We human beings tend to forget how far we've come as a species in a relatively short period of time.
In the 1870's, we had the first house that was lighted with electricity. Cars just started to become available 100 years ago. Charles Lindbergh made the first transatlantic flight in 1927. Televisions didn't become widely available until after WWII. In other words, the advances humankind has made in a relatively short period of time -- thanks to men like Edison, Bell, Tesla, Einstein, Franklin, Salk, and the Wright Brothers -- have been nothing short of extraordinary.
Perhaps just as extraordinary is how we tend to simply adapt to these incredible changes, not realizing how completely our world has been altered in a short amount of time. With that in mind, it seems worth looking back at some of the amazing scientific advances we've made in the last few decades.
7) Cell phones: Phones have been around since the late 1800s, but cell phones only started to become widely available in the seventies. Today, by some estimates, more than 90% of Americans and more than 4.6 billion people worldwide have mobile phones. Anything that useful, that spreads that fast, has to be considered one of the greatest inventions of all time. Of course, it has also made it possible for jerks to talk on the phone in the movie theater, but every leap forward has a price.
6) The Artificial Heart: There is nothing that piques the interest of a human being quite as much as living a longer life. Implanting a person with an artificial heart in 1982 was an extraordinary step towards increasing the human lifespan, even if the initial patient lived for only 112 days. One day, more advanced versions of artificial organs will likely allow us to live much longer, more productive lives. When we get there, we'll owe a lot to Robert Jarvik's artificial heart. It also opens up the possibility that we might be able, for the first time, to provide union bosses across the country with an organ that they’ve been missing all their lives.
5) The Personal Computer: Today, we take for granted that we have one machine that allows us to access the Internet, do word processing, use a calculator, watch TV, and play games. But, the personal computer only became widely available to consumers in 1974. Things really took off when Microsoft Windows became available in 1985 and it's good that it did; without the prevalence of personal computers, the Internet wouldn't have had nearly as big an impact. We’d also have been denied all those smug Apple commercials, which would be a terrible tragedy for people who absolutely love condescension.