The twentieth century probably wins the competition for the 'Century-of-maximum-impact-on-mankind'. Cell phones, Digital music, MP3 players, Internet, Internet devices, Touch technology, 'Don't Touch' technology, Plug'n'Play, Cordless power transmission, Non-coal/non-wood/non-fossil fuel based energy, The Human Genome Project, Nike shoes, Test tube babies, Pamela Anderson's 'babies', Television, HD, 3D, GM food, MCD, Swine Flu, AIDS virus, Computer virus, Supersonic travel, Underwater travel, Air travel, Space travel, Satellites, Missiles to bring down the satellites, Tanks, Stealth fighters, AK-47, Mechanized wars, Chemical warfare, Biological warfare, Oil wars, Format wars, Atomic energy, Demonstration of atomic energy, Nuclear energy, Threatening to demonstrate nuclear energy, 24-hr News Channels, Tabloids - You name anything that has had a significant impact on mankind and you will see that it has happened in the Twentieth Century. And it was all a result of trying to answer questions like "Can I...?" "How can I...?" "Where can I...?" "What can I...?" and such like.
In fact, the twentieth century is perhaps the century when we, the people, finally figured out that no aspect of life is a mystery and sufficient analysis and research will always provide an answer. Some of these are answers which change every other day - Is Global Warming for real? There are other answers which are conclusively concluded very fast - Is Obama for real? Yes, according to the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Then there are answers which are all set to go down the annals of analytical history as being eternally in-conclusive - Was 9/11 for real? Was WMD for real? Irrespective of which category they belong to, today we have answers, provided by analysis being done into every imaginable aspect of our life however trivial it might seemingly be.
I came across one such example in my newspaper recently. An analysis to explain what is commonly known as Happiness. They call it an enigma, assign it a code that they then claim has to be cracked and go about trying to do so using research, more research, yoga, genetics, a paradox and some philosophical MJ ('mumbo-jumbo' for the uninitiated). Read it here if you are interested. Of course, staying true to form, I gave it a miss because I knew such arcane things like "Happiness" are not written with me as the target audience. Not that I don't feel happy, ever, but just that I do not want to get into the nitty-gritty of understanding the philosophy behind it! But as you have already read, it did get me thinking about the twentieth century and what we, as a race, have been up to during it.