Many of humanity’s extraordinary discoveries were initially underestimated. (Photo: Love Incorporated)
JAKARTA – Many of humanity’s extraordinary inventions were initially underestimated because they were considered funny and useless. But in fact, these discoveries ultimately succeeded in changing the world.
From time to time, scientists always innovate to find new tools that will help facilitate human activities. However, along the way, the research they carried out did not go easily. There are many challenges ranging from funding problems, applicable norms to products being underestimated.
The following is a series of extraordinary discoveries that were initially underestimated, quoted from Love Money, Thursday (21/9/2023).
When the fork was first discovered, no one knows. However, the fork was introduced to the Western world in the 10th century by the Byzantine princess, Theophano Skleraina, wife of the Roman Emperor Otto II. He was supported by another Byzantine princess, Maria Argyropoulaina, who married the son of the Doge of Venice in 1004.
The two princesses were teased for using this strange branch-shaped tool. Forks only started to become popular in the 16th century when they became fashionable in Venice, before spreading throughout Italy. However, the fork continued to be derided elsewhere in Europe and was only widely adopted in the late 18th century.
2. Printing Machine
Although woodblock printing appeared in China in the 7th century, the first printing press was not invented until around 1440 in Mainz, Germany by Johannes Gutenberg. This discovery changed humanity and ushered in the modern era. But like many revolutionary inventions, this tool has received a lot of criticism.
The German Benedictine abbot, Johannes Trithemius, thought printed materials would not last long and believed writings written on parchment were better suited to stand the test of time. Other critics complained that printed books would lead to everything from information overload to political chaos, and would make the monks of Europe lose influence, to the detriment of spiritual development.
Nowadays umbrellas are an important accessory in the rainy season. In fact, the first person in England to use an umbrella in the street, Jonas Hanway in the 1750s, was showered with insults, had rubbish thrown at him, and was almost run over and killed.
Imported from Persia via France, parasols were taboo for men to carry and were considered a sign of weak character and effeminacy. Hanway also drew the ire of horse-drawn carriage drivers who feared the accessory would steal their business. Stubborn, Hanway ignored the haters even when one of the train drivers tried to run him over. Within a few decades, the stigma attached to umbrellas disappeared and umbrellas are now widespread throughout the world.
In 1796, English country doctor Edward Jenner made a sensational medical breakthrough. He inoculated eight-year-old boys with cowpox to protect against the much more deadly cowpox after noticing milkmaids, who were routinely exposed to the more benign bovine pathogen, appeared immune to the deadly human disease. This experiment was a great success. Jenner coined the term vaccine from the Latin word ‘vacca’ meaning cow and published his findings in 1798.
Instead of being praised for his discovery, Jenner was reviled, especially by religious leaders, who were horrified that the doctor violated God’s will and used pus from sick animals to inoculate humans. The press also mocked Jenner as in a satirical cartoon by James Gillray, which showed vaccinated individuals growing grotesque cow heads. Slowly but surely, the disdain for Jenner’s discovery wore off and vaccinations eventually became commonplace.
The father of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first patent for the device in 1876. He is considered the first person to create a practical incarnation of the pioneering technology. But at first he was insulted. When Bell tried to sell its telecommunications business to Western Union, its president William Orton exclaimed, “what use are electric toys to this company?”
The predictions of Americans who predicted telephones would be present in every city were also met with cynicism. Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, believes that this technology will never become mainstream in the UK. “America needs phones, but we don’t. We have many delegates,” he said.
6. Electric light bulb
Thomas Edison patented the world’s first commercial electric light bulb in 1879. Despite its ingenuity, the technology received many critics, most notably Professor Henry Morton of the Stevens Institute of Technology. He criticized the discovery, calling it a failure.