Just in time for the time of year when every list is a best-of list, Time has published its selections for Best Inventions 2002. It’s quite a collection. Here’s a sample:
In 1997 a team of Japanese engineers dared to imagine a computer so powerful that it could keep track of everything in the world at once — steaming rain forests in Bolivia, factories in Mexico belching smoke, the jet stream, the Gulf Stream, the works. What’s more, they dared to build it. On March 11, 2002, when they turned it on, the engineers did something no mere mortal had ever done before: they created the Earth.
Date Rape Drug Spotter
Singles bars have never been risk free, but so-called date-rape drugs give you one more reason to be cautious. After a friend was attacked by a man who may have spiked her drink, Francisco Guerra developed a cardboard drink coaster that can identify two of the most popular date-rape drugs: gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine. Just place a drop of liquid on the coaster, and rub it in with your finger. If the spot turns blue, toss that cocktail. Fifteen million of these coasters have already been distributed; look for them at 7-Elevens around Christmastime.
Tired of having to wear a cell phone on your belt wherever you go? In the future, you may not have to. Two British researchers have developed a prototype “phone tooth” that can be embedded in a molar and receive cell-phone calls. The signals are translated into vibrations that travel from the tooth to your skull to your inner ear—where only you can hear them. Great for giving instructions to spies and NFL quarterbacks. Not so great for the rest of us, because while our teeth may talk to us, we can’t talk back to them.