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What enormous problems had simple solutions?


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I was just thinking about this (well, partly because I was reading a time-travel book. I like to be prepared). What really huge problems turned out to have simple solutions?

I can think of :

Hand-washing removes germs.

Increasing folate in pregnancy decreased neural tube defects in children by up to 70%.

Turning babies onto their backs, not stomachs, to sleep, decreased SIDS by at least half.

 

Can you think of others?

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Using a checklist prevents a lot of errors by surgeons (who also write on people with Sharpie now to make sure they don't, say, amputate the wrong foot)  and pilots.

 

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optical lenses: eye sight, magnifying, etc.

compass: navigation

paper: light weight portable record keeping

nails & screws: fastening things together

penicillin: billions of lives saved

water wheel

refrigerator: solving some food preservation issues

steel: strong enough to do a lot of things, especially with cables

flint, and then matches: starting a fire, that most basic of life sustaining things

vaccination: disease prevention

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33 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

optical lenses: eye sight, magnifying, etc.

compass: navigation

paper: light weight portable record keeping

nails & screws: fastening things together

penicillin: billions of lives saved

water wheel

refrigerator: solving some food preservation issues

steel: strong enough to do a lot of things, especially with cables

flint, and then matches: starting a fire, that most basic of life sustaining things

vaccination: disease prevention

I don't know if all of those are simple solutions though. Like Penicillin took a lot of research before it moved from some bloke's mouldy experiment to the thing we take today.

However, the vaccination one is interesting, if you start with smallpox inoculation. It all began apparently from ordinary Turkish folk medicine - a tiny cut and rubbing a bit of smallbox fluid into it. smallpox inoculation history

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I don't know if this really fits, but finding out that H. Pylori is the cause of ulcers. My poor mom struggled with a bleeding ulcer a couple of times, and felt guilt because she was blamed for causing it by worrying too much (stress); yet, she couldn't figure out what she was so stressed about that would have caused it.🙁 She felt vindicated when this news came out.

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13 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Half flush and full flush toilets for reducing water consumption. I mean not super simple but not overly complicated and a huge saving.

Wasn't flushing toilets a fairly early invention? I'll have to remember that one (if I go back in time).

5 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

water wheel

 

Actually that reminded me that they had the pottery wheel for hundreds or even thousands of years before they thought of using it for transport.

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Posted (edited)

Oh, my husband pointed out another one.

Problem: People flying through windscreens in a car accident.

Solution: Seat-belt.

3 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

The puffy lines on the side of the road, that probably have a proper name, to shock drifting drivers back into their lane.

Oh yeah that's a good one. Also the flexible wire dividers between lanes like they have on highways. I feel like if I was inventing the whole road thing for cars from scratch, I'd make it mandatory. 

Edited by bookbard
Edited to add - husband said they're called "rumblestrips"
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27 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

The puffy lines on the side of the road, that probably have a proper name, to shock drifting drivers back into their lane.

I think those are called rumble strips.

And those yellow stripes across a fast road as you approach a junction that trick the brain into slowing down because the distance between them decreases as you get close.

I thought of one, maybe too complex - the Maclaren light weight folding baby buggy, importing aircraft engineering to an everyday problem.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Finlay_Maclaren

 

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I wish pull out shelves were less expensive, because there has never been a simpler solution to finding and grabbing things in the back of cabinets!

Banning smoking in buildings. It sounded like something that would never work, and yet here we are, unable to believe it was ever allowed!

This stupid little tool for blocking paint overspray https://www.homedepot.com/p/36-in-Aluminum-Multi-Angled-Paint-Spray-Shield-19PT0906/314472698?source=shoppingads&locale=en-US&pla&mtc=Shopping-BF-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA_LIA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA&cm_mmc=Shopping-BF-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA_LIA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA-71700000014585962-58700001236285396-92700067144412185&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpv2TBhDoARIsALBnVnnYuov3QEyUWIN_KsKYEO1KW0qNnuRDW4C3-DgixCDKTCrNOh04SfwaAvGbEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds , which my trim painters did not use and now my walls need to be fixed.

Mute buttons.

RainX

Dawn dish soap

Extra erasers that pop on the back of pencils

Nail brushes

Separate blankets on the bed.

DocuSign (or however it’s spelled)

Gummy vitamins

Masks

 

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58 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

I wish pull out shelves were less expensive, because there has never been a simpler solution to finding and grabbing things in the back of cabinets!

Banning smoking in buildings. It sounded like something that would never work, and yet here we are, unable to believe it was ever allowed!

This stupid little tool for blocking paint overspray https://www.homedepot.com/p/36-in-Aluminum-Multi-Angled-Paint-Spray-Shield-19PT0906/314472698?source=shoppingads&locale=en-US&pla&mtc=Shopping-BF-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA_LIA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA&cm_mmc=Shopping-BF-F_Brand-G-Multi-NA-Multi-NA-Feed-PLA_LIA-NA-NA-Catchall_PLA-71700000014585962-58700001236285396-92700067144412185&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpv2TBhDoARIsALBnVnnYuov3QEyUWIN_KsKYEO1KW0qNnuRDW4C3-DgixCDKTCrNOh04SfwaAvGbEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds , which my trim painters did not use and now my walls need to be fixed.

Mute buttons.

RainX

Dawn dish soap

Extra erasers that pop on the back of pencils

Nail brushes

Separate blankets on the bed.

DocuSign (or however it’s spelled)

Gummy vitamins

Masks

 

Gummy vitamins make all the difference with me. I don’t know what my problem is. It’s not like I don’t HAVE a glass of water nearby. I still don’t take them every day, but I take them WAY more often in gummy form. 

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Warning nerd moment: Back in late 11th century England when Hubert Walter reinstituted what had been an earlier medieval practice of creating 3 parts to a legal dispute. In the past, there were only two parts, the same document which was cut in two on a jagged line and each party received one half. That way it cut down on forgeries and they could line up the documents to test their validity if needed. When the third part was introduced, it was simply a way for the chancery to keep their own copy. It was a huge deal. Now the manner of organinzing them so they could be found when necessary was a whole other development. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chirograph

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4 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

Gummy vitamins make all the difference with me. I don’t know what my problem is. It’s not like I don’t HAVE a glass of water nearby. I still don’t take them every day, but I take them WAY more often in gummy form. 

They’re my every day dessert, lol. I’m so happy when Vitafusion D3 is in stock!

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others I can think of:

Salt.  So many absolutely needed functions with it for humans to survive.

water wells

Standardized measurements and medical equipment.  A “spoon” could be enough to kill you or save you pending whose spoon is used. 

The ability to give IVs

REDUNDANCY. I chant this daily. Redundancy saves lives. Every day we are all one accident from death. And a back up often prevents that death. Seatbelts save lives. Seatbelts and crash cage save more lives. Seatbelts, airbags, crash cage and better windshields save even more lives.

insulin saves lives. Having more than one vial saves more lives. (What if one breaks?)

scuba diving air tanks saves lives. Two valves to the tank saves lives. Training go to share your tank with someone who’s tank failed saves more lives. Breathing techniques saves more lives. Repeated training saves even more lives. 

Redundancy is NEVER a waste of time energy or resources. It literally saves lives.

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Place value method of symbolizing numbers, as opposed to tally method (think roman numerals). I watched a you tube video on doing long division using roman numerals. So glad we have place value or else I would be horrible at math.

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13 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

The puffy lines on the side of the road, that probably have a proper name, to shock drifting drivers back into their lane.

Do your rumble strips stick up from the road, like mini speed bumps? Ours are routered out of the road, rather than up, so the road is flat with grooves dug out of it. 

13 hours ago, bookbard said:

 

Oh yeah that's a good one. Also the flexible wire dividers between lanes like they have on highways. I feel like if I was inventing the whole road thing for cars from scratch, I'd make it mandatory. 

Do you mean those reflector thingies that make the dividing lines more visible? Or is this wire divider something that is an Aussie thing?

Back to the OP, not completely different from checklists, but Routines or Standard Operating Procedures are great to prevent or help solve problems.

 

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2 hours ago, fraidycat said:

Do your rumble strips stick up from the road, like mini speed bumps? Ours are routered out of the road, rather than up, so the road is flat with grooves dug out of it. 

Yes, ours stick up. I've never heard of having them carved out!

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27 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Yes, ours stick up. I've never heard of having them carved out!

Do they "buzz" if you drive over them? Ours are carved out here and if you cross onto them they make a loud buzzing type noise (I don't mean electronically, I just mean somehow the sound of driving over them creates a loud noise). It seems like they only started doing that about a decade ago, and it's really smart.

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36 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Yes, ours stick up. I've never heard of having them carved out!

The problem with the ones that stick up is that in areas that get snow, the snow plows would just scrape them off. Carving them into the road means snow plows can just go right over them

 

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30 minutes ago, KSera said:

Do they "buzz" if you drive over them? Ours are carved out here and if you cross onto them they make a loud buzzing type noise (I don't mean electronically, I just mean somehow the sound of driving over them creates a loud noise). It seems like they only started doing that about a decade ago, and it's really smart.

Buzz is too gentle a word. lol
Loud buzzing, is more accurate. 'Scare the daylights out of you' buzzing...

I think we've had them here 30 years, ish.

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15 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Buzz is too gentle a word. lol
Loud buzzing, is more accurate. 'Scare the daylights out of you' buzzing...

I think we've had them here 30 years, ish.

Lol. Sounds like a good solution 👍

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re: wheel, pottery wheel - it was long after the wheel was used for transport that it finally occurred to anybody to use it for spinning and then for weaving. You can spin much more fiber into thread in the same time using a spinning wheel, but it was invented amazingly late.

I think, though, that when it comes to transport the issue is one of infrastructure. The earliest wheels were big heavy things, which needed to be pulled by big heavy animals, and in order to do that you need all the gear to attach the animal to the vehicle in the first place. If you already have a system for moving things around, why change it?

And of course, wheels are impractical in lots of areas, even today, places which don't have roads and have rough terrain instead. A mule can climb up a mountain. A horse and cart maybe can't.

Once wheeled vehicles were in place, there was room to change the wheel itself to be lighter, so even a child could pull a handcart or ride a bike. But nobody's going to invent spoked wheels until there's a need, and there won't be a need until people are already using wheels in the first place.

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At my house, masking tape has nearly eliminated food waste. Dh has never been one to put any real effort into finding things in the fridge. Several years ago I started labeling leftovers with masking tape and a sharpie. Leftovers and ingredients don’t get lost as easily so we use up what we have before cooking more food. 
 

Maybe civilized people have nice, clear Tupperware containers in their fridge? At my house it can look like there are 5 containers of sour cream and 5 more of yogurt. 

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This is lovely to read.   

Although the babies on their backs didn't do much to help babies live.  Not a conspiracy though.   Because of the intense research effort into SIDS, it got a Medical definition at around the same time as the babies-on-back campaign started that was better than, "Healthy baby died while asleep."  Any death that would have been counted as SIDS before, but not under the better definition was called SUDS.    The U for unexpected.   If you add up the SIDS and the SUDS, nothing has really changed.  

 

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14 hours ago, Terabith said:

What time travel book are you reading?  I am a sucker for time travel books/ movies/ tv shows. 

Not totally about time travel in the normal sense and totally OT (sorry), but have you ever watched the movie About Time. It is one of my all time favs. 

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18 hours ago, SusanC said:

There isn't a lot of "simple" in aviation?

Hmmm...I have heard tell the history of aviation started with kites, that is the idea of something man made flying in the sky. kites seemed simple.

That was the thought behind anyways 😊

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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

The metric system to eliminate tedious unit conversions. 

“Come on America! Join, like, Everybody Else!” 

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I thought of another one.

Big problem - parasites and bacteria in food, esp meat, but also milk. Either deadly, or causing long-term illness.

Simple solution - heat food until those things are dead. (You only need to bring milk to the boil). Enjoy new flavours!

 

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36 minutes ago, bookbard said:

I thought of another one.

Big problem - parasites and bacteria in food, esp meat, but also milk. Either deadly, or causing long-term illness.

Simple solution - heat food until those things are dead. (You only need to bring milk to the boil). Enjoy new flavours!

 


Generally speaking, cooked food is more bioavailable too.  

 

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10 hours ago, regentrude said:

The metric system to eliminate tedious unit conversions. 

Including metric currency to replace legacy currencies. 

I grew up with 12 pennies to the shilling,  20 shillings to the pound, some large transactions in guineas, which were 21 shillings I think.

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Meh, the metric system is overrated. In my actual day-to-day life I rarely need to increase or decrease a measurement by a factor of ten. Instead, I need to halve or double it, cut it to 1/3 or triple it, quarter or quadruple it.

Standard measurements handle two of those just fine, and often the one in the middle as well. Metric is only good for moving the decimal around. If I want to cut a recipe that calls for 13 grams of something down to 1/4 of the size, I have to do math.

Also, it has not escaped my notice that while the metric system has a whole buttload of prefixes to use, in practice most of them don't get used, and those that are used are typically only used with one base unit, not all of them. Nobody says "Five deciliters", they refer to "half a liter". They don't speak of "2 hectometers" either, but instead ".2 kilometers" or "200 meters". This annoys me.

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1 hour ago, Bootsie said:

velcro

Yes, but which also created the new problem of kids not learning how to tie their shoes until much later than previous generations…😄

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12 hours ago, Quill said:

Yes, but which also created the new problem of kids not learning how to tie their shoes until much later than previous generations…😄

Speaking as an adult I am team slip-on shoe. I mean sure maybe sometimes lace-up shoes are needed, but unless it's absolutely necessary I avoid them.  

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For some reason I used to worry as a child that I would never have an original thought.

Regarding the topic at hand, I like to say, “They sent a man to the moon before it occurred to anyone to add wheels to luggage.”

I have never heard anyone else ever mention this, so there, my one original thought.

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