Top 10 Most Infamous Inventions

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If Necessity was the Mother of all inventions, then humans should seriously have checked its list of necessities, before making reckless inventions. It is really a pity that the demands of human greed have taken a heavy toll on humanity time and again. Science have given us a huge plethora of gifts which includes not only elements of comfort and luxury, but also a number of life-saving inventions, that have taken us out of the Stone-cold cave-dwelling life. But man did not miss his chances of twisting this same science to create things that threatens our very existence. Be it weapons of mass destruction or things that have done more harm than good, these inventions will always find themselves blacklisted in the history of science and technology.

10.  Zyklon B

zyklon b

Remember the Holocaust? Well, it is one of the darkest events in history, when around 1.2 million people, including about 960,000 Jews, were gassed to death in the concentration camps during the World War II. Zyklon B, also called Cyclone B, was the substance that the Nazis had used for this mass murder. Bruno Tesch, one of the inventors of Zyklon B, played a pivotal role in the misuse of this chemical during the World War II. It was originally invented as a cyanide-based pesticide and Zyklon A was used for pest control in agricultural fields and factories. Though the production of this pesticide has been stopped, it still remains as a weapon of mass murder.

9.  DDT


It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray…” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring.
The chemical was originally used as a means of pest control in agricultural fields and during World War II. Even today one can see men spraying the chemical in sewer pits and roadsides to control mosquitoes and flies. However, the chemical has extremely hazardous effects on the environment. It is proved to be carcinogenic and threatens small animals and birds. It is also quite toxic to humans and can lead to heart and lung disease. Better late than never, the ban on the agricultural use of DDT has saved quite a few species like the bald eagle and peregrine falcon from extinction.

 8.  CFC


Chlorofluorocarbons, commonly known as CFCs (Freon), are commonly used as refrigerants, propellants and solvents. The most important impact of this chemical is in the depletion of Ozone Layer. None of us are perhaps unaware of the importance of the ozone layer in protecting the earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the Sun. As more and more products are using Freon for various purposes, traces of ozone holes have been reported, mainly over the South Pole. It can not only unbalance the functioning of ecosystems, but enhanced ultraviolet radiations have increased the rate of skin cancer in various parts of the world. Thankfully, the Montreal Protocol has banned the use of the product, and various replacements for CFCs have already been found before further damage is incurred on the environment.

7.  Sarin Gas

sarin gas

Discovered by chance, this chemical was put to misuse by the Nazis as a chemical weapon. It has been used time and again by the military as a nerve gas for mass destruction of enemy territories, including the Halabja poison gas attack, Iran–Iraq War, and Syrian civil war. The gas causes massive nerve damage to those who come in contact with the gas and can eventually cause death due to paralysis of the lung muscles. The compound has been banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. However, we can never be too sure when man reintroduces it into the weapons race for the destruction of mankind.

6.  The Guillotine


You might actually have attended a Guillotine execution show if you were in France in the late 18th century. It was invented to make capital punishment less painful, as it involved swift decapitation of the criminal. It became famous during the French revolution, when history witnessed the most number of decapitations as punishment which was turned into a form of public entertainment. It was also used during the Algerian War for the execution of the prisoners. Hamida Djandoubi was the last person to be guillotined, after which capital punishment was discontinued and so the guillotine. It now adorns the museum and keeps the memory of the horrors of notorious human inventions afresh.

5. Dirty Bombs

dirty bomb

These bombs found a notorious way to make territories uninhabitable by radiological poisoning. Conventional explosives are mixed with radioactive materials to make dirty bombs, which uses the power of the explosion to spread radioactivity to a sub-lethal level. They are mainly used to create panic and economic disruption of territories, because people are quite aware of the effects of long-term exposure to radioactivity and would do anything to keep themselves away from it. They seem to have the same ecological hazards as a nuclear disaster like that of Chernobyl. These bombs are quite famous among terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda.

4. TNT


Though it might sound funny, Trinitrotoluene was originally in invented in 1863 by Julius Wilbrand as a yellow dye. Its explosive properties were realised much later and put to use not until the Nazis used them to fill artillery shells in 1902. Since then it has been one of the most common explosives found worldwide. TNT has toxic effects on the skin and can cause them to turn yellow in colour upon prolonged contact. It is also affects the human immune system, the liver and reproductive systems. To some extent it is believed to be carcinogenic.  TNT also contaminates the groundwater in placed where it has been used, thus degrading the environment. Though replaced by more efficient explosives, TNT still finds use in the military and construction companies.

3. Land Mines


Though the concept is believed to have originated in China, the modern landmines were developed by Nils Waltersen Aasen. Well, it does more damage when remains unused. These are bombs that are buried underground along the perimeter of a territory to prevent the enemies from trespassing around. Large minefields are generally laid during a warfare, most of which are not cleared after the war is over. They render the fields impassable and useless, almost permanently. Large number of minefields have not been recorded, making demining impossible and pose equal threat to soldiers and civilians alike. The stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines have been restricted by the Ottawa Treaty, and efforts are still on to free the lands of all existing land mines.

2. The Automatic Rifle

automatic rifles

Invented by Manuel Mondragón in 1882, this weapon gave a single soldier the power of an entire squad! It changed the way the World War I was fought. Soon it started a race between nations and each came up with their better models of the rifle. AK-47, designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, however remains the best till date. It is one of the most favoured among the terrorists due to its efficiency and easy handling. Perhaps it has done more damage to the society than any other small weapon could ever do.

1. The Atomic Bomb

atomic bomb

The “Little Boy” and the “Fat Man” have already shown the world the havoc that an atomic bomb can wreck upon the world. Developed as a part of the Manhattan Project during the World War II by the United States to combat the Nazis, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed hundreds of thousands of people and crippled many of the generations to come. The radiation from the bombs remain in the place and thus the effects can be long-term and even worse than death. Today, a large number of developing nations have developed their own nuclear powers. However, the possession and use of nuclear weapons have been restricted by the various peace making treaties. However, it remains the most deadly of inventions and possesses a constant threat to world peace.

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I am an Electronics Engineering student at NIT Durgapur.

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