What object tells the story of life in 2010?

A History of the World in 100 Objects tells two million years of history through one hundred objects from the British Museum's collection.

For the 100th object, the British Museum wanted to choose an object to that told the story of the ingenuity and the challenges that shape humanity in the 21st century.

We asked the audience which object they would choose and why.

  • 18:47 13th October 2010 A small piece of Apollo moon rock sealed in a clear plastic block. The first 99 objects would represent the progress of mankind in the world, and the 100th would represent our first step off-world. - Paul Gray (Stevenage, Herts)
  • 18:40 13th October 2010 There can only be one: the Phoenix rescue pod! Which reason do you want?!! - Alan Whitehouse (Manchester, UK)
  • 18:33 13th October 2010 The solar-powered lantern. It displays the ingenuity of humanity amidst a world that's facing scarce resources and the need to go "green." It's also a safer lantern compared to kerosene ones. - Steven (San Jose, CA)
  • 17:49 13th October 2010 A bubbling fountain. It might make us smile, which we need in 2010. It might also remind us of really precious things like clean air and water. They were vital millions of years ago as we carved stone axes. They are vital now in the 21st century and will be so tomorrow whatever our future. Without a living environment our world will be another dead rock spinning in space. - Jill (London)
  • 17:38 13th October 2010 Radio transmitter/receiver (Tesla's radio controlled boat - 1898). A pure invention of human mind. Electromagnetic waves are not apparent to us. We do not have sensors to detect them, we needed a genius to discover them. And their discovery changed human history forever in too many ways to count. - Mika Tasich (London)
  • 17:21 13th October 2010 Aeroplane. It is a fulfilment of an age long human dream. I believe that it is safe to assume that every person mentioned in this series, from our ancestors wielding hand axes to tea sipping Victorians - everyone dreamt of flying. It is a humbling experience to realise that countless pharaohs, kings, queens and emperors would probably exchange all their riches for a flight. - Mika Tasich (London)
  • 15:44 13th October 2010 A roll of soft toilet paper. We take it for granted today, but I remember going to my great grandfather's toilet at the end of the garden in the East End of London in the early 60s and HATING the rough, non-absorbent paper that was there. The rapid destruction of the world's forests may eventually make toilet paper a relic of the past. - Naomi (Israel)
  • 14:31 13th October 2010 Solar powered devices (like lantern, cooker) Because this represents humanity's ingenuity in using the readily available power of the sun to get things done, and its breaking away from unsustainable ways of living which will be essential to take us forward in the 21st century. - Nikhil (India)
  • 13:05 13th October 2010 A mobile phone. It has transformed communication throughout the world. - Doug (Dorset)
  • 12:54 13th October 2010 I would select a glass box containing "NOTHING" to represent the virtual space of the World Wide Web which allows the planet's population to share knowledge and change social, political, religious and cultural conditions instantly. - Christopher Wride (Paris, France)
  • 10:35 13th October 2010 The microchip, because it's the fundamental building block of modern life. - John Darkin (Stratford-upon-Avon)
  • 09:55 13th October 2010 Laser. It is the main object that has redesigned today's human landscape in the form of architecture, design, sound and medicine. It is also the main interpreter between analog and digital world. And, it will always sound modern, right? - Camilla Milena Feher (Berlin)
  • 09:39 13th October 2010 Hokosai print 'The Wave'. The reason: Hokosai >Van gogh > Picasso > Malvevich>>> >Bauhaus >>>> Functional Spacial design >> all manufactured objects of the 20th Century - Eric Marwick (Dundee Scotland)
  • 09:30 13th October 2010 Radiocommunications. Without Marconi's utilisation of radio waves none of the modern communications systems would be possible. The idea of watching people - Brian Drumm (Christchurch New Zealand)
  • 09:04 13th October 2010 I would choose a copy of the human genome. It would represent man's instinct to explore and understand the world around him; his ability to work and co-operate with others and his capacity for altruism by publishing the breakdown of the human genome on the internet for the benefit of all. - Dianne (UK)
  • 08:43 13th October 2010 The mobile telephone, because it has revolutionised life for people almost all over the world - as distinct from just here. Remote communities in Africa and Asia can summon health, education & other help as never before. An African nurse friend can now summon an ambulance in 2 hours instead of 3 days. - Julia (Winchester)
  • 07:42 13th October 2010 USB memory stick. Symbolic of the ever-increasing power and ubiquity of the digital domain. For example you could easily store the whole of the History of the World in 100 objects series on one of these today, and, at the present rate of development, well before the end of the next decade, the successor of these may be able to hold the total of all human knowledge. - David Fudger (Bedford)
  • 06:48 13th October 2010 The solar lantern. It improves the lives of people across the globe by utilizing an alternative source of energy now that energy conservation is at the forefront of global issues. In addition, it saves the lives of villagers who no longer need to depend on kerosene for light. - Helen (Los Angeles)
  • 01:50 13th October 2010 A television. It's everywhere, even in the most remotest places, and it must have had enormous influences on mankind over the years. - Sirano (Singapore)
  • 00:07 13th October 2010 Arthur C Clarke said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". This is modern magic despite the fact it's been around for over 50 years. Most people, myself included, know nothing of its processes and the intricacies of its design. Yet for billions of us it plays a crucial part it our lives. The integrated circuit, aka the computer chip. - Nollie Issen (Chiswick)
  • 20:30 12th October 2010 The atomic bomb. Its use or the non-use will control the destiny of the world. - David Rostron (Isle of Bute)
  • 19:40 12th October 2010 Mobile phone, universal and revolutionary. The twenty first century leveller. Kills many birds with one stone. For example, it makes information available to all, through internet as well as banking for the poor and communication infrustructure. What sums best our globalised world? - Mwaura Kamau (Nairobi, Kenya)
  • 19:25 12th October 2010 Mobile phone - Sue Morgan (Suffolk)
  • 19:25 12th October 2010 It has to be the microprocessor. All the key developments of the twentieth century relied upon it: mobile phones; satellites; desktop computers, and countless other domestic, public, military devices. It changed the twentieth century and ushered in the twenty first. - Brian Stanley (Bradford)
  • 19:18 12th October 2010 Concorde It is one of the few times in man's history that we have not gone forward but moved backwards - Richard Holmes (Kent)
  • 18:31 12th October 2010 The Davey Lamp. Created in 1815 by Sir Humphrey Davey represented a huge leap forward in mine safety, not least because the fine mesh meant that firedamp wouldn't ignite, but also because gasses such as CO2 and the level of oxygen could be determined before the miners asphyxiated. This revolutionised mine safety and saved many lives. - Mark Lawson-Jones (Magor, South Wales)
  • 18:00 12th October 2010 The 100th item should be the industrial robot. We have used it to make and forget it can undo. It's the perfect solution to the environment -just reverse these highly universal machines and they will break up to materials again, re-use or recycle. - 100th item TimeMachineFun (Chichester)
  • 17:40 12th October 2010 My favourite contender is the Gay Rainbow Flag. It is an instantly recognisable symbol, not of an army, nation, or religion, but of a social group who only in the past 40 years have been able to express themselves freely. It is also significant that it is multicoloured and perfectly suits reproduction on full colour media, from print to the internet and iPhone. My other choice is the bicycle. - Tia-Anna, Drag Queen (Sheffield)
  • 16:34 12th October 2010 The postage stamp which since its invention in britain in 1840 has brought the world together more than anything before. It isthe mobile phone of its time - Brian Butler (Spalding)

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