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Guest Thinkers

Our Favorite Year

When it comes to thinking big, it doesn’t get much bigger than determining the most significant year in human history. The Economist’s has launched a poll asking visitors to weigh in on the subject. The winner so far? 1439, the year Gutenberg invented the printing press. It is followed closely by 5 BC, the year of Jesus’s birth. 1953, the year DNA was discovered, is a distant third. And what was the most recent year suggested by the editors? This one.

2009 is the year of the Copenhagen Climate Summit—possibly humanity’s last chance to come to an international agreement on how to confront climate change.  The Economist deemed this an important enough moment to rank among the most vital ever.  Margot Wallström, the European Commission Vice-President, may agree with this sentiment: she stressed the importance of the meeting in a recently posted interview. Novelist and journalist Kurt Anderson suggested to Big Think that the time period around the 1840s is hugely underrated in terms of importance; he calls it the moment that technological innovation was translated into useful products. Chef Jacques Pepin, meanwhile, explained the importance of food innovation to human history. What are your thoughts on unrecognized but vital years in our evolution?


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