Win a SCIENCE mega-book, part 4

Another day, another beautifully-illustrated definitive guide to SCIENCE to be won!

With the contest in its fourth day, I have only two more of these huge books to win. They're worth a princely £30 each, and were edited by the venerable Adam Hart-Davis. SCIENCE: THE DEFINITIVE VISUAL GUIDE is a great tome of wonder and intrigue, with some great photographs and imagery that I've never seen before. Truly, the art editor was top notch. Here's one example:


We had many wonderful suggestions yesterday on what was the world's best-ever invention, from transistors to tools to light itself. Which leads me to ask today's COMPETITION QUESTION:

Is there a scientific invention that should have never been created? If so, what is it?

The Bomb? Eugenics? Barbed wire?

PS - for those who think there is merit in every invention, I direct you to SciencePunk's 5 stupid weapons that were actually made

EDIT: Competition closed, please keep your eyes peeled for the next and FINAL chance to win!

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I seem to often find myself wishing guns were never invented, or at least not sold to the general public. So much unnecessary death. Kevlar is good, though.

The microwave (or at least the kitchen variety, I'm sure they have other uses for which they are better suited)

Faster isn't always better, and this is undoubtedly true with food. Vaguely handy for reheating things but if it got rid of ready meals I'd take that trade.

Well, first thoughts were fee-for-service healthcare and Times New Roman font, but those are only vaguely scientific (count them if you will).

A more appropriate, I think, target would be the Marshalle & Kooi method for synthesizing (and subsequent industrialization by the Japanese) of high fructose corn syrup: probably a major contributor to any number of modern health woes, from obesity and diabetes to the ever-increasing variety of fake, industrial food which even if it's not actually more fattening, is certainly undermining the social bonds of cooking and eating.

I'm going to have to say tha digital photography, or at least photoshop, should never have been created. Why? Well, this goes back to my earlier opinion that the scientific method is the most important scientific invention. Digital photography has all but erased the most basic form of evidence. We can never again trust a photograph as proof of anything. Plus, even if it were never invented, we'd still have traditional photography, so it wouldn't actually *hurt* anything to get rid of it...just make it more expensive and time consuming. :D

By Lorien Stone (not verified) on 15 Oct 2009 #permalink

Religion. Hands down the worst thing ever invented. It's the cause of most wars, in my opinion, and I'd like to see it go away in the next century.

Dippin' Dots...the ice cream of the future!

Though it's not so much as a singular invention as it is a thought and a drive behind many things invented. But it's this concept of getting things done faster. Things invented to make people work as little as possible.

Apart from the obvious aspect that when things are accomplished quicker, many people use the freed up time to be lazy, there are many reasons things invented for convenience cause problems. Do not get me wrong, I am not against freeing up time to accomplish other tasks, and I understand that when something is invented for convenience it is to aid us, not enable us to be lazy. But when convenient inventions are created, people tend to get the idea "WOW! I'll be able to finish this job in half the time!", instead what ends up happening is the person ends up processing twice as much. The problem with this is that in many work scenarios, the stress level remains the same per thing accomplished, so in much of jobs, people are getting things finished quicker, but being hit by a much higher stress level.
For example take this small hypothetical business: they produce Product A. In any given day this small business produces 12 items of Product A. One day an invention is marketed that allows Product A to be produced twice as fast. Now our small business must create 24 items of Product A (because the public saw news about the invention and know that it can be manufactured more easily). While more of Product A seems good, but now the small business must keep track of twice as many orders. And the supply and demand (again due to the public knowledge of new invention) seems to suggest that the small business would still make about the same amount of money despite the increased work flow.

I do realize that many things that are used for convenience, i.e. computers, give way to other inventions, i.e. computer mapped laser metal cutter, to accomplish a task that no human could perform so well. So I'm not even sure where I stand on my own answer.

Anyways, I'm not a fan of people being lazy, nor stress levels being high.

This one had me stumped. It still does, but my vote goes to the "science" that made gas chambers more "efficient" for the Holocaust...

The car.


I was going to take this more seriously, but I am currently trying to remove some from a finger after gluing myself to the desk while trying to fix a broken backpack buckle.

By ABradford (not verified) on 16 Oct 2009 #permalink

the telephone voice response system should never have been invented. press 3 if you want to know why i think so.

I'm glad to see that there are less inventions people want to ban than things people really like, and I although I have to agree vehemently with both the microwave oven and automated telephone systems, the winner as randomly chosen by is:


#11 robaker for "the car" Succinct and successful.

Congratulations robaker, please email your delivery details to to claim your prize!

Before the dawn of the scientific age men still strove to control nature. Its power to seemingly spontaneously create life vexed man greatly when they were working far from home. In honour of such men, and their pitiful limitations, I humble suggest that the Chastity Belt should never have been invented.

The land mine.