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Thread: Australian inventions that changed the world

  1. #1

    Australian inventions that changed the world

    Australian inventions that changed the world

    1854: The Fridge

    There's one in nearly every kitchen, at least in the western world, but the ubiquitous fridge was originally conceived in Geelong in the 1850s by one James Harrison. His patented ether vapour-compression system, whereby gas was passed through a compressor to be cooled and liquefied, and then circulated through refrigeration coils, is still the most widely used refrigeration system today not just in fridges, but air conditioners in homes and offices around the world.

    1874: Underwater torpedo

    Melbourne watchmaker and mechanical engineer Louis Brennan invented the underwater torpedo at just 22 years of age. The torpedo had two propellers, driven by two counter-rotating screws that were in turn driven by the unwinding motion of two fine wires. The torpedo was also steered by these wires, which connected back to a steam engine for on-shore or shipboard operation.

    1889: Electric drill

    Melbourne City Council's first electrical engineer, Arthur James Arnot, patented the world's first electric drill in 1889. It wasn't the nifty handyman-sized version shown above, though; Arnot's drill was designed primarily for excavating oil and coal

    1894: Powered flight

    After discovering that curved surfaces are more aerodynamic than flat ones, Lawrence Hargrave invented the box kite, the cellular construction of which was more stable than the previous monoplanes. On 12 November, 1894, he strapped four box kites together with a compressed air engine, also of his own invention, tethered it to the ground with piano wire and managed to fly the short five metres that changed aviation history.

    1902: Notepad

    You know those ideas that seem small but, when you think about it, had enormous repercussions? A J.A. Birchall of Tasmanian stationery company Birchall was the first person to take loose sheets of paper, cut them in half, back them with cardboard and glue the top edge. He sold them as the Silvercity Writing Tablets, and the idea went on to give rise to none other than the humble paperback book binding, enabling the booming new genre of pulp novels

    1906: Feature film

    The first ever full feature-length film was made by Australians and shot and shown in Australia. The Story of the Kelly Gang was written and directed by Charles Tait, and co-starred his wife, children and brothers. It ran to just over 60 minutes, and cost only 1000 to make. It was deemed a commercial success, bringing in around 25,000 to its four producers.

    1906: Surf life-saving reel 1912: Surf ski 1927: Speedos

    Australia has a beach culture like no other country, so it's unsurprising that many of our innovations revolve around it. On 23 December 1906, surfer Lester Ormsby demonstrated the reel, to which a rescuer could be harnessed in order to battle dangerous surf more safely.

    In 1912, Jack and Harry McLaren invented the surf-ski, a kind of lightweight, one-man kayak for quickly and efficiently navigating the surf.

    And in 1927, Australian underwear manufacturer Speedo introduced its first line of racing swimwear declared somewhat racy at the time, but positively tame compared to the budgie smugglers that would come later.

    And one of the first people rescued using the surf life-saving reel was a nine-year-old boy on 2 January 1907. Later on, he himself would become one of the leading pioneers in the field of aviation. His name was Charles Kingsford-Smith.

    1911: Tank

    In 1911, Adelaide-born Lancelot Eldin de Mole was struck with the idea for an armoured vehicle that ran on treads. He sent sketches and descriptions of his design to the British War Office … only to be informed in June 1913 that his idea had been rejected. When in 1916 an inferior (in de Mole's opinion) tank was introduced, the engineer realised he had been passed over. A British royal commission later said de Mole's design "had made and reduced to practical shape, as far back as the year 1912, a brilliant invention which anticipated, and in some respects surpassed, that actually put into use in the year 1916", but he was never formally acknowledged as the tank's inventor.

    1911: Rotary clothes hoist 1948: Hills hoist

    Everyone thinks of the Hills hoist when they think of the Australian rotary clothes hoist, but the first rotary hoist was actually patented by Melbourne resident Gilbert Toyne in 1911; he was to patent three more designs by 1926. It was his all-metal clothes hoist with an enclosed wheel-and-pinion winding mechanism that formed the basis for other designs including that of Lance Hill, who patented the exact same design in 1948, after Toyne's patent had expired.

    1943: Splayd

    At first glance, there appears to be little difference between a Splayd and a spork. Look a little closer and you'll see that the Splayd's sides have been straightened, making a better edge for cutting soft foods. Legend has it that inventor William McArthur was inspired to create a single, easy-to-use eating utensil after seeing a photograph of ladies a party awkwardly trying to juggle their meals and cutlery. All right, so it's no atomic absorption spectrophotometer, but it does cut down on dishes

    1952: Atomic absorption spectrophotometer

    Sir Alan Walsh and his team at the CSIRO Division of Chemical Physics were responsible for the creation of the atomic absorption spectrophotometer in the 1950s. It analyses samples by examining how they absorb light when in gas form, to determine how much metal is present in said sample. It is generally used to test the metal levels in water and soil samples.

    1958: Black box flight recorder

    Everyone knows about black box flight recorders, an audio recorder in a super-strong casing that records the conversation of the pilots in a plane's cockpit. If the plane comes down, salvage teams can listen to the recording to find out what went awry, and apply prevention measures if possible. It was invented by chemist Dave Warren, who one day thought to himself, "What if the pilots could tell us themselves?" His device is now installed in every commercial plane in the world. Oh, and is actually orange. Not black.

    1960: Plastic spectacle lenses

    In the 1950s, an Adelaide company began experimenting with thermosetting plastic resin, which could set into an accurate shape, and how to cure it to make it scratch-proof. The resulting lenses were safer, 60 per cent lighter, and less expensive to produce than glass lenses.

    1961: Ultrasound

    The first ultrasound scanner was built in 1961 at the ultrasonics institute of the Department of Health by George Kossof and David Robinson. The ulstrasound scanner uses sounds beyond the range of human hearing to take an image using echolocation; that is, how the sound bounces off an object reveals that objects shape and location. It has become an indispensible medical tool

    1970s: Permaculture

    Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, later to become known as the fathers of permaculture, rigorously worked to develop a sustainable method of farming. Modelled on the relationships and patterns found in natural ecologies, the purpose of permaculture is a sustainable and harmonious use of land and resources, putting back what you take out. The end result is a higher level of self sustainability within communities, lessening the reliance on industrialisation.

    1979: Digital sampler

    Yes, folks. If you are one of those people who hates electronica, you have only Australia to blame. Actually, technically, you have Fairlight's Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, who created the first-ever synthesiser, the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument digital sampler. These babies retailed for 18,000 a pop, which practically guaranteed it was going to show up on musical stages all around the world. Among the first buyers were Peter Gabriel, Iva Davies and Kate Bush.

    1978: Bionic ear

    Otherwise known as the hearing aid, the bionic ear or cochlear implant is a small device fitted into the ear to amplify sound for the hard of hearing. Development began under Professor Graeme Clark at the University of Melbourne in 1970, and the first patient was fitted in 1978. The hearing aid uses an external microphone, speech processor and transmitter, which transmits the sound to a receiver inside the ear. This receiver then coverts the signals into electricity and sends them to electrodes attached to the cochlea to be sent to the brain through the auditory nerve system.

    1984: Baby safety capsule

    New laws in the 1970s made seatbelts compulsory in Australia, but, while this protected adults to an extent, infants were still at high risk. The makers of the Safe-n-Sound Child restraint, Rainsfords, came up with the Baby Safety Capsule, in which a baby can be safely cradled in a secure bassinette. A bubble of air between the bassinette and its base creates a cushion of air, and a release mechanism allows the bassinette to rotate in the event of a crash.

    1990s: Spray-on skin

    Plastic surgeon Dr Fiona Wood was frustrated treating burns victims; the faster they can be treated, the less the chance of scarring but sheets of skin tissue take 14-21 days to grow. Dr Wood also noticed that skin sheets with holes healed faster than the sheets that had more fully meshed, and so she conceived the idea of a skin spray. Made from the patient's own skin cells, the spray was used to impressive effect after the Bali bombings, but clinical trials are ongoing.

    1992: Wi-fi

    It's hotly contested where Wi-Fi got its beginnings, but one thing is certain: Australia's CSIRO holds the patent and in the last couple of years has won court cases over the dispute. Researcher John O'Sullivan, recipient of the Prime Minister's Prize for Science in 2009, actually claims to have come up with the basis for Wi-Fi in 1977 while searching for exploding black holes. O'Sullivan's technology cleans up radiowaves and is included in the patents for 802.11a, 802.11g and 802.11n.

    1996: Anti-flu medication

    Relenza, an inhalant flu medication, is made using Zanamivir, a drug discovered and developed by a team of scientists led by Mark von Itzstein at the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University. Zanamivir works by blocking the flu virus inside its host cell, so that it is unable to escape and infect other cells.

    2004: Stop Shot blast glass

    Stop Shot, by Sydney inventor Peter Stephinson, is different from ballistic-resistant glass that came before; it's not just one sheet of very thick glass. Stephinson, who worked in window-tinting, noticed that tinted glass was harder to break, and devised a strengthening polymer to lay over glass. This polymer, according to Stephinson, significantly raises the tensile strength of glass. Additionally, two sheets of the polymer-treated glass are placed in a frame, leaving a pocket of air between the layers for shockwave absorption. The result is a window that can withstand bullets and the blast of a five-tonne bomb without falling out of the frame. Stephinson's customers include most of Australia's banks, the NSW police, the Australian Defence Force, Qantas and various government departments.

    2003: Google Maps

    Google Maps actually began as a C++ program designed at Sydney-based Where 2 Technologies. The project was the brainchild of two brothers, Lars and Jens Rasmussen, who originally intended the product as a downloadable app. However, when the company needed venture capital, they pitched the program to Google as a web-based application. Google bought Where 2 Technologies in 2004, and Google Maps was announced in 2005.

    HPY16 Vaccine

    The development of the HPV16 vaccine, Gardasil, which aims to ultimately prevent cervical cancer in women by targeting the associated human papilloma virus, is hotly contested. One thing is for certain, though, and that is that several different groups were absolutely instrumental in Gardasil's creation. Professor Ian Frazer and his colleague, the late Dr Jian Zhou, started their work on the vaccine at the University of Queensland in 1991. While other research facilities also made contributions and contested the patent, Professor Frazer was awarded global rights to the fundamental science in 2007

  2. #2
    Moderator FunnyWheels's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Tampa, FL

    Re: Australian inventions that changed the world

    Now made by the Chinese.
    If you're not confused, you're not paying attention.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Australian inventions that changed the world

    proud to be australian haha

  4. #4

    Re: Australian inventions that changed the world

    Quote Originally Posted by FunnyWheels
    Now made by the Chinese.

    Dave so true mate, seems the west want to be paid High Wages for doing sweet hump all so all the companies head to China, for low wages and high profits >

  5. #5
    Senior Member dman1409's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Re: Australian inventions that changed the world

    (Appart from them being Australian) Another fascinating thing is how inventions are being mass adopted these days! See these cuves..

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