Which 3 inventions are the most significant in defining and structuring our world? Here’s my list, what’s yours?

  1. Heat Engine. All kinds of engines that convert heat, from combustion or other sources (nuclear, solar, geothermal, etc.) into mechanical energy. The gas or diesel  engine in your car, the turbine of a jet plane, steam turbines driven by heat from combustion or nuclear reactions spinning generators – this is the way most power plants work.
  2. Modern Agriculture. This lets a small percentage of the population produce enough food for everyone. Modern agriculture is based on heat engine driven machinery and the “green revolution” of fertilizers and pesticides. Absent this, most humans would be employed in subsistence agriculture as we were before the industrial revolution (mid 1700’s).
  3. Electronics, including computers and telecommunications. If you’re reading this …

Most of this is floating on a sea of fossil fuels, primarily oil. What if the peak oil theory is correct?