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The Most Important Invention From Every U.S. State

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In almost 250 years of history, the U.S. has been responsible for many inventions that have made a considerable impact on the world.

Everyone knows about the big ones, like the internet, the airplane, or the credit card, but there are literally thousands of other interesting inventions that fly under the radar. These advancements in technology have come from every corner of the country, and it’s worth knowing some of the more important ones.

Inventions State-by-State

Today’s infographic comes from MNU and it breaks down the most impactful inventions from each state, along with the year and inventor associated with each advancement.

The Most Important Invention From Every U.S. State

It’s pretty hard to argue against the importance of inventions like the iPhone, the television, or the helicopter. However, as with any list like this, many of the choices are still quite arbitrary and subjective.

With that in mind, let’s look at the contributions from the biggest states, as well as important advancements in technology made in other parts of the country.

The “Big” States

To begin, here are the inventions from the “big” states – the three that dominate the country in terms of GDP and population.

California: The iPhone, finally released in 2007, is credited to Steve Jobs and the Apple engineers that made it possible. It’s worth noting that you can also thank the folks in the Golden State for inventing the popsicle, WD-40, hula hoops, and of course, many of the digital goodies coming out of Silicon Valley.

New York: The credit card is credited to Frank McNamara, a founder of Diners Club International. The story behind the first Diners Club card is famous. The gist of it is: McNamara was in a restaurant with clients in NYC, but forgot his wallet. His wife had to drive to the restaurant to pay the tab for him, and in that moment he conceived of a multipurpose charge card that could be used with just a signature.

Other famous inventions from the Empire State? Jell-O, toilet paper, potato chips, and air conditioning.

Texas: From the Lone Star State comes the electric typewriter, which is also an obvious precursor to the PC. You can also thank Texans for a variety of food innovations. Corndogs, chili, frozen margaritas, and even fajitas are all allegedly from Texas.

Other States

Contributions like the iPhone and credit card are pretty impressive – but other states have also made incredible contributions to the modern economy.

The first gas-powered automobile was made in Ohio, and then Michigan took autos another step forward with the invention of the assembly line. In nearby Indiana, the gas pump was invented to put fuel in cars.

People in other states built on what Texas did with the electric typewriter. The first digital computer was built in 1937 in Illinois, the first computer mouse was built in Oregon, and the first IBM PC was made in Florida in 1981. The good folks at MIT in Massachusetts also helped create the World Wide Web, which prompted the information revolution we live and breathe today.

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Data Visualization

Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

Where are the happiest, least happy, and fastest improving countries worldwide? We’ve broken down this annual ranking by region to answer that question.

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Visualizing the Happiest Country on Every Continent

The state of our world is shifting beneath our feet — economics alone no longer equate to satisfaction, let alone happiness.

Today’s visualization pulls data from the seventh World Happiness Report 2019, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels. We’ve previously shown the variables used to measure happiness in this report, but here, we break down rankings by continent and region for a clearer picture of where each country lies.

happiness north america map

North America

Unhappy Americans have caused the country to tumble in rankings for a third straight year, despite evidence that things are generally looking up. The report attributes much of this erosion to a variety of addictions: opioids, workaholism, gambling, internet, exercise, and even shopping are among them.

Haiti is the least happy country in this region. The country is still struggling to rebuild sanitation infrastructure and other educational and healthcare programs, despite foreign aid.

In brighter news, Nicaragua is seeing great gains in happiness levels, as the country makes a concentrated effort to reduce poverty.

happiness south america map

South America

In South America, the majority of countries cluster around a score of six on the happiness scale.

The one notable exception to this is Venezuela, which is faltering in both happiness rank and regional improvement. The nation’s hyperinflation and humanitarian crisis both show no signs of slowing down.

happiness europe map

Europe

Finland comes out on top of the world for a second consecutive year, and it’s not difficult to see why. The country boasts a stable work-life balance, bolstered by a comprehensive welfare state.

Scandinavian countries appear among the happiest nations for similar very reasons — elevating the region’s score to 16% above the global average.

On the flip side, Ukraine is the unhappiest, likely intensified by the ongoing war in southeastern Donbass. Greece is the least improved, as it continues to heal from the sovereign debt crisis.

happiness middle east map

Middle East and Central Asia

Uzbekistan shows the swiftest regional improvement, as the country has launched an ambitious reform agenda for greater economic, social, and political development and openness.

Unfortunately, Syria’s continued civil war comes with a heavy price for its people and economy, as does the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — although the latter doesn’t seem to impact Israel’s happiness ranking. In fact, Israel finished with the 13th best score, globally.

happiness asia 2019

Rest of Asia and Oceania

In East Asia, the average happiness score is quite close to the global average, with Taiwan standing out as the happiest country.

Singapore out-competes other countries within Southeast Asia, despite only being home to a population of 5.6 million. Its neighbor Malaysia, however, plunged from 35th to 80th place.

Oceania stands alone – Australia and New Zealand are closely matched in their individual happiness scores.

happiness africa map

Africa

The African continent as a whole fares 19.2% below the global average. But there are silver linings, with strong strides towards improvement being made.

Mauritius benefits from good governance and a buoyant tourism sector — with visitor arrivals equal to the island’s 1.3 million population. Meanwhile, Benin has soared in the rankings, and is supported by the World Bank in key structural reforms such as poverty reduction and access to basic services.

What could these rankings look like in another ten years?

Notes: The Africa map was updated to show more country scores. The report only covers 156 countries, so “Oceania” only refers to Australia and New Zealand in this instance.

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History

Mapping the Spread of Words Along Trade Routes

When goods traveled to new regions, their native names sometimes hitchhiked along with them. This map shows the spread of loanwords around the world.

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Mapping the Spread of Words Along Trade Routes

In the early history of international trade, when exotic goods traveled to new regions, their native names sometimes hitchhiked along with them.

Naturally, the Germans have a term – Wanderwörter – for these extraordinary loanwords that journey around the globe, mutating subtly along the way.

Today’s map, produced by Haisam Hussein for Lapham’s Quarterly, charts the flow of Wanderwörter along global trade routes.

Tea

China’s export dominance over tea influenced how people around the world refer to their steeped beverages.

The spread of tea along the Silk Road from Mandarin-speaking Northern China resulted in much of Asia and Africa having similar sounding words for tea. Chá evolved into the chai widely consumed in India and surrounding areas today.

Tea’s other major trade route, through Min-speaking Southern China, spread the pronunciation that became the standard around Europe. This is why we see such striking similarities between thé (French), thee (Dutch), tee (German), (Spanish), and (Italian).

Tomatoes

Sometimes, a word’s journey isn’t completely linear.

In the case of tomatoes, the Italians’ decision to dub the red fruit pomodoro, or golden apple, led to a linguistic fork in the road. This is the reason the English name for tomatoes is still similar to the Aztec term tomatl, but in Russian, pomidor can be traced back to Italian.

Cotton

Many people in North America would be surprised to learn that “cotton” is a direct link to the Arabic word al-qutn.

Coca

When the Spanish brought coca from South America and spread it into the global market, its easy-to-pronounce name tagged along for the entire journey. Though its spelling may differ across cultures, say the word “coca” in many countries and people will likely know what you’re referring to.

A Small World After All

Most of us are vaguely aware that parts of our langauge consist of loanwords from other regions and cultures, but seeing the spread of language in map form is a powerful reminder that the globalization as we know it is a continuation of centuries of commercial and cultural exchange.

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