1801 — The “Puffing Devil” is first demonstrated

Constructed by Richard Trevithick in Camborne, Cornwall, the Puffing Devil holds the distinction of being the world’s first steam rail locomotive. On its inaugural run, on Christmas Eve 1801, it carried six passengers and a steersman, Trevithick’s cousin, Andrew Vivian. The run was considered quite successful by Trevithick, notwithstanding the accidental destruction of the engine a few days later.

In 1802, Trevithick would take out a patent on a high pressure steam engine (also the first of its kind), and in 1803, he built another steam locomotive, which was more successful than the Puffing Devil. The emblematic invention of the Industrial Revolution would transform the world over the next few decades.

Referenced in:

It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World — James Brown

1804 — The First Steam Train runs

The first ever steam train was built by Richard Trevithick in Wales in the early 19th century. On its maiden journey, on February 21, 1804, the unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along tracks from the Pen-y-darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon in south Wales. It was the world’s first ever railway journey.

From there, the idea took off like wildfire. Railways opened up the vast plains of Australia and North America to settlement, while in Europe, they drove the Industrial Revolution to heights of productivity without precedent in human history. And although steam would in time give way to diesel and electricity as the fuel of choice for running railways, the importance of trains for hauling freight and passengers would only grow as the years went by.

Referenced in:

It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World — James Brown

circa 40,000 BCE — the earliest boats are invented

Okay, this one’s a bit of a reach, but work with me here.

At some point, boats were invented. We do not when, or where, or by whom. Nor, Mr Brown’s opinions aside, do we know what gender the inventor had.

What we do know is that, at the very latest, humans arrived in Australia having traveled by boat approximately 40,000 years ago. So that’s when I’ve placed the date of the earliest boats, even though it was, in all probability, quite some time earlier.

1879 — Thomas Edison invents the light bulb

Technically, he’d been in the process of inventing it for a while. October 22, 1879 is simply the day on which he first successfully tested a practical incandescent electric light bulb.

Reliable electric light is one of those inventions that changes the world. Sure, we aleady had candles and gaslight, but electric light was both brighter and more reliable than its predecessors. Edison changed the world with it. He changed the hours of our work and leisure, and the way we think about both.

And being Thomas Edison, he went on to invent still more stuff, many of which also changed the world, but none so much as the humble light bulb.

Referenced in:

Black Man — Stevie Wonder
Mother Necessity — Schoolhouse Rock
It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World — James Brown

November 30, 2349 BCE — Noah builds an ark

So one day, God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, got pissed off at basically everyone. I mean everyone.

Except for this one guy, Noah. And Noah’s family and their families. And all but two of each different kind of animal. God told Noah that he was planning to flood the entire planet and drown, well, everyone. He further instructed Noah to build an ark of the dimensions 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits, to carry those whom God, in his infinite mercy, had deemed worthy of salvation.

Admittedly, no one’s quite sure exactly how big a cubit is – it’s based on the length of one’s forearm, but of course, no two forearms are exactly the same size either. What is fairly certain is that there’s no way that any such creation could be large enough to fit two of every animal, even allowing for excluding fish.