The branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.

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53
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3answers
9k views

When did bombs actually look like this?

I guess most are familiar with the cartoonish "bomb icon". It is used to warn of metaphorical or literal explosive danger and shows a deep black sphere with a smaller cylinder attached. That is where ...
52
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5answers
2k views

How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
47
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9answers
2k views

History of scientific regression [closed]

Throughout history, humans have made many subtle and many substantial scientific advancements. Humans have explored, examined, learned, applied and at times seemingly "forgotten" and/or were unable ...
39
votes
11answers
7k views

When were swords last used in European warfare?

Specifically, I'm interested in the last documented occurrence of swords (of any sort) being used as a primary weapon by infantrymen or cavalrymen in Western warfare. That is, when did any European or ...
30
votes
5answers
3k views

What are the factors that caused the new world civilizations to be less technologically advanced than the old world?

Assuming they started at the same point (maybe the split of the continents or the migration of the first "Native Americans" to the American continent), why did the Old World end up developing faster? ...
25
votes
2answers
3k views

When and where did socks become common?

To be clear, I mean the socks you wear on your feet, to insulate you form your shoes/boots/other footwear. By common, I mean easily available to the masses, rather than just to the rich.
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Did Heisenberg undermine the German atomic bomb by deliberately hiding his expertise from the Nazis?

Source. In his massive book Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb, Thomas Powers says that Heisenberg, who never became a Nazi and balked at the immorality of building a bomb for ...
19
votes
7answers
9k views

How do Tamahagane, Damascus, and Toledo Steel compare?

Has a comparison been made of the qualities of Samurai (Tamahagane), Damascus and Toledo steel (rather than the swords)? I've seen claims for each being better than the others. If it's on topic, I'm ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the name of the theory that says an early discovery can stop technological development?

Some time ago I read a claim that an early discovery can lead to a great scientific stagnation. The example given was the Chinese porcelain, that resolved all the known problems, and stopped the ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

To what extent did Native American cultures develop metalworking for tools and weapons?

When Europeans started showing up in the New World, the native cultures were technologically far behind. Many still used stone tools: North American tribes used flint, while some Mesoamerican cultures ...
17
votes
3answers
696 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...
15
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8answers
1k views

Intersection Between Computer Science and History?

I am a computer science undergrad with a great interest in history. Lately I have been asking myself if there are general aspects or specialties of computer science which lend themselves to the study ...
15
votes
2answers
5k views

When did steel first appear? [closed]

When in history do we first have record of steel being used as a material? I am also interested in both its initial purpose and when it was first used in weapon making.
15
votes
1answer
2k views

How did the monks whose job was to copy books react to Gutenberg's printing press?

It's typical to see people whose job it is to perform a manual task to - collectively - object when a new technology is introduced which makes their job obsolete (as the quintessential example, see ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that the Catholic Church slowed innovation during the Middle Ages?

I often hear that the rate of innovation was very high during ancient times in Greece and the Roman empire. I've also heard that the rate of innovation was reduced once the Catholic Church gained ...
14
votes
5answers
549 views

What was “Greek fire”?

What was Greek fire? I read in my history book that it was a flamethrower. But in certain fantasy movies it's been portrayed as something similar to dynamite. What was it dynamite or what? Did it ...
13
votes
4answers
988 views

Why was decimal time unsuccessful?

Under the metric system (and later SI), units of weight can be related to each other based on multiples of ten (e.g. 1 metric tonne = 1,000 kg = 1,000 × 1,000 g). Likewise with length (e.g. 1 ...
12
votes
2answers
268 views

What kind of device is pictured on this Roman mosaic from Villa Tellaro, Sicily?

Based on numismatic evidence, this is dated in the second half of the fourth century CE
12
votes
3answers
363 views

The Purpose of Mystery Object 40.9.11

In the summer of 1915, a wireless telegraph station in Sayville, Long Island owned by the German company Telefunken was caught sending covert commands to U-Boats patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. The ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

What new technology/tactics allowed the breakthrough of the trenches in WW I western front?

Reading the answers to this question about WW1 Western Front, it appears that breaking through the trenches was a very difficult task to do. How did the Allies finally make it? Was it the invention of ...
10
votes
3answers
654 views

What Was the State of German Tank Design In Between the World Wars?

I am reading about the Spanish Civil War in a book by Antony Beevor entitled "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939". According to Beevor while the nationalists were able to control ...
10
votes
3answers
472 views

Was the German Empire responsible for the advancement of German technology?

After the creation of the German Empire in 18 January 1871, there was a boom of advancement in Germany. Especially in chemistry, motors and electricity. At the same time Germany quickly grew as an ...
10
votes
4answers
549 views

Is there any evidence to support the claim that the US Strategic Defense Initiative played any significant role in undermining the USSR?

I have been reading Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson, and one of the things that stuck me was a quote by Soviet hydrogen bomb creator Andrei Sakharov who was released from political imprisonment ...
10
votes
1answer
288 views

How accurate and detailed were geographical maps created and updated by the Romans?

Knowledge is power, and having superior geographical knowledge vs. your imperialistic enemies and competitors was probably a big advantage in the middle ages. Some specific examples would be knowledge ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

What is the best historical example of conflict between two cultures with differing levels of technology? [closed]

Let me start with some background, in fiction authors like to explore situations where the human race meets another civilization. As a rule of thumb both races in one way or another - sometimes after ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

The main disadvantage of bolt action is that one has to remove the right hand from the trigger which leads to slower rate of fire. Neither lever nor pump have this problem. Rate of fire was viewed as ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What devices used computer-like programs in industrial era?

As possibly some of you remember early computers had very small human-machine interface and coding programs was done by cards like this one: or a tape like these: This invention of controlling ...
9
votes
1answer
190 views

1850s steel technology advance before the Bessemer converter

The Bessemer converter is often cited as the critical invention causing a breakout in the production of cheap steel and enabling the industrial revolution. However, I just put together this chart ...
9
votes
1answer
420 views

Did France & Italy continue to develop and manufacture sophisticated military hardware once under German control?

Both France and Italy were designing and building advanced vehicle engines, motorcyles, aero engines and airframes through the 1930s and early 1940s. In the case of those advanced economies of ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Who were the Wright brothers' competitors?

I heard that there was a person who was sponsored by the government to make the first flying airplane. The Wright brothers beat him to it and this made him really depressed and he gave up his career. ...
8
votes
5answers
591 views

The Needham Question: What stunted China's technological and proto-scientific advancement?

According to Joseph Needham Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at ...
8
votes
2answers
852 views

Did Germany produce ammunition with depleted uranium?

Albert Speer in a footnote in Inside the Third Reich states, "During 1940 1200 metric tons of uranium ore had been seized in Belgium." Later in the book, Speer states, "In the summer of ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Did the Chinese Develop Steam Engines Prior to the 17th Century?

I vaguely remember seeing a documentary on the history channel that was discussion on ancient Chinese technology. The basic theme of the program was that China developed many industrial technologies ...
8
votes
1answer
93 views

Where would I find Graham Bell's kite experiment data?

I'm looking for experimental data (lift, drag, pull, etc...) of Graham Bell's tetrahedral kite. As he was a scientist and inventor I thought that he might have written some quantitative data down on ...
8
votes
2answers
253 views

What role did the media have in the outcome of the “Arab Spring” revolt in Tunisia

What was the role of the media in the outcome of the revolution in Tunisia? Throughout the revolution we saw the role of the media was extremely important, what was the role of the media during the ...
7
votes
2answers
166 views

Were new forms of communication and media usually condemned similar to how television/video games are now?

I'm sure anyone who is reading this has read at least an article, blog, or book condemning the consumption of television and video games as harmful to children, the behavior of teenagers, intelligence ...
7
votes
2answers
200 views

How is the photography printing on newpaper is possible in the WW2 era?

How is the photography printing on newpaper is possible in the WW2 era? For example, how is the photo on the newpaper at the below link is possible especially on HD quality? ...
7
votes
3answers
584 views

When was the earliest recorded battle with the usage of gunpowder as an offensive weapon?

When was the earliest recorded battle (on script) with the usage of gunpowder (in any form) as an offensive weapon?
6
votes
2answers
164 views

How would a 16-17th Century European Rapier have been made?

I've done a little reading on sand and permanent casting but a rapier seems like it may be thin for that kind of manufacture. What methods and tools would have been used to make it? (Please provide ...
6
votes
1answer
188 views

Which floating-point representation did Konrad Zuse's Z1 use?

Wikipedia notes: "The Z1 was a 22-bit floating point value adder and subtracter". But the specific format used is nowhere to be seen.
6
votes
1answer
191 views

British way in construction of AFV

Why have British tanks not changed very much? The USA have moved from the VSS, VVSS, HVSS (Lee and Sherman) suspensions to the torsion bar suspension (T26 and Patton family), USSR - from twin bogies ...
5
votes
2answers
259 views

Travelling by a Viking ship

What it was like to travel on a Viking ship back then? Please, focus on these points: How long it would take for a Viking raider group to get to their favourite destinations using a Viking warship? ...
5
votes
1answer
139 views

Are there any examples of people being able to predict the consequences of communication revolutions?

I often read predictions about future technologies from analysis companies like Gartner Group. These studies often strike me as awfully linear in their view on development. I would, therefore, like to ...
5
votes
1answer
133 views

Who is responsible for the oldest known calendar?

What is the oldest known calendar? Where exactly was it developed? Who was responsible for its creation?
5
votes
2answers
162 views

Did the break up of AT & T in 1984 lead to technological innovation?

Are there examples of technologies developed since 1984 that would not have been likely to be developed had the Bell system stayed intact rather than being broken up by the US government? UPDT: To ...
5
votes
2answers
215 views

Why weren't R-4 helicopters used in the European theatre in 1944-5?

Early helicopters it seems were deployed by the American military in WW2 in the Burma and China theatres, and in the South Pacific. Their principal use would appear to have been small scale rescue ...
4
votes
5answers
393 views

Why did email use develop in tandem with the internet, rather than other technologies?

During the 1980s, I envisioned a (primitive) version of email that would come off telex machines. That is, a person would sit down at a keyboard, create a document, store it on a cartridge, stick the ...
4
votes
5answers
183 views

How common is “decades ahead of his time” in real history?

The idea of a super-scientist who invents things that no contemporary is able to equal because he's just that smart is a common trope in works of fiction, especially of the sci-fi or superhero ...
4
votes
1answer
114 views

Row for powers of 10 on 1950's French typewriter keyboards

In the movie Populaire, 1950's-era French typewriter keyboards are shown with dedicated "1", "10", "100", "1...", "10...", "100...", "1M", and "10M" keys on the top row. Was there a dedicated type ...
4
votes
1answer
738 views

Did Marco Polo write about or bring back fireworks from his travels?

I have read a lot of anecdotal accounts claiming that Marco Polo was "impressed" with fireworks he saw in Cathay, and other stories that he "brought back fire crackers" or "introduced gunpowder" to ...