In the age of space travel, wireless communication, and nanotechnology, any claim to the title for 'greatest invention of all time' faces formidable competition. A single device, however, stands far above the rest. Space shuttle? No. Automobile? Sorry. Computer? Guess not. Cell phone? Nope. According to a national survey in the UK, the winner is clearly (drum roll....) the bicycle.
Bicycles may be the ultimate sustainable machines. Their ability to transfer human muscle power into motion efficiently is unsurpassed. They are also adaptable to a wide range of cargo-hauling, people-moving, and other work-accomplishing applications ranging from clothes-washing to television-viewing.
Recognizing this potential, bicycle manufacturer Specialized and Google co-sponsored and organized the Innovate or Die pedal-powered machine contest. The result: 102 design innovations that use nothing but human power to do something useful.
The photo above shows Kevin Blake, who designed an ingenious and timely pedal-powered snowplow using parts from a bike and a discarded riding lawnmower. The design was a runner-up award winner. View video of Blake's plow in action is here.