Five Machines That Changed the World
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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The international nature of the historical machines in this book comes through clearly in this list of people from Europe and North America. I am grateful to each of them for assisting me, in one way or another, in writing the book. ...
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The five machines I explore in this book are technologically simple. They are all mechanical, and the basic idea behind each of them is easily conveyed with a single picture. They are scientifically interesting and historically important. They still impact us today and they also leave less obvious but still discernible historical echoes. ...
ONE. BOW AND ARROW
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The bow is one of our oldest inventions. It was developed, we presume, to enhance our ability to hunt prey that was fleeter of foot than our ancestors, or perhaps was too wily or dangerous to approach within spear range. Whatever the reason, the bow proved so successful that it became nearly universal.1 ...
TWO. WATERWHEELS AND WINDMILLS
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I place waterwheels and windmills in the same chapter, counting them as one machine for the purposes of this book. Of course, the engineering requirements of waterwheels and windmills are di
THREE. COUNTERPOISE SIEGE ENGINES
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Ingenium is medieval English vernacular for “an ingenious contrivance.” In those days the word was used to describe siege engines, those weapons of war designed and widely employed to reduce castles to rubble. The crew (and these engines from the Middle Ages required a large crew) were ingeniators—hence, our modern “engineers.” ...
FOUR. PENDULUM CLOCK ANCHOR ESCAPEMENT
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Modern-day workers are slaves to time. They rush to catch the 7:42 train or the 6:55 bus to their places of employment, then “clock in” to work and “clock out” when they leave. In the evening they watch one variant or another of the game of football on TV at a preordained time. ...
FIVE. CENTRIFUGAL GOVERNOR
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The centrifugal governor (fig. 5.1) is indelibly associated with large industrial machinery, and, in particular, with old-fashioned steam engines. The two flyballs whir around and catch the eye, so that in the confusion of moving parts and metallic noises we see the governor, and pick it out visually ...
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I would like to try to assess the inventiveness of the people who developed our five machines, but before doing this it would be useful to place their contributions in context, both technologically and historically. So first I will summarize the whys and whens: why I consider each machine to be a world changer ...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 52 halftones, 23 line drawings
Publication Year: 2007