We�ve heard them all before, the wheel, the car, the rocket ship, the airplane, the atomic bomb, the Internet. There are a few technologies that have obviously changed our world, some for the better, some for the worse. But in all the hubbub over these obviously world-changing inventions, some equally important technologies have been forgotten. Below are some inventions that have had an undeniable impact on our world technologies that you wouldn�t at first suspect.

The stirrup. That’s right, that little metal hoop that hangs off a saddle. The partnership of horses and humans is undeniably important in the development of warfare, a horse can run approximately three times faster than a person. But the stirrup gave added stability. It gives riders the support that makes it possible to ride all day no conquering force could travel as far and as quickly as they needed to without it. It also gives an undeniable advantage in battle: maneuverability. A warrior with stirrups can stand, lean from side to side, swing an ax, shoot a bow, or throw a spear without danger of falling off. Chances are, without the stirrup, many battles that have shaped the political landscape and history of our world would have gone differently.

The battery. Everyone thinks the invention of electricity was extremely important, and it was. But the battery gives us that electricity in a portable form, making it possible for us to have flashlights, mobile phones, cars, mp3 players, pacemakers, anything that relies on electric power and that isn’t practical to plug into the wall. Batteries have made devices both lifesaving and mundane possible, and our world wouldn’t look the same without them.

Traffic sensors. Most people would cite cars as an important invention. But traffic sensors are an invention that makes car travel possible especially in crowded cities. In bucolic towns, sensors are a convenience they sense when your car is waiting at a light, and if there is no car at the opposing light, it will change early and let you go through. But in a big city with millions of intersections to coordinate, traffic sensors play a crucial role in keeping lights properly timed and congestion to a minimum. Traffic would be much more complicated to manage without traffic sensors.

Cement. Without it, we would have no skyscrapers or highways. We would also have no Egyptian Pyramids or Appian Way. Cement has played an incredibly important role throughout the history of civilization, as a durable building material that holds up under extreme stress and seriously long-term erosive forces. It�s strong yet flexible enough to support a skyscraper, durable enough to hold up under millions of cars and trucks per day on our nation�s busiest highways, and long-lasting enough to have held the Great Pyramid together for over four thousand years.

These inventions are all undeniably crucial although they wouldn’t be at the top of the list for best-known important technologies. So next time you drop your keys at night, read about the fall of Rome, sit in traffic at an intersection, or take to the highway, think about where we’d be without the battery, the stirrup, the traffic sensor, and cement. We’re lucky these technologies came along.

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