christ? If he had never been born, the rest of his life, deeds and consequences would never have been.

While I am firmly agnostic (and leaning towards atheist), the fact that the entire Western way of life is based around the events attributed to this one man, surely has to validate his existence. Our calendar, our laws, our religion, our moral values, our history all are tied the the central core of Christ's life and teachings. It's hard to think of anyone else who has made such an profound impact on the world.
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  #5  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:58 AM
ATTGuy ATTGuy is offline
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You mean the evolution of life on earth, don't you?

(ducking the barrage)


Seriously, I'd say that whole extinction thing. Or perhaps WWII, or maybe the renaissance, or was it when humans learned to use fire (or was it tools?) or could it have been the invention of the automobile, or the day I won $15 at the dollar slots at Circus Circus....


never mind, it's too hard to decide.
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  #6  
Old 06-28-2000, 10:58 AM
kiffa kiffa is offline
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Ah, Jayron32, you are so right - printing press it is.
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  #7  
Old 06-28-2000, 11:00 AM
missbunny missbunny is offline
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I'll agree with jayron about the printing press.
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  #8  
Old 06-28-2000, 11:04 AM
G.B.H. Hornswoggler G.B.H. Hornswoggler is offline
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This is a no-brainer

The invention of agriculture, of course. Human life as we know it -- certainly anything that we would call civilization -- was impossible until mankind developed a sedentary lifestyle, which agriculture made possible.
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  #9  
Old 06-28-2000, 11:17 AM
manhattan manhattan is offline
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Quote:

Which single event, in your opinion...
::Sigh:: Solicitations of opinion belong, oddly enough, in In My Humble Opinion.

Moving the thread.
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  #10  
Old 06-28-2000, 11:21 AM
Sofa King Sofa King is offline
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Let's not forget the domestication of the silkworm, which led to expanded trade throughout Asia all the way to the Mediterranean. Those trade routes in turn facilitated the wide distribution of inventions from paper to the stirrup to the compass to gunpowder. Not to mention the wide distribution of deadly contagious diseases, which allowed disease-resistant Europeans to depopulate three continents for their further expansion.
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2000, 11:33 AM
PepperMan PepperMan is offline
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Sorry Mr. Perfect

You're joking aren't you?

For cryiung out loud Manny It's a general question.
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2000, 12:19 PM
Edwardina Edwardina is offline
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I have to throw my hat into the ring with: Elec-tricity, E-lec-tricity! *hums ala Schoolhouse Rock*
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2000, 01:48 PM
Montfort Montfort is offline
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The invention of gunpowder. Changed the way people kill each other for better, or for worse.
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  #14  
Old 06-28-2000, 02:28 PM
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The transistor, the basis of miniturization. Otherwise your desktop would fill your house, and you have to carry your PDA in an 18-wheeler.
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  #15  
Old 06-28-2000, 02:36 PM
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Nothing against Jesus, Caesar, Alexander the Great or even the cultivation of grain, but I have to go with the printing press.
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  #16  
Old 06-28-2000, 03:08 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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I would have to say the divorce of King Henry VIII. It gave a huge boost to the Protestant reformation.
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  #17  
Old 06-28-2000, 03:26 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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The person who first learned to MAKE tools not just use the rocks around them but actually make the tool. That would have to be the biggest single event, at least for humans.
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  #18  
Old 06-28-2000, 03:34 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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I seem to remember a small article in a scholarly magazine (the name of which escapes me), which declares use of the number 0 as the single most important event in human history. Printing press - very good. But would have been figured out by some handy man somewhere. But they (and I'm SO sorry I can't remember the citation!) held that zero was quite unique and a stretch of the ole noggin'.

Any help from someone who is actually smart?

Connor
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  #19  
Old 06-28-2000, 04:07 PM
Dragwyr Dragwyr is offline
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Back in December '99, The Discovery Channel did a documentary series on the most influential people of the last millenium, and guess who was at #1: Gutenburg.. for the reasons stated earlier.

Others who I think helped shaped the course of history from that list were Newton, Edison, Einstein, Pasteur... the list goes on. I don't think I could name one event or person though that is responsible for the greatest change. There are just too many turning points in history to consider.
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  #20  
Old 06-28-2000, 05:48 PM
jamshid jamshid is offline
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I wish I knew him...

The death of WallyM7.

I've never met the man, and I've only read his online posts, but... he seemed capable of anything, and most SDMBers would be the worse for never having had his input.
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  #21  
Old 06-29-2000, 07:55 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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The invention of the personal computer and the
Internet. While it's too early to judge, I
think it's already changed the world.
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  #22  
Old 06-29-2000, 11:40 AM
xizor xizor is offline
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The creation of the Straight Dope - the first step in eliminating ignorance.
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  #23  
Old 06-29-2000, 02:05 PM
gobear gobear is offline
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My birth. Of course, this 666 birthmark is pretty conspicuous.
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  #24  
Old 06-29-2000, 02:26 PM
JavaMaven1 JavaMaven1 is offline
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Even though I do have to give a nod to the printing press, as it is very important, I have another thing that helped change the world...

Navigation/Map Making. Without it, the New World would never have been discovered. The Crusades would have never happened. The Romans would have stayed in Rome, just hanging out having orgies and banquets.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind going back to Roman times...
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  #25  
Old 06-29-2000, 02:39 PM
Lil' Kiffy Lil' Kiffy is offline
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Without a doubt, the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, otherwise we would all be speaking French.
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  #26  
Old 06-29-2000, 07:54 PM
vandal vandal is offline
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The fact that Lincoln was president during the American Civil War. I really believe that if he wasn't, we would've fell. The guy was a damn genius.
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  #27  
Old 06-30-2000, 08:42 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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I've posted it before elsewhere, and I'll post it again: The most influential event is when someone had the brilliant idea to hide Jesus' body.
What is Gutenburg best know for having printed?
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  #28  
Old 06-30-2000, 09:46 AM
Sledman Sledman is offline
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Dinsdale

A Bible or specifically the Gutenburg Bible.


While I have to disagree with the whole single event/cause idea, I would cast my vote in favor of either the harnessing of fire or the invention of the wheel.

Without fire you could not make your printing press. It is the catalyst to most of the changes we have seen throughout history. Bronze Age, Iron Age etc..


The usefulness of the wheel is self explanatory.
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  #29  
Old 07-01-2000, 06:13 PM
Koffing Koffing is offline
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That black monolith landing on Earth.

Okay, seriously, I'll have to go with the harnessing of fire. Modern technology pretty much hinges upon that.
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  #30  
Old 07-01-2000, 09:10 PM
Micro Furry Micro Furry is offline
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I feel the need to point out that the printing press existed in China for centuries before Gutenberg, ahem, "invented" it. At least that's what we were taught in Eastern Rel.
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  #31  
Old 07-01-2000, 09:23 PM
London_Calling London_Calling is offline
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No one's mentioned it so let me be wildly controversial: whoever came up with the crazy idea of The Wheel
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  #32  
Old 07-01-2000, 09:25 PM
London_Calling London_Calling is offline
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oops, sorry Sledman - 3.30 am and the bottle's empty.
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  #33  
Old 07-01-2000, 09:31 PM
Asmodeus Asmodeus is offline
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Not sure this is really an "event" as such. But the developement of language allowed people to understand each other. Instead of just grunting at each other.
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  #34  
Old 07-01-2000, 10:49 PM
Doug Bowe Doug Bowe is offline
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Jayron, Jayron, Jayron.
(kinda like Dr. Zorba saying "Ben Casey, Ben Casey, Ben Casey")
Ya really like Burke?
Then the invention of the printing press was the second most important thing that changed civilization.
Right after the plow.
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  #35  
Old 07-01-2000, 11:50 PM
Nilvedman Nilvedman is offline
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In Western history, at least, I would have to go with the schism between Catholicism and Protestantism. In addition to propagating the idea of individualism which dominates modern Western culture, it also got the Catholic Church to get its collective act together, making sure that it did not fall from importance as a political entity (see the big deal when the Pope goes to Cuba for example)
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  #36  
Old 07-02-2000, 06:38 PM
iampunha iampunha is offline
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How about a fellow who tried out for the Washington Senators way back about 40 years ago but didn't make the cut?

We know this man as Fidel Castro.

Also, what if Washington hadn't caught the Hessian mercenaries by surprise? This country might still be New England or whatever if not for that monumental rebel victory.
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  #37  
Old 07-02-2000, 07:28 PM
Show_Biz Show_Biz is offline
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The Louisana Purchase

We were lucky that Napoleon had wars to pay for, and was sure he couldn't hold conquered Spanish American territory.

Had he been less certain, or less needy, or less greedy, so much would have changed. Or if Jefferson had waited for longer formal congressonal debates.

That was one time the scales could easily have tipped on the basis of a single diplomatic gaffe.
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  #38  
Old 07-03-2000, 06:49 PM
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The victory of Alexander the Great over the Persians. This is the single event which ensured the ultimate ascendancy of Western culture. If the Persians had won, Greece would have been conquered and absorbed, there would have been no subsequent Roman Empire (with all of its myriad influences on Western civilization) and we might all be a part of some sort of Greater Iran today.
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  #39  
Old 07-03-2000, 07:03 PM
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15,000,000,000 B.C. (approx. date) -- The Big Bang misfires, the vaccuum fluctuation eats itself instead of expanding.
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  #40  
Old 07-03-2000, 07:16 PM
Ambumax Ambumax is offline
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Let me see...

Well...

There are so many positive events to choose from that it is very difficult to make a choice. However, I believe that I can make a choice on what the single event that has hindered the advancement of civilization...

The Birth of Aristotle

You heard me. Seriously, Aristotle was a great philosopher, and he deserved most of the respect that he got. Problem is he was too influential. Just think, if Aristotle hadn't come up with the notion of the perfect spheres of the cosmos, then Ptolemy and Brahe and a host of other astronomers wouldn't have spent so much time trying to prove him right.

As it stands, Aristotle was revered by many of the great minds that followed him. They thought that a man who was right about so many things could not be wrong about his system of celestial mechanics. Until Galileo and to a lesser extent Copernicus came along, all scientists worked with a improper cosmic model.

Aristotle's cosmology held back the advance of science by a thousand years.
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