What is “invention”? That is a question we tossed around tonight at a small get-together between friends. I can’t quite remember how we got into it, but a lot of the discussion centered around what invention means and how something can be considered to be an invention. By the end of the conversation we established that to be an invention, it would need to be more than just a progression of something else; a novel creation in other words.

For instance, a car is not an invention. A car is more the progression of the horse-drawn carriage. The engine, however, that can be considered an invention. Another item we talked about was the iPod, or more specifically, the MP3 player. Personally, I’m not of the opinion that the MP3 player is an invention. To me, something like the iPod is merely the next step after the Sony Walkman. Instead, I would consider the MP3 format to be an invention. The thing which I would most easily consider to be an invention is the television. Why? Because there was nothing before it that could transmit an image from one location to another for the purpose of information/entertainment dissemination. Yes, the radio may have come before the TV, but the radio is an entirely different medium.

So now I put it to you, what has been “invented” this millennium? Not what is a progression of something else, but truly created as something entirely novel. Or do you disagree? Is it even possible to “invent” something new given that anything that can be “invented” must use materials and knowledge that already exists?