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51

Early hand grenades looked like that: The word "grenade" originated in the Glorious Revolution (1688), where cricket ball-sized iron spheres packed with gunpowder and fitted with slow-burning wicks were first used against the Jacobites in the battles of Killiecrankie and Glen Shiel (Specimen made from glass, French-made in 1740)


41

Architecture: Roman Cement Concrete was widely used throughout antiquity by the Persians, Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans. The Romans technique in creating concrete allowed them to build the Pantheon, Colosseum, aqueducts, and spectacular baths (big ones, awesome ones). Amazingly many structures built with this Roman Cement are still standing. The recipe ...


38

According to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, one of the first steps from a hunter-gatherer society towards civilization is agriculture. While agricultural societies appeared all over the world, the old world had a more suitable environment, especially with regards to the grains and large animals that lived there. The old world had wheat, which is ...


27

Cavalry sabres (a.k.a. Shashkas) were still widely used in the Russian Civil War (1918-1922) and appear in many books on that period. This weapon is primarily associated with Cossacks even though it was standard equipment in the Russian and later Soviet army. The Russian Wikipedia article claims that Shashkas were still used by the cavalry in the Second ...


25

That depends on what you mean by 'socks'. Hesiod (Greece, ~700 bce) recommends that farmers line their boots with felted wool for extra insulation. That wool layer could be considered the first sock, and it was commonly available to people who weren't particularly rich. When the Romans invaded northern Europe (ie, Gaul), they started wearing sewn foot ...


23

It did exist but no one is sure what it was. The making of such was split between different orders and each only knew how to make the next step in the chain. It was delivered via tubes and could be "thrown" towards the enemy. Some of those were man-portable, other were ship bound. Sometimes, you could find it in jars. The best guess is that it was a ...


18

Personally, I don't think anything ever went particularly "wrong" with India. They only fell behind the civilizations of Western Europe, not the rest of the world. So the proper question to ask here is what suddenly went right with heretofore backward Europe. To my mind the answer to this question is clear: The printing press. Nearly overnight Europeans had ...


15

I believe that the last use of sword in Western military were cavalry sabres used in cavalry charges alongside revolvers. Those were used in the Crimean war and in the USA Civil War. So we are talking mid-19th century. After the USA Civil War automatic rifles made cavalry obsolete (or nearly so) so I do not think you will find any more examples. ...


15

It would be very interesting to see a chart of rate of innovation over time in western civilization. Of course, this begs the question of what is "innovation". Do you count number of inventions? Do you give more weight to inventions that would have long lasting significance through history? Or ones that may have been less influential but providing a huge ...


15

The grenades in Michael Borgwardt's answer are probably the earliest European examples, but in China they go much further back. Fireworks based on a bamboo, clay or paper shell filled with an explosive mixture (a precursor of gunpowder) came into use as far back as around 600-700 BC (Tang Dynasty). The Chinese kept improving fireworks and also developed ...


14

Quite the contrary as Rodney Stark pointed out in The Victory of Reason - the Catholic church itself promoted most of the societal conditions that allowed the Middle Class to take hold, and in so doing also promote the nurture of science and industry. Chief among these were personal property rights (stemming from the idea that we were God's stewards) and ...


13

I'm afraid I know nothing about which pre-Columbian cultures had any metalworking, but I can answer why metallurgy was, in 1492, very rare in the Americas but widespread in Eurasia. Paraphrasing liberally from Guns, Germs and Steel, which I happen to be reading at the moment, Native American peoples were largely hunter-gatherers. Metalworking, like any ...


13

The Wikipedia entry on the book is pretty thorough. Guns, Germs, and Steel is definitely controversial, because Diamond is writing from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist, and essentially is arguing that history is if not wholly determined by geography, at least heavily influenced by it. From the Wikipedia entry: Guns, Germs and Steel met with ...


12

All the mathematical works of Hypatia of Alexandria for example were lost. From the secondary sources we do have, she was an amazing mathematician. Her death could be argued as the end of the classical times and the decent into the Dark Ages...


12

No, even according to the report you link the Germans did NOT create DU rounds. It states explicitly, a few pages after the paragraphs you quote, that This is the only German round known to have the restriction "practice firing prohibited." Why* Remember, German uranium was as rofined; it was not "depleted uranium" as we know it. I am skeptical ...


12

I believe the first "programmable" devices in common industrial use were the big industrial power looms in England in the late 18th and early 19th century. The Jacquard loom in 1801 was the first to use punched-cards for its programming. Way over in Ukraine, Russian Semen Korasakov saw the potential of these cards for information storage and retrieval, and ...


12

The Anglo-Zulu war comes to mind. The story of the (fictional) movie Zulu (from 1964) happens during this war, showing the advantage of fighting spears with guns.


12

Your basic premise is incorrect. Email did not develop in tandem with the Internet; the Internet simply made it available to the masses. The use of "electronic mail" actually predates the Internet by a considerable margin. Electronic mail was used on ARPANET as far back as the 70's. The first standards were were proposed as early as 1973 (RFC 561). ...


10

World War One was at the dawn of the modern military age. Military leaders had to adapt to new technologies with new strategies. Near the beginning of the war, soldiers would just stand up out of their trenches and shoot each other. Later, elaborate tactics and new technologies were employed. The battle of Vimy Ridge details the adoption of no less than six ...


10

Computer? The Antikythera mechanism device for computing eclipses. Nothing much like it appears in history until Charles Babbage created his machines in the 1800's. The following BBC special further explores the device. Probing the secrets of the Antikythera Mechanism (Preview) The Antikythera Mechanism as it is known, is regarded as the ...


10

While it is difficult to understand what the monks themselves thought on this matter, there is some material on whether they enjoyed their work, were actually put out of work and if there were protests against the printing press due to this. From: From Gutenberg to the Internet: A Sourcebook on the History of Information Technology, Volume 2 by Jeffrey M. ...


10

As it is, all three are interesting for being completely different methods of achieving a high quality of steel. Equally interesting is that they are each of high quality in different ways. As for Tamahagane, the iron that was available in Japan was actually very poor compared to that found in Europe. It had a characteristically low carbon content, and the ...


10

The argument for Heisenberg being intentionally incompetent is that he made two "incorrect" choices in which path to follow. He selected heavy water as the reactor moderator, even though it is very unusual and requires a big plant to make it. He selected plutonium as the fissile material, even though it doesn't occur in nature and have to be created in ...


9

The Allies never did make a real breakthrough in the West. At the end of the war, they were pushing the German Army back, but never breaking through. The Germans did, against the Allies, but it's a matter of question whether German offensive practices were better than Allied, or Allied defensive practices were worse than German. Given that the British and ...


9

According to wikipedia, Steel has been around since antiquity, but reference to steel weapons can be found in 4th century BC Ibernia, Romans, and in Chinese references during their Warring States era. The steel that we think of today was originally made East Africa by the Haya people over two eons ago, but wouldn't be rediscovered until the Industrial ...


9

Toledo steel is a very good steel, comparable to the best contemporary one. It is based mostly on the content of the material and way of hardening. Damascus is much better, it is based mostly on the way of smithing - folding, beating, folding again,.. repeat a year every day many times a day. With addings during smithing. The precise receipts are not ...


8

The "Global Village" (todays metaphor for the world wide web) comes to my mind, predicted by probably most influential communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. In his book, "The Gutenberg Galaxy" (1962), he basically predicts PC, WorldWideWeb, Wikipedia, Google, social-media, e-commerce everybody uses today in the western world: “The next medium, ...


8

Printing of images in newspapers use halftones to create the various shades of grey in the photos. The resolution of halftones is given in lines per inch (LPI). For standard newsprint, which is rather porous, the maximum LPI is 85 -- any higher than that, the dots bleed and run together. This photograph linked to was published in Current Events, the ...


8

One such example that springs to mind is Japan and the "Black Ships". "Black Ships" was a term that applied to western ships arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th Century. The Portuguese made first contact in 1593 with the establishment of a trade route between Goa and Nagasaki, this is where the term "Black Ships" is thought to originate as the hulls of ...


8

The Spanish invasion of the Aztec Empire, as you mentioned, is one of the best examples. I'd just like to to mention it again, because although the Aztecs eventually fell to the Spanish forces, it wasn't without a stiff fight - indeed, the Spanish probably would have never even gotten a foothold on the continent without some seriously roguish tactics such ...



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