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, Victoria, in the 1850s by James Harrison. His patented ether liquid-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.
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.
1990s: Spray-on skin
Plastic surgeon Dr Fiona Wood was frustrated at treating burns victims; the faster they can be treated the less chance of scarring – but sheets of skin tissue take 14-21 days to grow. 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.
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.