Five Indian Inventions that Have Changed the World

ABSTRACT: Over the millennia, people living in India have made a number of important discoveries that have helped to shape modern society.

The Taj Mahal (1)
India was home to one of the earliest human civilizations. The first urbanized settlements developed along the Indus River in parts of India and Pakistan as far back as 3000 B.C. A number of prominent Indian civilizations have risen (and fallen) since that time. Over the millennia, people living in these advanced societies have made several important discoveries that have changed the world.

Here are five Indian inventions or discoveries which have helped to shape modern culture.

The Concept of Zero

The Babylonians were the first people to use zero, as a numerical placeholder. However, scholars in India should get credit for realizing that zero did more than just differentiate 60 from 600. Around the fifth century A.D., they developed the concept of zero as a standalone number. Their achievement has had a significant impact on the field of mathematics. Interestingly enough, the Mayans might have been the first group to fully explicate the properties of zero. However, the Mayans had no way of transmitting this information to Europe and Asia until at least the 1500s.

The Cultivation of Cotton

Contemporary societies use cotton in a variety of items, including clothes, bedspreads, and napkins. Attesting to cotton's importance to modern economies, worldwide production of the fiber is expected to reach 24.9 million tons during the 2012-2013 season. The cotton industry owes a debt of gratitude to India. People living in the country were one the first groups to cultivate cotton. They discovered how to farm the crop sometime during the third millennium B.C.

The Invention of the Radio

A majority of people alive today probably do not remember a time when radios were scarce. They use radios located in their cars, homes, and offices to tune into news programs, to listen to music, and to communicate with each other. However, the radio is a relatively new invention. It did not appear on the scene until the late 1800s. A number of individuals played a role in helping to create this device. Many people might be surprised to learn than one of the key developers of the radio lived in India.
An Indian, Jagadis Chandra Bose, played an important role in helping to invent the radio. In 1896 Bose became one of the first people to demonstrate that radio waves could be transmitted over long distances. Some scholars argue that he was the first person to achieve this feat. Bose also played a key role in developing the crystals used to detect radio waves.

The Invention of the Crucible Technique for Steelmaking

Craftspeople living in India were the first individuals to use crucibles in the steelmaking process. They hit upon this technique "as early as the third century B.C." The crucible method represented a notable advance in the forging of steel products. It allowed Indian smiths to create weapons and tools that had sharper edges and were more durable than their predecessors.

The First Game of Chess

Chess is a very popular board game. Hundreds of millions of men and women around the world play the game. Millions (and maybe billions) more people have heard of it. Many scholars believe that someone living in India invented the earliest version of chess-perhaps as long ago as the third century B.C.

1. Author: Phil Servedio
    Date: December 29, 2004
    Title/Description: The Taj Mahal
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - The author places the photo in the public domain, per his
    notes (click on the title/link for photo, credits, permissions).

The author is a freelance writer and has a B.A. in History from Roanoke College.

-- Anthony Hopper

#India #technology #inventions #radio #discovery #math

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