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Imagine a world without pavement, paper or the pill

Published June 13, 2013 3:38 pm

Multimedia exhibit • "101 Inventions That Changed the World" opens today at The Leonardo.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What are the 101 inventions that changed the world?

Fire. Birth-control pills. Cellular phones. Light bulbs. Television. LEGO.

LEGO?

"Well, the list was chosen by a panel of eight advisers," said Bryton Sampson, a spokesman for The Leonardo, which is hosting the exhibition "101 Inventions That Changed the World" beginning Friday, June 14. "I can't help but notice that one of them is Danish, and that might have played a role."

The exhibition, which is making its American debut at The Leonardo, is much more than just a list. The centerpiece is a multimedia presentation that's like being inside a high-definition movie. There are 40 screens, horizontal and vertical, on which the story of those 101 inventions plays out. The system, dubbed SENSORY4, employs 40 high-def projectors, multichannel motion graphics and cinema-quality surround sound.

The producers, Grande Exhibitions, call it an "immersive display," which is an apt description.

"It's pretty stunning," Sampson said. "Just calibrating all the AV — projectors, files, audio and all that — is a huge task. There are 6,000 video files."

The presentation runs about 40 minutes, and you can enter at any point.

"You might walk in and it's on No. 82, and then you just stay until you've seen all of them," Sampson said.

Seeing the entire exhibit will take between one and two hours. In addition to the main multimedia gallery, "101 Inventions" includes an Inventors Den, where visitors experience specific inventions like maps, microscopes, paper and the electric motor through hands-on activities and touch screens.

And there is the Explore with LEGO room, where kids and former kids can put their inventive skills to use in a variety of challenges — simple machines, robotics, powered mechanisms, renewable energy and NX Robotics.

In keeping with The Leonardo's mandate, the "101 Inventions" exhibit is aimed at visitors of all ages.

"Even really young kids who don't quite understand the importance of the inventions will enjoy the scenery and the colors and the sounds, because it is such a sensory experience," Sampson said. "Everyone is going to get something different out of it. The big one for me is seeing the building blocks of the technology we have today."

For example, the smartphone isn't on the list, but pretty much everything that goes into making a smartphone — including digital photography, email, Internet and wireless communications — is.

And there are inventions we take entirely for granted that changed the world we live in. Like macadam — aka blacktop.

"Without that, we wouldn't be able to drive down the streets comfortably. We'd be driving on dirt roads," Sampson said. "This exhibit is a lot of fun, and it will make you think."

spierce@sltrib.com

'101 Inventions That Changed the World' at The Leonardo

1. Controlled fire

2. Paper

3. Pasteurization

4. X-ray photography

5. Arabic numerals

6. Optical fiber

7. Telephone

8. Birth-control pill

9. Cellular phones

10. Internet

11. Electric motor

12. Integrated circuit

13. Incandescent light bulb

14. Stone tools

15. Powered airplane

16. Television

17. Artificial satellite

18. Microprocessor

19. Penicillin

20. Gunpowder

21. Public electricity supply

22. Locomotive

23. Radar

24. Irrigation

25. Motorcar

26. Photography

27. Wheel and axle

28. Phonograph

29. Enigma machine

30. Atomic bomb

31. Polio vaccine

32. World Wide Web

33. Microscope

34. Refrigerator

35. Punched card

36. Cloning

37. Printing press

38. Electrical generator

39. Laser

40. Aspirin

41. Personal computer

42. Film camera/projector

43. PVC

44. Email

45. Lens

46. Dynamo

47. Tractor

48. High-pressure steam engine

49. Vaccination

50. Diesel engine

51. Jet engine

52. Gene therapy

53. Supercomputer

54. Alphabet

55. Color television

56. Cyclotron

57. Synthetic rubber

58. SI units

59. Reinforced concrete

60. Electron microscope

61. Hard disk drive

62. Digital camera

63. Magnetic resonance imaging

64. Metalworking

65. Spinning wheel

66. Nuclear reactor

67. Transistor radio

68. Map

69. Random access memory

70. Glider

71. Magnetic recording

72. Electric guitar

73. Space station

74. Metric system

75. Sonar

76. Geostationary communications satellite

77. LEGO

78. Computer-aided manufacturing

79. Telescope

80. Artificial neural network

81. Abacus

82. Cuneiform script

83. Bank note

84. Haber process

85. Nylon

86. Polystyrene

87. Radio telescope

88. Movable type

89. Canned goods

90. Typewriter

91. AC electric power

92. Stainless steel

93. Digital electric computer

94. Velcro

95. Macadam

96. Scanning tunneling microscope

97. Submarine

98. Transformer

99. Air conditioning

100. Global positioning system

101. Sail —

The Leonardo

"101 Inventions That Changed the World."

Where • The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City

When • June 14-Sept. 15: Sunday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Tickets • Adults, $15; youth (13-17), seniors (65+), students and military (with valid ID), $12; children 3-12, $10. Available at the door and at theleonardo.org.