10 Inventions That Changed the World


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Trivia refers to bits of information and data, often of little importance. The amount of trivia in existence is mind-boggling, so much so that game manufacturers have made an industry of it.

One of my mother’s favorite game shows was Jeopardy, with Alex Trebek, which was essentially trivia with rewards. When I was a teen in the 60s we used to watch it together, and when I’d come home from college as well. She used to say that I should be on the show, but my knowledge was limited in scope I thought. I used to say she should be on the show.

Both our brains must have been wired to maintain miscellaneous, often irrelevant facts. Interestingly, the show continues to air more than half a century later, and when I visit Mom we still watch it together sometimes.

I still enjoy trivia games now and then, and I also enjoy making them. One of the events of our annual Duluth Dylan Fest these past nine years has been a trivia night at Carmody’s Pub here. The past five or six years I’ve produced a 25 question Dylan Trivia contest. (If you’re ever in Duluth, Carmody’s has a trivia night every Sunday, so you don’t have to just come in May to play.)

A little while back I came across a website listing 101 Gadgets That Changed the World, just the kind of trivia I enjoy. I decided to choose ten items and make it a Trivia Test for readers who enjoy such things. It’s multiple choice, so you can guess. Answers at the end.

  1. What year was the Abacus, a Chinese calculating device, first documented?
    A) 100 BC . B) 190 AD . C) 450 AD . D) 1000 BC

2. What year did German chemist Felix Hoffman perfect and introduce what we now know as Aspirin?
A) 1765 . B) 1827 . C) 1899 . D) 1922

3. Barbed Wire, which is now seen as a symbol of oppression, was originally invented to keep cattle in their places. In what year did Joseph Glidden come up with a method for the mass manufacture of barbed wire?
A) 1873 . B) 1910 . C) 1844 . D)1899

4. Susan B Anthony said in an interview in 1896: “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” What year was the bicycle invented?
A) 1846 . B) 1855 . C) 1861 . D) 1879

5. Matthew Brady famously documented the Civil War with his camera equipment. What year did British polymath William Talbot invent the camera?
A) 1826 . B) 1837 . C) 1844 . D) 1851

6. The Nobel Prize is named for Alfred Nobel, who made a fortune with one of history’s most explosive products: dynamite. His younger sibling was the first death by dynamite in an experiment striving to stabilize nitroglycerin. What year did Alfred Nobel invent dynamite?
A) 1859 . B) 1899 . C) 1877 . D) 1867

7. Long before we were connected by wires, people invented things that only years later would be come into practical use. What year was the Fax machine invented?
A) 1901 . B) 1875 . C) 1821 . D) 1843

8. That a man named Crapper invented the flushing toilet is just an urban legend, or “fake news” in today’s parlance. The real inventor was Sir John Harrington. What year?
A) 1490 . B) 1597 . C) 1605 . D) 1689

9. Lead pencils were never made of lead, which is poisonous. Rather they were made of graphite, which was originally thought to be a form of lead. What year was this wooden writing tool created?
A) 1564 . B) 1628 . C) 1701 . D) 1757

10. Our tongues may generate words but they don’t have an eraser, so those tongues of ours can be a real problem. The first pencils didn’t have erasers either. When was the idea of the eraser dreamed up?
A) 1676 . B) 1720 . C) 1770 . D)1805


(1) B
(2) C
(3) A
(4) C
(5) A
(6) D
(7) D
(8) B
(9) A
(10) C

How did you do? If you got all ten, the leave a comment. Maybe you should be on Jeopardy.

Source: The Independent — 101 Gadgets That Changed the World

Related Link: A 2018 Dylan Trivia Questionnaire

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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