The Best Inventions of 2008

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They’re here.

I think this is the seventh year in a row that I’ve worked on this project. It’s the first year we actually ranked the inventions, 1 through 50, so now it’s … rankier. I also tried to push the selections a little bit away from an all-tech line-up this year, so we could talk about other kinds of innovation — you have your usual weird vehicles and fancy computers, but you also get things like the Global Seed Vault, and Dr. Horrible, and Obama’s merchandising strategy, and the newest Mersenne Prime. (That last one is more of a discovery than an invention, I know.) Oh, and the Vatican came up with some new Deadly Sins this year.

The overall effect we wanted to achieve was a kind of re-telling of the history of 2008, a counter-history, told through technological innovations and new ideas rather than through elections and stock market numbers and stuff. Also we wanted to run some pretty pictures and sell some ads.

Oh, and we picked an Invention of the Year. Not an easy thing this year — last year was a gimme, what with the iPhone and all, but this year: not obvious. So we went with the invention that we think will, down the line if not immediately, have the most massively transformative effect on the world. See what you think.