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Survey responses
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Anjana Ahuja
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Philip Ball
Marlene Oscar Berman
Gustav VR Born
K Eric Drexler
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Scott Aaronson
theoretical computer scientist at the Institute for Quantum Computing University of Waterloo, Canada
The greatest innovation in computer science was to represent machines as nothing but strings of information.
Ian Abley
architect and research engineer
The brick made civilisation possible, and will continue to do so.
Professor Thomas M Addiscott
soil scientist, computer modeller and science writer
The Haber-Bosch process for the synthesis of ammonia allowing the production of nitrogen fertiliser.
Anjana Ahuja
science columnist The Times
Sanitation, vaccination and modern surgery are all worth celebrating.
Dr Hugh Aldersey-Williams
writer and curator
As a writer I find two of the greatest innovations to be the tea cosy and digestive biscuits.
Dr Martyn Amos
senior lecturer in computing Manchester Metropolitan University
'Take away the semiconductor, and all of electronics - all of it! - collapses, along with all of the world's economies.'
Dr Roger Armour
retired consultant surgeon and inventor of the Optyse Lens Free Ophthalmoscope
When Helmholtz announced his invention of the ophthalmoscope in December 1850, he gave the healing professions a priceless gift which he refused to patent.
Dr Ken Arnold
head of public programmes, Wellcome Trust
From my perspective x-rays have always seemed pretty extraordinary.
Dr Scott Atran
research director, anthropology at the National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
Showing the limits of theories of rational choice and utility is a valid and important scientific achievement.
Branko R Babic
Modern life without electricity would be impossible and would return humanity to prehistoric modes of existence.
Julian Baggini
writer, journalist and editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine
Kant’s revolutionary idea that knowledge is essentially framed by the human mind.
Dr Philip Ball
consultant editor at Nature and science writer
Arguably, the most useful innovations in chemistry are methods of chemical analysis. I know that this sounds almost irredeemably dull, but I can't help feeling that that is the way with truly useful innovations.
Dr Alec Bangham
formerly of the ARC Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham.
Human pheronomes have recently been shown to be unique to an individual thus suggesting that they may be profiling a person's MHC.
Robert S Baratz
president of the National Council Against Health Fraud
In the field of cellular biology, the greatest invention was the development and refinement of the electron microscope.
Michael Baum
emeritus professor of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities at University College London.
Understanding breast cancer as a systemic disorder has led to better survival rates.
Gordon Bell
principal researcher with the Microsoft eSciences Research Group, San Francisco
The Big Bang occurred when processing, memory, and control (programming) all came together to create the stored program computer concept that was the basis of subsequent computer innovation.
Marlene Oscar Berman
professor of anatomy and neurobiology, professor of psychiatry and professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine
Neuroimaging techniques for understanding healthy brain structure and function, disease, trauma, and other disorders
Dr Jong Bhak
director, Korean Bioinformation Center (KOBIC)
Exchanging biological/scientific information via openfree hypertext servers will revolutionise the collaborative work of biology/science in the near future as much as the internet itself did to biology in the 1990s.
Dr Susan Blackmore
writer, lecturer and broadcaster
The electroencephalogram. It began the process of being able to peer inside a human brain and watch it actually working.
Bernhard Blauel
architect, RIBA, Blauel Architects.
The greatest innovation in my field is man’s ability to reach places where gravity is reduced to imperceptible levels.
Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
reader in geography at the University of Hull
I can think of a bad one: ever more people pontificate about science and especially 'global warming' without any real understanding of climate and how little we understand it.
Gustav VR Born
Research professor at the William Harvey Research Institute and emeritus professor of pharmacology at King's College London
The method for quantifying platelet aggregation and its inhibition known as optical aggregometry.
David Bradley
freelance science writer based in Cambridge, sciencebase.com
Our knowledge of the inorganic chemistry of ammonia, lime and sulphuric acid.
John Brignell
emeritus professor of industrial instrumentation at the University of Southampton
The 200-year-old invention of lithography changed the modern world.
Professor Philip C Brookes
Agriculture and Environment Division, Rothamsted Research
The greatest innovation was Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection; that is, species can change as the environment does.
Časlav Brukner
associate professor of theoretical physics at the University of Vienna
Bell's theorem has fundamentally changed our understanding of physical reality.
Professor Vladimir Burdyuzha
Astro Space Center, Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow
The discovery that dark energy was already boosting the expansion of the Universe as long as nine billion years ago.
Nick Bush
business improvement consultant, BT Retail
What makes the Internet a key innovation is the effect it is beginning to have on societal structures in business, politics and leisure.
Dr Andrew Calcutt
principal lecturer, University of East London
Recognition that surface appearances while not necessarily untrue are hardly sufficient, still less essential.
Dr Marcus Chown
cosmology consultant of New Scientist
The greatest innovation in physics was the realisation that the fundamental reality that underpins the world is totally unlike the familiar, everyday world of our senses.
Dr Stuart Clark
science journalist and author
Changing the emphasis of astronomy from measuring stellar positions for navigation to investigating the physical nature of celestial objects.
Professor Peter Cochrane
co-founder of ConceptLabs
The invention of the triode vacuum tube in 1915 by Lee DeForest marks the beginning of the information technology revolution.
David Colquhoun
research professor of pharmacology at University College London
The invention of the patch clamp made it possible to observe the opening and shutting of single ion channel molecules.
Phillip J Colquitt
independent technical advisor
The most important innovation I’ve seen, being involved in health care for 30 years, is the move from metal to plastic.
Dr Bill Cooke
senior lecturer, School of Visual Arts, University of Auckland at Manukau, New Zealand
The greatest innovation in the field of religious studies is the very invention of the whole discipline.
Quentin Cooper
Radio can bring you into instant contact with almost anyone on the planet in an unfettered unfiltered way