Questions tagged [technology]

Tag for questions on the application of theoretical or scientific knowledge for a practical objective, including methodologies, techniques, or processes.

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Why did water stored on premodern ships "go brackish" or "go bad" while at sea?

I have read in several Napoleonic historical fiction novels that water stored on ships would somehow spoil over time. The water is described as completely unpalatable if not undrinkable, and alcohol (...
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4 votes
1 answer
180 views

Who was Professor Henri Andre and what did he publish?

Looking at the history of electrochemical batteries, I came across this article from NASA where it says: In the late 1920s, French Professor Henri André finally made the first practical silver-zinc ...
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28 votes
2 answers
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When did horseback riding start? Are Doosheh cave petroglyphs authentic and correctly dated?

I am trying to reconcile 3 answers I have got so far. Perhaps there are more. My main question is about when horseback riding started. In Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, UK), the information panel in the ...
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0 votes
0 answers
60 views

Where can I find an historically accurate ordinary items database for dungeon-stocking and art

I swear I had found in the comments of one of Matthew Colville's "stocking the dungeon" videos a link to an enormous database of accurate lists of ordinary items that list REAL items that ...
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2 votes
0 answers
280 views

Did the Soviet Union or China participate in the light bulb cartel? If not, in what ways did they differ and how long did their bulbs last?

The Phoebus cartel was a well known scheme to fix the standard lifespan of incandescent lightbulbs that arose at the beginning of the 20th century. See Spectrum.ieee.org. Although not implemented for ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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Why do the bases of these pillars have grooves in them?

While exploring the ruins of the city of Perga we saw many things that looked like this: It looks like the base of a column (though maybe it is a capital?). I am curious why there is a radial groove ...
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1 vote
2 answers
222 views

Is Jacques Le Goff's statement about medieval labor mechanization not leading to qualitative progress true?

Jacques Le Goff said this in his book "Medieval Civilization 400-1500" on pages 200-201. I would like to know if modern historians agree with these statements of Jacques le Goff and why: ...
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5 votes
1 answer
339 views

What percentage of US households had electricity and telephones in 1940?

I'm trying to find a published source giving the percent of U.S. households having electricity and percent having telephones in 1940 (+/- a year or two). Not interested in the rural vs city divide per ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
197 views

Origin of barber/surgeons: did it have to do with tools?

Although today it sounds absurd that someone who shaved men and I guess also cut hair would be entrusted to performing medical procedures, is it possible that few people had the tools or the ability ...
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3 votes
1 answer
358 views

Was "leather" really a technology introduced by Europeans to the Plains Indians?

I was watching a university lecture about the Comanche called "Nomads in the Tribal Zone: Conflict and Compromise in 18th Century New Mexico". The lecturer said that leather was one of the ...
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27 votes
4 answers
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How to explain the apparent discrepancy in the use of papyrus vs. clay tablets between Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia?

Nowadays, the papyrus plant apparently thrives relatively well in certain sections of the Tigris-Euphrates system. With that in mind, one naturally wonders why in ancient times the Sumerians and ...
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9 votes
2 answers
3k views

What was the first instance of native Americans using gunpowder weapons in battle and did they ever make their own powder?

I am afraid to ask this question too broadly but I would be very happy to get answers that included conflicts not just in the Americas. For example, India had superior rockets to those of the British ...
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4 votes
1 answer
994 views

Have there been "mechanical paintings" in real life?

I'm currently playing a delightful little game called "Creaks". In it the there are "mechanical paintings". The idea is that it's like a regular painting, but you can wind it up ...
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5 votes
0 answers
89 views

What method was used to create book illustrations in late 1800s/early 1900s?

There were (and are) many processes for producing printed images that were used in the 1800s, mostly variants of engraving, etching and lithography. Early books used woodcut images, which are usually ...
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2 votes
2 answers
265 views

Were there clay printing presses in the bronze age?

I'm no lithographer, but it seems to me that making a die cast out of metal, wood or stone, which could be pressed in to clay tablets to produce copies of its textual contents, would be easier than ...
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3 votes
1 answer
289 views

What key technologies allowed construction of the Gutenberg printing press?

First, what are the key technologies required in the construction of the Gutenberg printing press? According to Wikipedia, the key technology necessary is the screw press Given the answer to the above,...
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12 votes
1 answer
2k views

When did fluorescent lights become common in Europe?

In the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual, one suggestion for interfering with radio transmissions in occupied Europe is: Damaging insulation on any electrical equipment tends to create radio ...
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16 votes
3 answers
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What was the device that general Birdwood was using in the "Gallipoli" TV series?

Since this is a question about historical detail, I think it suits more this site than Movies SE. The miniseries Gallipoli tells the story of the invasion on that peninsula during the Great War. I ...
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1 vote
3 answers
280 views

Why didn't Chiang mention technological self-reliance?

In China's Destiny & Chinese Economic Theory, Chiang Kai-Shek wrote that: The two most important ways to understand and utilize man's nature are: First, to preserve the inherited ethics of the ...
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7 votes
1 answer
626 views

Were blue-tinted glasses prevalent in Victorian England and, if so, why?

Whenever I happen to read Chesterton, Conan-Doyle or some other British writers of the era, there will occasionally be mentioned people wearing blue-tinted spectacles. Chesterton especially, in his ...
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2 votes
2 answers
278 views

When did households become electrified?

The first households were supplied with electricity in the 1880s (from wikipedia). I think by around 1950 most urban households in the US had electricity. Rural households got there a few years later? ...
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56 votes
1 answer
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What fueled the street lights in 13th-century Cordoba?

Córdoba, Spain is often said to have had street lights in its Muslim period, which ended in 1236. How did those street lights work? In Lawrence of Arabia, Prince Faisal was dramatized as having said ...
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-4 votes
2 answers
263 views

Why did mass production have to wait until the Industrial Revolution?

We're generally told that mass production and the Industrial Revolution go hand in hand, that the Industrial Revolution gave us the miracle of complex tools made of identical, interchangeable parts ...
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3 votes
0 answers
110 views

Who was responsible for the correct production of a Mesopotamian 'cubit rod' and whose fingers where used as the standard?

Who was responsible for the correct production of a Mesopotamian 'cubit rod' and whose fingers where used as the standard? Wikipedia notes that the standards changed but gives no source of these ...
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30 votes
3 answers
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Where did the archived discussions in Google Groups come from?

I was sifting through old messages in the Google Groups rec.games.chess when a thought popped up-where did all of these messages, from the '80s and '90s, come from? To be specific, the question is ...
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3 votes
1 answer
259 views

Why does the US have many top-level web domains? [closed]

Why does the US have top-level domains like .gov, .mil and others, while other nations can only use second level domains for their government agencies? It might seem an easy question, but I think it ...
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6 votes
2 answers
920 views

When was the first full length book sent over telegraph?

When was the first full length book sent over telegraph? or What was the longest message sent over telecommunications before 1900?
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6 votes
1 answer
233 views

What kind of suspension did Roman carrucae have?

The German Wikipedia on post coaches states that the Roman carrucae (there described as a Reisewagen, something like travelling vehicle) already had suspension and a passenger cabin. I tried to find ...
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2 votes
0 answers
249 views

What did people do about kerosene lamp fires?

In the late nineteenth century, kerosene lamps were widely used for illumination. They were effective and affordable, though had the nontrivial disadvantage of being a significant fire hazard; a lamp ...
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1 vote
1 answer
779 views

Did the 1st Marine Division use the M3 carbine on Okinawa?

I wanted to know if the 1st Marine Division used the M3 infrared sniper carbine on Okinawa during World War II.
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26 votes
8 answers
6k views

Before television sets became commonplace, did people generally watch movies only once?

As I understand it, home television sets first became commercially available in the US in 1938 and grew in popularity throughout the 40s and 50s. Before people had televisions, did they have a way of ...
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54 votes
4 answers
7k views

What do the phone number suffixes J, M, R, W in 1940 New York phone book mean?

Browsing through the Staten Island, NY telephone directory of January 1940, I found that certain phone numbers were printed with a suffix J, M, R or W. What do these mean? I've marked a few of them in ...
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9 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is Charles Babbage referring to when he talks about the 'College of Laputa'?

In On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, what is Charles Babbage referring to when talking about the College of Laputa in the following extract: ...Nor has the wild imagination of the ...
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7 votes
2 answers
331 views

What made California Indian baskets so good?

"California Indians were among the world's most sophisticated basket makers", according to Steven Hackel in Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis. Descriptions of the baskets emphasize the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
122 views

What triggered the acceleration in human advancement? [closed]

If you look back 100,000+ years humans were living in caves. They lived in caves for millennia. They used the same stone tools for millennia. They painted the same wall paintings for millennia. The ...
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3 votes
1 answer
313 views

Did the Nazi Army have a telephone conversation pattern?

The film "Valkyrie" (2008) depicts that while Stauffenberg was on his way to Berlin, Friedrich Fromm called Keitel to ask him about the rumors circulating in Berlin about Hitler's death. Fromm to ...
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2 votes
2 answers
683 views

How can there be a "final edition" of a morning paper, in the morning?

A US television episode from 1957 has the following scene, set in a hotel restaurant in what is clearly the morning, as he is eating breakfast and it looks brightly lit: Person: "The morning paper, ...
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48 votes
4 answers
19k views

Why did the Germans use the Enigma machine rather than the far superior "Lorenz" cipher machine?

Basically, the only good thing about the "Enigma" cipher machine was its name. Other than that, it was grossly inferior to the "Lorenz" one, apparently only used by some of the main, top-ranking ...
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4 votes
4 answers
583 views

Did anyone interweave blue and red threads in order to give the illusion of purple cloth before purple dye became cheap?

The wikipedia article on purple contains nothing on this. Also, why did the ancients not simply mix red and blue dye together to make purple?
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15 votes
3 answers
3k views

When was the first electrical intra-battlefield communication?

When was the first time a commander used, for example, the telegraph to communicate with and coordinate different parts of the same battlefield? I know that the telegraph was used extensively for ...
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30 votes
2 answers
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Why did Persia adopt the movable-type printing so late?

According to Iranica, the first books in Persian characters were published in Leiden in 1639, almost 200 years after Gutenberg's invention, and in Asia it was used even before that. Given that Persia ...
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2 votes
3 answers
660 views

Did people in the late 1800s and earlier really think that there would be, or already exist, "mechanical men"?

I've very often been wondering about how people used to think "back in the day" about all kinds of technical things. For example, once it was common knowledge that factories existed, and most people ...
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0 votes
3 answers
503 views

Any examples when one civilization/country got technology from another and after due to lack of knowledge lost it

I am wondering if there where actual cases when one civilization/country got advanced technology from another and due to lack of knowledge lost it. By advanced technology I mean that it was advanced ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
2k views

When did the number of motor driven vehicles surpass the number of horse driven vehicles in Paris, London, Berlin?

What exact year (or the closest approximation) did the number of motor driven vehicles surpass the number of horse driven vehicles (including the single horseman) on the streets of Paris?
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6 votes
0 answers
614 views

How did Europeans dye their garments black around 1800?

It is said budgetary restrictions made for example Lützower and Brunswickers chose black as their uniform colour. Since no state would provide funds for the equipment they brought old uniforms or ...
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5 votes
0 answers
253 views

Why did the UK use hewn stone cubes for homes far more often than France?

Why did the UK use hewn stone cubes (ashlar masonry) for homes far more often than France in the previous centuries? It would be rare to find this kind of rustic stone (rubble masonry ) in the UK, ...
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-6 votes
1 answer
228 views

Is there any evidence of modern technology today that has been rediscovered? [closed]

Is there any evidence of modern technology or high population today that has been rediscovered? The earth has frozen over multiple times surely there is an example like this. For example computer ...
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24 votes
1 answer
7k views

Why did quill pens persist until the early 19th century despite the capacity to make metal dip pens?

I recently toured Jefferson's Monticello and I was struck during the tour of the library by the description of some of the challenges that Jefferson faced using quill pens. This seemed particularly ...
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1 vote
1 answer
126 views

Which historical developments led to mankind becoming ingenious towards todays exponential growth? [closed]

I want to ask pretty much the question in the title with some side notes/hints for the context: I don't mean first tools created by homo sapiens, I mean which societal or geographical developments ...
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6 votes
1 answer
486 views

What was the typical speed of a tramp steamship?

What was the typical speed of a tramp steamship in their heyday? I mean cruising speed, not flank speed; the figure you would divide into distance to see how long it would take to travel between ports....
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