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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84
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7answers
24k views

Did Bill Gates steal the GUI concept from Steve Jobs?

The Jobs movie alleged that Bill Gates swiped the idea of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) on a personal computer (PC) from Steve Jobs. Can anyone explain to me the exact story on what happened in a ...
75
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8answers
7k 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 ...
71
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3answers
17k 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 ...
59
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4answers
8k views

How has hearing loss been avoided in war?

Guns are very loud, even in an open field. In a trench or inside a city, I can only imagine they would be louder, and quite capable of causing hearing loss. How have armies ensured that their troops ...
54
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9answers
4k 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 ...
52
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14answers
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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 ...
49
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5answers
7k 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 what became the first "Native Americans" to the American continent), why did the Old World end up ...
44
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10answers
7k views

Are there any examples of technologies have been lost over time? [closed]

I've read before about various technologies being lost over time, either due to war or famine or just time. I'm interested in knowing more about what sorts of things have been lost, and how. I've ...
34
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6answers
7k views

Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. Fermat ...
33
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5answers
10k views

Why did the grip-centered viking shield fall out of use relative to the kite shields?

Did Normans have battle advantage with strapped kite shields over Saxons and Vikings with their grip-centered shield style of fighting? What often comes to my mind are battles like Hastings (1066). ...
33
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4answers
8k views

Did this “sledge rigged like a sloop” vehicle ever exist, or was it an invention of Jules Verne?

In Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, the main character Phileas Fogg misses his train in the American north and ends up hitching a ride on a curious invention, as described here: There ...
31
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1answer
4k views

How much were telegraphists in the 1950s paid?

I'm doing some research for a small project, and am having some difficulty finding information on telegraphists as a whole. The information I'm trying to find is rather specific, and I can't seem to ...
30
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8answers
14k 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 ...
29
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7answers
24k 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 ...
29
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2answers
7k 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.
24
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1answer
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 ...
23
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8answers
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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 ...
23
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2answers
3k views

What evidence is there of the vision aids people used before the invention of eyeglasses in about 1286?

The Wikipedia article on glasses says ‘scattered evidence exists for use of vision aid devices in Greek and Roman times’ but only cites the example of Nero’s emerald. This article on Magnifying ...
22
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2answers
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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 ...
22
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1answer
731 views

Is there an accepted explanation for multiple independent “cradles of civilization”?

Human history begins with millions of years of hunter-gathering and lithic technology: The Paleolithic ... is ... distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools ... and covers ...
21
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3answers
3k 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 ...
20
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4answers
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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 ...
19
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8answers
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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
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1answer
5k 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 ...
18
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10answers
29k views

Are steam engines still in regular use anywhere in the world?

Are there any countries in which steam engines have a regular purpose, or are still dominant on the railway? When did they officially fade out of use in the western world? In Australia at least, they ...
18
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5answers
1k 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 ...
18
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11answers
4k 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 specialities of computer science which lend themselves to the ...
18
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2answers
858 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 ...
17
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7answers
9k 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 ...
15
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2answers
1k views

Why did the Mongols destroy the library during the siege of Baghdad in 1258?

For all what we know the Mongolian Empire was not simply a collection of brainless brutes, but they had intense knowledge of their opponents: descriptions, maps, information about the technology, ...
14
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2answers
5k views

Why didn't the Incan Empire use iron?

They could mine copper and silver, but not iron. Was there a reason to not use such materials to build advanced mining tools to work with Iron? What was their main limitation? Couldn't they build ...
14
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2answers
16k 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.
14
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1answer
2k views

What is the source for this Goering quote on radar?

On page 194 of Jonathan Trigg's The Defeat of the Luftwaffe, he claims Hermann Goering said: I have frequently taken a look inside such sets. It does not look all that imposing, just some wires ...
14
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2answers
374 views

Apart from the Inuit, and candlefish on the northwest coast, did pre-Columbian America have lamps or candles?

Lamps have been around in the Old World since the Palaeolithic (one was found in the Lascaux cave). Candles are thought to have originated in the Bronze Age, but were certainly used by ancient Greeks, ...
13
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5answers
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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 ...
13
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4answers
4k 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 ...
13
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2answers
566 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
13
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3answers
666 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 ...
13
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1answer
1k 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 ...
12
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8answers
2k views

What went wrong with India's scientific development as a society?

India had been among the "leaders" in scientific research spanning Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry and others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
12
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5answers
3k views

When and how did the West lose its dependency on the USSR for Titanium?

This question was prompted by another one. A long time ago, before I well-documented my internet research, I looked into the history of Titanium, its procurement, refinement, and work-ability. I ...
12
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4answers
12k 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. ...
12
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3answers
2k 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 ...
12
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7answers
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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 the ...
12
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5answers
5k 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 ...
11
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7answers
3k views

Why was the Aeolipile not put to practical use in classical antiquity?

The Aeolipile was a simple mechanical device that generated kinetic energy from steam. Its invention is attributed to the Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century AD. Source: Aeolipile With the ...
11
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2answers
802 views

What was the other 99% that PARC didn't show to Apple?

I was reading this article and found this part: The irony was that when they left we still had shown the like only 1% of what PARC was doing but it was enough that they got really excited and ...
11
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1answer
693 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 ...
11
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3answers
1k 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
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9answers
3k 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 ...