Modern technology - Why did it take so long?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by superluminal, May 18, 2007.

  1. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    Where would you draw a line between the world of pre and post? What year exactly? If it's so obvious and blatant, you should know. Sure, you can't date it, can you?

    Explosion of industrial revolution could be dated to later decades of 19th century. However, industrial revolution was going on in 18 and even 17 centuries. Industrialism as a concept has been born somewhere in 15-16 centuries. There was no bam, even though the western life was distinctively different in 15 and 19 centuries.
     
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  3. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    But it wasn't until fairly recently that people were free to make a profit and cross class borders.
    The industrial revolution carried on its back a social revolution of empowerment of individuals and movements to abolish class systems.
    Entrepreneurship could well have played a significant role in expediating these breakthroughs.
     
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  5. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    Well you have to bear in mind that the Greeks didn't have "printing", so the printing press was inconceivable. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, trade was greatly curtailed in western Europe...not to mention that there still was no upward mobolity. "Serfs" were really slaves by another name, unable to leave their land unless the landholder said they could.

    Even if a serf came up with an innovation, it almost certainly would have been something directly related to his producing food, as he didn't have the free time and breadth of information needed to innovate in other areas. Those limited innovations ould have had to overcome significant obstancles to spread beyond the local area.

    Populations living hand to mouth subsistence lives aren't the best for technological development. So you may need either a random burst of genius or a significant number of people with significant leisure time (and education) to enhance the likelihood of new technology being invented. (You also need a system of rewarding the inventors...if a serf invented a better plow, he couldn't "sell it" because he couldn't legally own property in medieval Europe. Everything he had belonged legally to the landowner.
     
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  7. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    There was an explosion in the social mobility after the collapse of the Roman Empire. One should just have had guts and "iron fists" to carve a piece of pie. Moneymaking abilities would not have sent one far, that's true. Serfdom was not born by means of BAM either. Few centuries upon the collapse peasants were as free (except "taxes") as you can get, much freer than you btw.
     
  8. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting. You apparently see a continuum of progress from 100AD to now with a steady, linear development from horse and manual power to space shuttles.

    Interesting.
     
  9. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

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    This I can see... yes. Makes sense.
     
  10. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

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    First, what is progress? I don't think more techology=progress, I would call the things that industrialism has done to humans, society and nature a crime, not a progress.

    Whatever progress is, I see a continuum of "advances", plateaus, downgrages, spikes from 100AD to now. What I don't see - two steps "before" and "after".
     
  11. Singularity Banned Banned

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    Hypothetically speaking; What will happen if we go in past and show the Greeks the steam engine train and everything latest in technology that can be used in it with respect to powering it mechanically ?


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  12. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    the industrial revolution didn't really gear up untill the invention of the internal combustion engine.

    yes, steam and water played a part but their major drawback was portability and to a lesser extent efficiency.
     
  13. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    The industrial revolution was done and dusted by the time internal combustion arrived:

    Wiki...
     
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    the first practical internal combustion engine was produced in 1860.
     
  15. Nickelodeon Banned Banned

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    That would be the mid 19th century.
     
  16. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    shutup! :bugeye:

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  17. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    The greeks actually did have a variety of surprisingly advanced gadgetry, like automatic doors and water vessels that automatically refilled if any water was withdrawn. (Would that I could post links...the curse of a n00b.) That is not to mention things like the Antikythera Mechanism, which seems to have been a surprisingly sophisticated analog computer using modern looking gears with triangular teeth. (Until recently it was thought that sort of gear was a modern invention.)
     
  18. w1z4rd Valued Senior Member

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    Religion=Dark Ages
     
  19. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

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    A couple of things to add to the discussion:

    I believe that the cultural advancements necessary for a new mindset have already been elucidated adequately. I will merely add that the sum of the cultural changes resulted in a society which incorporates change at a much faster pace than has ever been witnessed in human history. Humans (all animals really) tend to be somewhat conservative when they can get away with it. It's a much easier existence. Less consumptive of resources. The mind tends towards unconscious behavior. Living the same day over and over and over again. Humans, however, are an adaptive species and have the ability to escape this natural behavior.
    Thankfully.

    Did you know that the Oldowan toolkit persisted virtually unchanged for over half a million years?
    Looked at with this long view, we can see that the opening question of this thread is invalid. The changes that have taken place in human culture have actually transpired at a phenomenal rate.


    Second:
    There are many innovations which led to the rise of the industrial revolution. The steam engine has been mentioned. As has the printing press and the easy dissemination of knowledge (as well as the resulting rise in literacy).
    Another innovation would be firearms. The repeating rifle, specifically.
    Also modern food processing methods (stock yards, meat packing plants, etc.... as well as the rise of chemistry and the advancements in food preservation).

    The list could go on and on and on.
    I'll leave more innovations for other posters to follow. But I will mention one very important discovery.

    The Bessemer Process allowed for cheap mass production of steel without which the industrial revolution would have been practically impossible.


    More like punctuated equilibrium.
     
  20. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    I certainly agree that Bessemer Steel as a major and important advance; however, the industrial revolution began in Britain nearly a century earlier. The industrial revolution was, no doubt, a major factor that led to the demand for steel that prompted Bessemer to develop the process. Benjamin Huntsman's crucible steel might be a better focal point for your argument, since it predated and was very important to the British Industrial Revolution.

    (It is, to me, one of the incongruous facts of history that as the American Revolution as being fought, Britain was already in the throes of the early Industrial Revolution.)
     
  21. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    Communication is the key.

    It took the ideas from many cultures, communicated together, to fuel modern 'Western' technology as it developed in Europe.

    The primary source of the revolution, in my view, was the information obtained by Marco Polo from the Chinese, which he transported back to Europe and disseminated. No, not just the Chinese noodle which they made into Italian spaghetti, but the more substantive information he obtained - rocks that burn.

    For a brief introduction, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Polo

    Until Marco Polo, no one in Europe knew that you could burn certain types of rocks, and not just wood. Marco Polo had observed the Chinese burning rocks, and was astounded. Such rocks were readily available in Europe, yet no one knew that they could burn.

    He also observed the Chinese pulverizing those rocks and mixing it with other readily available chemicals (dried urine, for example), which then were used for military purposes such as to fire rockets at the enemy.

    Upon taking that Chinese technology back to Europe circa 1295 A.D., it was not long before the idea that a rocket propelled projectile (bullet or cannonball) came into existence, completely revolutionizing warfare in Europe. Soon, each country strived for the latest advances, which ultimately shaped and reshaped the many countries in close proximity, which proximity allowed for a rapid communication of each new idea.

    Anyway, that's my two cents worth.
     
  22. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    There are plenty of forces alligned against intellectual advancement. Religion for one. The Vatican prevented the spread of knowledge, especially after the invention of the printing press. Before that, there was the burning of the Library of Alexandria. This sort of thing is still going on today with pseudo-conservatives against funding stem cell research, denying global warming, denying evolution... Also, advanced civilizations tended to kill themselves by overexploiting environmental resources.
     
  23. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    Very interesting. It should be noted that the earliest European reference to black powder and it's composition predates Marco Polo a bit (in 1234, by Roger Bacon in his "De nullitate magiæ"—with the first recipe for making it being written down by him in 1242/*). Still, my knowledge of Marco Polo is pretty limited and he may well have been key to really generating broader interest in gunpowder outside the alchemical community.

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    /* There was also a book called "Liber Ignum Per Comburandum Hostes" (the Book of Fire for Burning Enemies) by Marcus Graecus that may predate these, though the earliest copy that can be proven to have existed was from sometime around 1250.
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