By Robert Friedel
Why does know-how swap through the years, how does it switch, and what distinction does it make? during this sweeping, formidable examine 1000 years of Western adventure, Robert Friedel argues that technological swap comes principally throughout the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted trust that issues may be performed in a greater approach. What Friedel calls the "culture of development" is manifested each day within the methods humans perform their initiatives in life--from tilling fields and elevating teenagers to waging war.Improvements should be ephemeral or lasting, and one person's development won't consistently be seen as such by way of others. Friedel stresses the social approaches in which we outline what advancements are and choose which advancements will final and in an effort to now not. those approaches, he emphasizes, have created either winners and losers in history.Friedel offers a chain of narratives of Western know-how that commence within the 11th century and stretch into the twenty-first. prevalent figures from the historical past of invention are joined by way of others--the Italian preacher who defined the 1st eyeglasses, the dairywomen displaced from their regulate over cheesemaking, and the little-known engineer who first instructed a grand tower to Gustav Eiffel. Friedel lines expertise from the plow and the printing press to the interior combustion engine, the transistor, and the gap go back and forth. Friedel additionally reminds us that religion in development can occasionally have terrible results, as greater weaponry makes struggle ever extra lethal and the force for making improvements to people may end up in eugenics or even genocide. the main finished try to inform the tale of Western know-how in lots of years, engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, A tradition of development records the ways that the force for development has formed our glossy international.
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Extra resources for A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western Millennium
This pattern meant that the moldboard, turning the soil over to one side, always turned toward the center. Thus the strip was given a camber, a bit like a road, easing excess water over to the edges. In the drier south, this would have been unhelpful, but in the much wetter north, it helped to avoid waterlogging of the ﬁelds, while retaining water in shallow ditches between strips. ’’ This refers to a loosely deﬁned pattern, with myriad variations all over Europe, in which the ownership of land was generally in the hands of a relatively small number of landlords and the working of the land was distributed among peasants who had varying degrees of freedom, rents, obligations, and opportunities.
Whereas in the early Middle Ages, the Latin word labor was used in a kind of disparaging way to refer to work with little skill attached to it, such as plowing, by 1000 it and related terms come to be associated with acquisition and productivity. In the same way, though more ambiguously, laboratores or workers themselves began to acquire more value in the perceived scheme of things, eventually being characterized as one of the three pillars on which all medieval society depended, the others being the clergy and the warrior class.
The primary technical signiﬁcance of the power dam lay in its making large and variable streams into useful sources of power. The ﬂoat mill and the bridge mill were to a certain degree simply expedient ways of getting waterpower from larger rivers, but their size and power were necessarily limited and they were particularly vulnerable to ﬂoods as well debris, tra‰c, and other hindrances. The development of techniques for damming streams and rivers and building canals for power purposes drove European hydraulic technology down directions unknown even to the great Roman aqueduct builders.