Author Topic: "Man's greatest achievement"  (Read 12927 times)

Offline alexactor

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"Man's greatest achievement"
« on: 09/27/2009 02:47 AM »
Hi guys, new here. Nice to meet you.

I hear frequently about the moon landing and to a lesser degree spaceflight in general being man's greatest achievement. Considering the magnitude of such operations I would be inclined to agree, but isn't it also somewhat erroneous to say so? Our inventions on this planet keep getting "better" and more effective and more elaborate, so at what point do these "greatest" achievements become just another exercise in words? Was the invention of the wheel one of man's greatest achievements? Was it the invention of electricity? Was it the invention of the computer? And so on. When you think about it, lots of things become "one of the greatest achievements", and if these inventions keep being outdone (in 1969 man walked on the moon, and yet when/if it comes time to land on Mars, will this be old news? Consider how little we remember Gemini, and so on), how are we to mentally retain its freshness? I'm exaggerating a little bit, and this post may have been a little confusing, but the term one of our greatest achievements becomes a little bit blurred.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #1 on: 09/27/2009 03:23 AM »
Since "greatest" is entirely subjective in this context, there's no right or wrong answer.  Personally, I find the fact that the cold war ended without going hot to be a remarkable achievement.  I think modern inertial navigation units are pretty darned spiffy.  Multi-bit flash cells are kind of amazing.  In rocketry, the De Laval nozzle was (and is) pretty darned important.  One could go on and on.

Offline Nascent Ascent

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #2 on: 09/27/2009 03:35 AM »
Running water/indoor plumbing
“Why should we send people into space when we have kids in the U.S. that can’t read”. - Barack Obama

Offline alexactor

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #3 on: 09/27/2009 03:38 AM »
I'm just saying that people throw off those words without attaching any real meaning to them. Evolution of technology IS an incredible thing, and so is landing on the moon.

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #4 on: 09/27/2009 04:01 AM »
how are we to mentally retain its freshness? I'm exaggerating a little bit, and this post may have been a little confusing, but the term one of our greatest achievements becomes a little bit blurred.

There is no "retaining of freshness" in the category of that are mans greatest achievements.  We are lucky that besides the dark ages the progress of humanity has been a steady, almost exponential growth curve.

All that is impressive now, will be looked upon as simple and obvious later.
No Bucks no Buck Rogers, but at least Flexible path gets you Twiki.

Offline rdale

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #5 on: 09/27/2009 04:04 AM »
Was it the invention of electricity?

Hmmm... From what I learned in physics and the Bible - man did not invent electricity  ;D

Offline madscientist197

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #6 on: 09/27/2009 08:46 AM »
IMHO the development of nuclear weapons and the ensuing large scale world peace is man's greatest achievement. Look at India and Pakistan -- since they have both developed nuclear weapons neither side has dared start a war. IMHO there is no plausible rationale for any state to give them to terrorists, because there is no plausible deniability -- especially with the continuing development of techniques to identify the origin of weapons.

I am sure many people here will disagree -- this is a rather controversial choice. I hope this doesn't drag the thread off-course. If so, I apologise in advance.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2009 10:28 AM by madscientist197 »
John

Online Orbiter

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #7 on: 09/27/2009 02:13 PM »
Personally I agree with anyone that says the moon landing was man's greatest achievement, every technological advancement beforehand was a stepping stone to it, until we see a manned Mars landing then the moon landings become a stepping stone to that. Mankind MUST explore, and its the final frontier, space.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2009 04:16 PM by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.

Offline nacnud

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #8 on: 09/27/2009 02:18 PM »
Language, that even beats the discovery of tea IMHO ;)

Offline astrobrian

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #9 on: 09/27/2009 04:08 PM »
Mankind MUST explode,
I know you meant explore, but that is too good to pass up  8)

Online Orbiter

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #10 on: 09/27/2009 04:17 PM »
Mankind MUST explode,
I know you meant explore, but that is too good to pass up  8)

HAHAH! I forgot my morning coffee it seems!
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #11 on: 09/27/2009 05:35 PM »
Containers able to carry liquids such as water.

Offline ZANL188

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #12 on: 09/27/2009 05:42 PM »
I don't understand how one can compare one invention, say the wheel, to going to the moon and say one or the other is the greatest achievement of mankind.

Inventions tend to be accidental or other than the intended outcome.

Going to the moon, on the other hand, was quite intentional and used many "inventions" in its accomplishment.

Offline alexactor

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #13 on: 09/28/2009 12:20 AM »
I would say many inventions are intentional. Something may have been unintentional - that is the final, latest product to the point where the actual invention comes into place - but if you're striving toward it then it most certainly is intentional.

Offline HIPAR

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #14 on: 09/28/2009 12:57 AM »
Beethoven Number Nine for chorus and orchestra.

But since we here are more interested in maters scientific or technological, I'll submit my vote for Mendeleev's table, periodic table of the elements.  It became the bridge linking the chemical and atomic properties of the elements. 

---  CHAS

Offline Jorge

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #15 on: 09/28/2009 01:18 AM »
1) Hand tools
2) Fire
3) Cooking (consequence of 2, but not the reason for 2)
4) Spoken language
5) The wheel
6) Agriculture
7) Written language
JRF

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #16 on: 09/28/2009 01:29 AM »
I couldn't resist.  Man's greatest achievement?  Evolving from the primordial ooze.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #17 on: 09/28/2009 02:37 AM »
In the 19th century and the first half or so of the 20th century, people were conquering all sorts of frontiers... mapping out the entire world, traveling to the poles, climbing Everest, diving under the sea, reaching higher and higher altitudes. This used to be the measure of success. The pinnacle of this whole continuation of expansion of the sphere of human influence was the conquering of space led by the Russians at first and being crowned by the Apollo missions to the moon.

Since then, we've had a cultural shift. Instead of looking beyond the next horizon, we've been focused inward, whether through increasingly smaller machines and higher and higher workmanship in computers, or the ecological movement or the spiritual/sexual/social/pharmacological revolution, and now leading to greater and greater forms of control through the radio and television and now all the interconnection through the internet, etc. But this is not actually expanding the physical extent of the sphere of humanity. In that respect, we haven't gone further than Apollo.
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Offline kfsorensen

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #18 on: 09/28/2009 02:47 AM »
Last 100 years:

1) Haber-Bosch process for fixing atmospheric nitrogen (for fertilizer)
2) The transistor and the integrated circuit
3) Nuclear fission
4) Genetic sequencing and manipulation

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #19 on: 09/28/2009 03:04 AM »
This is man's greatest achievement, not man's greatest inventions. An achievement in this context is more like an event than a process.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Jorge

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #20 on: 09/28/2009 03:08 AM »
This is man's greatest achievement, not man's greatest inventions. An achievement in this context is more like an event than a process.

You are engaging in hair-splitting.
JRF

Offline Suzy

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #21 on: 09/28/2009 04:20 AM »
1) Hand tools
2) Fire
3) Cooking (consequence of 2, but not the reason for 2)
4) Spoken language
5) The wheel
6) Agriculture
7) Written language

Also:
8 ) Printing press
9) Electricity
10) Flight
11)The Internet!

These could also be classified as "most useful" achievements
« Last Edit: 09/28/2009 04:21 AM by Suzy »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #22 on: 09/28/2009 04:38 AM »
This is man's greatest achievement, not man's greatest inventions. An achievement in this context is more like an event than a process.

Oh well that makes it easier ;)

League Cup, Second Round. 20th September 1995 - Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester.

Manchester United 0-3 York City.


Yes, this is a rather strange thread, and of course it's the moon landings - with the above second ;)

Offline kfsorensen

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #23 on: 09/28/2009 04:43 AM »
This is man's greatest achievement, not man's greatest inventions. An achievement in this context is more like an event than a process.

OK, in that case: keeping billions of human beings fed, protected, safe, and prosperous with a fairly low level of conflict and destruction and premature death.

I'll be happy to compare our species to any other on earth in that regard.

Offline Craig R.

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #24 on: 09/28/2009 04:57 AM »
Probably either entering space, walking on the moon or Hubble. Hell maybe even the whole communication infrastructure we've built, first with the telegraph and later with the internet.

Offline Craig R.

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #25 on: 09/28/2009 05:02 AM »
Beethoven Number Nine for chorus and orchestra.

But since we here are more interested in maters scientific or technological, I'll submit my vote for Mendeleev's table, periodic table of the elements.  It became the bridge linking the chemical and atomic properties of the elements. 

---  CHAS
I have a professor who calls the periodic table the 8th wonder (that is if there are seven wonders, I forget).

Offline savuporo

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #26 on: 09/28/2009 05:43 AM »
Mans greatest achievement ? Having learned to live alongside with women. Sort of.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #27 on: 09/28/2009 12:14 PM »
Man smart, Woman smarter.

Also, the Internet is basically Gutenberg on steroids.  Worse than that; with all the computer icons, it's Egyptian heiroglyphs on steroids.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #28 on: 09/28/2009 05:14 PM »
As far as inventions go, I'd have to put verbal language above fire, and written language above fire, as well. Written language is what allows knowledge to accumulate, without it, we have to reinvent everything every generation. In that respect, it's more important than fire. But otherwise, fire is the most important invention, or perhaps clothing (which allows us to live outside of Africa). Then agriculture/domestication, then the wheel. Sailing technology is pretty important, too, for it enables traveling all across the globe with relative ease and has really shaped the world.


But these are all inventions. Landing on the moon is clearly not an invention. The Saturn V rocket is an invention of sorts (more like a conglomeration of countless inventions), as is the computer. Computer technology, rocket technology, communication technology, life-support technology, material sciences, organizational and political organizations, broad cooperation among hundreds of thousands of people focused on one task is what made the Apollo landings possible. The Apollo landings are more like the construction of the pyramids or Stonehenge than the design of a light bulb.
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Offline grakenverb

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #29 on: 09/28/2009 05:25 PM »
Running water/indoor plumbing

Something one of my high school history teachers said seemed amazing to me...

"After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was almost two thousand years until indoor plumbing, tied into a sewer system, came back into use."

I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future, but perhaps we will all be crapping in the woods and wearing potato sacks in the next hundred years or so.

Offline kfsorensen

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #30 on: 09/28/2009 05:27 PM »
I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future, but perhaps we will all be crapping in the woods and wearing potato sacks in the next hundred years or so.

We probably will be unless we get nuclear fission developed as a widespread energy source.

Offline grakenverb

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #31 on: 09/28/2009 05:32 PM »
I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future, but perhaps we will all be crapping in the woods and wearing potato sacks in the next hundred years or so.

We probably will be unless we get nuclear fission developed as a widespread energy source.

That would, in my humble opinion, truly be "Man's greatest achievement"!

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #32 on: 09/28/2009 05:44 PM »
Yeah, at that point, we are no longer limited by our sun. We could live anywhere in the solar system.

This weekend I went to a hydroponics supply store. It was really cool, for they had these enclosed greenhouse-things, except they had reflective walls instead of clear ones and were designed to be sealed off and filled with carbon dioxide, being cooled with water from a chiller, and lit by bright metal-halide lamps. It was like NASA sort of stuff (they even had aeroponics displays), except people do it to grow blueberries in the winter time in Minnesota (fresh blueberries in the wintertime are like gold). It's actually a quite profitable endeavor, I guess. Very fascinating. But, you might as well be on Mars... This is evidence I see that people will actually grow plants on Mars quite soon, since we do it here on Earth already for a profit in almost identical conditions (i.e. controlled, sealed environment with high levels of CO2 and artificial lights... aeroponics, which gives you the fastest growing and also happens to be very lightweight).

Anyways, this whole endeavor is mostly powered by coal, since coal provides most of our electricity. It is partly powered by nuclear in our state, so in some ways we already are independent of the sun... Totally weird, though. Widespread, safe, and cheap nuclear power would be probably one of the greatest accomplishments in history.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #33 on: 09/28/2009 06:00 PM »
I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future
Havent people noticed that Star Trek is actually a socialist utopia ? Do we really want that ?
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #34 on: 09/28/2009 06:24 PM »
I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future
Havent people noticed that Star Trek is actually a socialist utopia ? Do we really want that ?

If such a utopia is possible, and I still get to explore, then yes, I do. I think the big problem is that some of the most extreme socialist states have ended up being gruesome prisons for the citizens. This is why Americans (like myself) don't trust socialism, in spite of its laudable goals of ending poverty, etc. But if all the promises of socialism came true, then it would be a pleasant utopia, and... mankind's greatest achievement. ;)

But, on some level, a strong central government is needed for building pyramids or doing Apollo, until the citizens have the resources to do it themselves.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline grakenverb

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #35 on: 09/28/2009 06:37 PM »
I like to think that humankind is on a relentless march to a "Star Trek" type future
Havent people noticed that Star Trek is actually a socialist utopia ? Do we really want that ?


I didn't mean the political aspects of a "Star Trek" future, just the technology and the fact that people wouldn't be living in caves.  Perhaps once our grandchildren have paid off all of the bills that our current politicians have laid at their feet they can get to work
.

 My Trekkie brother just informed me that there was indeed a massive third world war between now and the 23rd(?) century, and that  society had to be rebuilt. So perhaps it is only 2 centuries of no indoor plumbing, not 2000 years!
« Last Edit: 09/28/2009 07:10 PM by grakenverb »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #36 on: 09/28/2009 06:49 PM »
Yeah, in the Trek universe, there's a nuclear war that all but annihilates humanity, then the inventor of the warp drive uses a converted ICBM to get his warp-drive craft into space. Sounds realistic enough, since that's kind of what the Soviets have been using (Sputnik and Soyuz use the world's first ICBM to get into space, plus some tweaks and an extra stage or so).
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #37 on: 09/28/2009 07:53 PM »

This weekend I went to a hydroponics supply store. It was really cool, for they had these enclosed greenhouse-things, except they had reflective walls instead of clear ones and were designed to be sealed off and filled with carbon dioxide, being cooled with water from a chiller, and lit by bright metal-halide lamps. It was like NASA sort of stuff (they even had aeroponics displays), except people do it to grow blueberries in the winter time in Minnesota (fresh blueberries in the wintertime are like gold). It's actually a quite profitable endeavor, I guess.

Blue berries, is that what they call it now? The chiller is to draw out the waste heat from that metal-halide bulb, the reflective surface makes sense, that way you are not wasting all the light that does not hit the plant. You also might want to try some Christmas tinsel around the base of your "blue berries". Btw. you can greatly reduce your energy footprint (which will be huge) by using tuned (Red/Blue) LED's instead of that metal halide bulb. If you look at the manufacturing spec's, they claim a factor of 100x lower energy use since you are efficiently generating only the wavelengths the plants need to grow. So did they have humidity controls on the boxes? Soil warmers... There's a guy out in NY who has come up with a heated flower pot for tropicals (Orchids, Miracle Fruit, Citris, ect) that is way cool.

You might want to google LED's and growing rice for Saki. Was one of those this is so cool things in japan a few years back.

I suspect if we ever grow crops in space it might be something similar. If you have a set of garden modules on mars, could it just be inflatable heavy plastic tubes with LED lamps hanging inside?


....Oh and man's greatest achievement, remembering to leave the lid down on the toilet at night.
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Offline robertross

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Re: "Man's greatest achievement"
« Reply #38 on: 09/28/2009 08:14 PM »
IMO, we haven't acheived it yet: To not kill one another.

Or how about this one: immortality.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

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