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Major innovations that have changed history

By Surflover ·
Bricks... Just so everyone will understand I'm not just talking about "high tech" innovations, I though a good place to start would be bricks.

They (and dressed stone) were the fundamental material which allowed the creation of large public structures... The Mayans built incredibly intricate palaces and roads, the Egyptians built the great pyramids (which BTW, we can't reproduce either the Mayan roads or the Pyramids to those tolerances with our current technology)... bricks were the key issue that cause the Hebrews to revolt from the Pharoh in Egypt... the Romans used bricks and stone to build roads and aqueducts which allowed them to conquer most of the known world at the time... which in turn spread a common language to the peoples who were conquered (Koine Greek)... which in turn provided a vehicle for the spread of Christianity...

And eventually, with the advent of the F4 Phantom in the 1960's, we proved that with enough power, even a brick can fly :^O

What innovations do you feel are significant?

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I would say that...

by anykey??? In reply to Major innovations that ha ...

cement or concrete whatever you may call it, is right up there with bricks.the romans were instumental in the creation of the stuff and now we can't get enough of the stuff. In the area I am in it is up to almost $100 a cubic yard which is absolutely unbelievable.

We can match the egyptyians in quality and tolerances, the problem we have is that we can't enslave thousands of skilled craftsmen to get it done.

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Yes concrete is a good one

by Surflover In reply to I would say that...

I almost included it in my post as it was essential for the Roman aquaducts... and as to the tolerances, if you include the accuracy of the compas alignment, we can't reproduce what the egyptians did, and one of the Mayan roads has such small tolerances in the joints that it (supposedly per the discovery channel) can't be duplicated today...

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by Absolutely In reply to I would say that...

Negative numbers are fairly obvious to anyone in debt or extending credit, or anyone trying to describe both an aqueduct (or anything below ground) and a building (or anything else above ground) to the same emperor (or fellow highwayman). But the idea of symbolically representing the absence of value made all of quantitative science possible.

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I agree, Abs

by In reply to Zero

I think zero was an Arab invention which originally might have come from India, and it arrived in Europe courtesy of the Muslim invasion of Spain in the early middle ages.

However, the Greeks seemed to get on pretty well without it, maths, science and all, and if the great library at Alexandria hadn't been burnt to the ground around the time of the establishment of Islam, we'd still have been able to see all this for ourselves today.

But it does make you wonder how we got on without it before the Arabs!


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Marco Polo travelled to China

by jardinier In reply to Major innovations that ha ...

where gunpowder was used for fireworks.

Marco brought gunpower back to the west, where it was used as a weapon, thus enabling various European countries to colonise and plunder half of the known and unknown world.

If the early settlers in America had only the same weapons as the indigenous peoples, then the injuns might just have kept the cowboys at bay.

Great discussion topic, by the way.

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Thanks Jul!

by Surflover In reply to Marco Polo travelled to C ...

I think this one will be fun if we get a lot of participation :-)

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Yes, but hopefully at least as educational

by jardinier In reply to Thanks Jul!

as it is funny.

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The pyramids at Giza

by jardinier In reply to Major innovations that ha ...

I am not at all convinced that the Great Pyramids could have been built with the known technology and available materials of the time, nor could they be reproduced today without the original as a guide.

It is not widely known that the Great Pyramid was originally finished in polished stone to reflect the sun. Regrettably all but a small portion of the outer casing was removed and used for building other structures.

Here is a little information about the Great Pyramid.

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Cheops (Khufu) and all that

by In reply to The pyramids at Giza

The pyramid complex at Giza, and I suppose pyramids in general, were certainly a terrific achievement for their time, however they were made. I especially love the Arab proverb always quoted with them; puts all of us securely in our places.

However, it still remains a mystery about what they were actually used for. The discovery (when they were initially explored several centuries ago) of burial chambers and empty sarcophagi naturally pointed to them as tombs in the first instance.

Many other theories for their use have since been offered over the years, some wholly fanciful, others more serious, and while they will always hold a certain amount of mystery for us today, I fail to see how they have changed our lives in any innovative way, Julian.

Their own structure was definitely innovative for the time, but more than that it's hard to see. And if they are indeed tombs, then where are all the other pyramids of the kings and pharoahs of ancient Egypt?

The number so far unearthed, and the number of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, comes nowhere near the number of kings generally listed on the Egyptian King Lists over nearly thirty dynasties.

Which means, either there's still a helluva lot to discover under the sands of Egypt, or the pyramids were used for something we don't yet know about.

There are far too few of them to have been tombs.


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The Babbage Machine

by jmgarvin In reply to Major innovations that ha ...

It gave me my job ;-) Computing has moved us forward more in the past 50 years than any other innovation!

On that note: Why does it seem like only dead white guys invent anything?

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