Ten Inventions

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

In other words, innovation costs a lot of time and money. To incentivize enduring the costs of innovation, innovators may protect their inventions with patents, excluding other individuals from using their innovations for a temporary amount of time, and ultimately allowing innovators to recoup their investment costs and continue to innovate.

But what is "innovative"? And do our everyday perceptions of innovation differ from what is legally patentable? To start this conversation off, I am going to discuss ten inventions that I believe are indeed innovative and have had a significant impact on the world (in no particular order)

  1. Satellite - Weather and navigation satellites provide useful information to many daily. Imagine trying to get around Berkeley/SF without a GPS-based app of some sort. 
  2. Battery - Mobile devices let us to be productive, communicate, and procrastinate like never before. Batteries are essential to many of these devices.
  3. Lightbulb - Lightbulbs allow us to work and function regardless of the time of day/location.   
  4. Internet - The internet has increased access to information, as well as provided the foundation for connecting individuals in novel ways (via e-mail, instant messaging and social media). 
  5. Airplane -  Airplanes allow us to to travel internationally with relative ease, facilitating collaboration, cultural awareness, and social solidarity. 
  6. Computer - Computers have accelerated our data processing power, allowing us to automate multiple tasks, and really push forward our productivity and research capabilities. 
  7. Vaccines - Not only have vaccines deterred the spread of various diseases, but they have also introduced the field of preventative medicine which is a pretty awesome and cost-efficient approach to healthcare. In several cases preventing a disease can be a lot cheaper than treating one. 
  8. Antibiotics - Antibiotics are integral to treating infectious disease, as well as carrying out molecular biology research (e.g. using microorganisms to create gene constructs). For instance, several labs use ampicillin and/or kanamycin to grow bacteria with DNA that will later be harvested for experiments.
  9. Anesthesia - Anesthesia has allowed for the ease and feasibility of life saving surgical procedures. Imagine a world where even the more basic procedures, like wisdom teeth removal or cavity fillings, had to be done without anesthetics. Ouch. 
  10. Menstrual Pad/Tampons/Cups - Women spend upwards of hundreds of dollars a year on feminine hygiene products. I think these numbers speak for themselves.
Are these inventions patentable? Are the inventions that you think have significantly impacted the world patentable? If not, why, and what can we do to compensate?

    The internet + my computer reminding me to be productive via Momentum.

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    1. Hi Umeet! I like that you included anesthesia, as that is definitely an important invention that I never considered until now. It has made basic procedures pretty much painless and made severe surgeries achievable. I know I wouldn't want to try to hold still while someone was operating on me.

      Looking forward to your other posts!

    2. Hi Umeet! Your blog post was truly enjoyable to read. I really appreciate how you not only talked about each invention in depth but also how you added your own unique voice and asked questions at the end to get the readers' minds churning as well. Finally, I admire that you included the sanitary pads because something that is so important to women's daily lives and plays a huge part in promoting gender equality. Overall, wonderful read and I look forward to your future blog posts!