INVENTED: 25,000 B.C. USE: Stopping bugs
Weaving dates back to the Paleolithic era, some 27,000 years ago, preceding the domestication of plants and animals and farming. Hungry humans may have used nets to snare prey. Since then, mesh has played an essential part in our comfort and survival. One of its most prominent current incarnations is the mosquito net, an omnipresent protective covering in some countries. Thanks to machines that churn out cotton, polyester, polypropylene, and nylon weaves as fine as 0.6 mm, the air-permeable shields are a key tool in preventing the spread of malaria and other bug-borne illnesses. Insecticide-treated skeeter-stoppers helped prevent more than 600 million cases of malaria and saved 6.8 million lives between 2000 and 2015.