More than 6,400 readers voted in the first round of Mundane Madness, our bracket challenge to celebrate the most wondrous inventions that don’t often get their due.
Some of the matchups were nail-biters. Work ground to a halt in the Atlas Obscura newsroom while we bickered over the relative merits of glass and paper. “Microscopes, telescopes!” said Abi Inman, our audience development manager. “Hugely instrumental to our understanding of the universe.” Fair point. But then again, “none of those ideas were shared before the printing press spread them on paper,” argued Ariel Azoff, our director of destination marketing and tourism partnerships. (Not entirely true—the argument tumbled into cuneiform tablets and parchment—but the printing press leveled up the scale in a big, big way.) In the end, paper edged out glass by just 325 votes.
Voters took the debates to Twitter, too. @DarkWhalberg came to the defense of the foot-measuring Brannock device, the undisputed underdog that “looks the coolest.” Some of you championed the simplest of the inventions, which carry fewer potential points of failure. Still others shared charming non sequiturs. Thanks, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer account, for pointing out that both toilet paper and sewers deserved “#2 seeds.” And then there was a visual representation of a finals matchup that, sadly for binder clip fans, is not going to happen:
live feed of binder clip’s complete domination of paper pic.twitter.com/WvaoiWtOzb— austin (@atchambers) March 15, 2018
Here’s where things stand after Round 1:
What happens next? “Paper clip vs. paper is the poetic final we want,” wrote @TerraChimp. Toilet paper vs. sewer is in the same spirit. It’s up to you. Cast your votes below. The final four will duke it out on Monday, March 26.