Humanity is constantly coming up with something new to make life easier and expand the boundaries of possibilities. We do not even notice some inventions, meanwhile they noticeably affect us. But there are large and obvious inventions in our history that allowed civilization to move to the next stage of its development. We will tell you about the most significant discoveries that really changed our world.
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Wheel, Neolithic times
When exactly this important invention was made remains a mystery. Ancient engineers performed a real miracle! The first wheels were created from a single piece of wood, the oldest similar products were found on the territory of modern Slovenia.
A wheel that is 5350 years old was found 20 kilometers from Ljubljana. Scientists came to the conclusion that this product was at one time part of a kind of carriage. Much later, lightweight products appeared, with spokes inside the disc.
Slightly younger wheels, also made of wood, were found in Syria, on the territory of Mesopotamia. Archaeologists found ancient elements during the excavation of the settlement of Al-Haseke, these wheels were created between 3300-3200 BC. Apparently, wheels appeared in Europe and Asia at the same time. But there is a popular opinion that it was in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, that this discovery was made.
The importance of wheels for civilization can hardly be overestimated. People got the opportunity to transport goods and themselves much easier and faster. Thanks to the wheel, military tactics have also changed, because now it has become possible to use fast and maneuverable war chariots.
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Potter’s wheel, IV-II millennium BC
This invention appeared in the IV-II millennium BC, and almost simultaneously in Mesopotamia, Egypt and India. Interestingly, the invention of the potter’s wheel was not necessarily related to the invention of the wheel. The first device of this kind was manual, and later a foot design with a vertical shaft and an upper one with lower discs appeared. The upper plate was used by the potter to form the clay, while the lower one was pushed by the master with his feet to rotate the entire structure.
This invention gave the development of civilization an impetus no less significant than the emergence of the wheel and the new transport. Facilitation of the manufacture of tableware led to an increase in its production, reduction in price and the subsequent development of trade.
But in Russia, the first potter’s wheel, circled, appeared very long ago – only in the 9th-10th centuries.
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Humanity has long been looking for material on which information could be stored. Let us recall at least the first rock paintings and inscriptions. Over time, papyrus, parchment and even birch bark appeared in circulation. But paper in the version in which we know it today appeared much later. Yes, in China they did something similar in ancient times, but this material was impractical. Hemp paper got wet quickly, bamboo paper was heavy, and silk paper was very expensive.
Paper in our modern sense is believed to have been invented by a Chinese nobleman of the Han dynasty. His name was Tsai Lun. The emperor ordered the dignitaries to finally restore order in the production of paper. And the wasps helped in solving this problem.
Tsai Lun noted that these insects make their nests from very practical materials. It turned out to be lightweight, durable, and moisture resistant, and also light. The Chinese man also found out the composition of the material – it was wood, whose plant fibers were processed with wasp saliva. She also provided protection from moisture.
Observant and diligent, Tsai Lun carried out hundreds of experiments, as a result, finding the possibility of obtaining a similar mixture. It was based on mulberry bark, hemp bast, rags, mulberry fibers and wood ash. All this mixture had to be mixed with water. Tsai Lun laid out the resulting gruel and dried it in the sun. All that remained was to smooth out the fabric with stones.
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Gunpowder, IX century
China is also considered the birthplace of this invention. Substances for making explosive powder have been known for a long time. Back in the 1st century A.D. in the Celestial Empire, sulfur and saltpeter were actively used for the preparation of medicines. Such mixtures were an attempt to create a kind of elixir of immortality, but as a result, gunpowder was born.
Interestingly, even the very Chinese word “pinyin”, meaning gunpowder, literally translates as “the fire of medicine.” So the powder was nicknamed for its scalding properties. For the first time, gunpowder was reported by a Taoist document of the mid-9th century Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe. The Chinese quickly realized that it was pointless to be treated with such a powder, but to fight is very profitable. Gunpowder has found its application in the entertainment industry, at holidays. It was this substance that helped the birth of fireworks in the 12th century.
Gunpowder made firearms possible. Even if the first samples of it were not practical, but in the future it was it that changed the whole military science. As a result, the world map began to change rapidly and constantly.
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Steam engine, 17th century
The first machine, which was powered by steam, dates back to the 17th century. French physicist and mathematician Denis Papin built his external combustion heat engine in 1690.
The machine created by Papen was a cylinder with a piston that lifted hot steam. And the pressure of the atmosphere after the condensation of the vapor that had fulfilled its task was responsible for the descent. Heating and condensation of the gas allowed useful work to be carried out.
I must say that this construction was suggested to the engineer by the German mathematician Leibniz. But it was Papen who put together all the necessary elements and was the first to use the safety valve to operate the engine.
Today, this design may seem unpretentious, but it was she who gave rise to the industrial revolution. The newly opened factories, factories and mills have ceased to be dependent on the energy of water and wind. Steamships appeared on the sea, and steam locomotives on land, ships began to grow in size. Over time, these machines were replaced by internal combustion engines, but the power of steam is actively used by mankind. For example, hot gas is used in power plants.
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Light bulb, 19th century
The ordinary light bulb that lives in our lamps has a rich history. Moreover, she even has several fathers, including Russians.
The first step towards the invention was the discovery made by an English astronomer in 1840. It turned out that if an electric current is passed through a platinum wire placed in a glass cylinder, it will glow. The next step was taken by the Russian scientist Alexander Milashenko, who began to create a coal thread. In 1844, American John Star received a patent for a light bulb with a carbon filament inside. The invention seemed promising, but still “raw”. Despite constant modifications, the bulbs of that time constantly burned out and gave, in general, little light. Engineers from leading countries competed in absentia to find out who would be the first to make a durable device.
One of the first who succeeded was the domestic engineer Alexander Lodygin. In 1874 he received a patent for a filament lamp. And in 1879, American Thomas Edison released a lamp that could work up to 40 hours. Lodygin accepted the challenge and in the 1890s created several new types of lamps, whose filaments were made of molybdenum and tungsten. And to make the lamps shine even stronger, the engineer came up with the idea of twisting the main element into a spiral shape. The durability of the product was facilitated by the idea of pumping air out of the container.
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The inventor of the telephone is the American Alexander Bell. I must say that the telephone had many progenitors, including the telegraph. But it was Bell who made history when he filed a patent application for the invention of the telephone in February 1876.
Interestingly, exactly on the same day, another American, Elijah Gray, also filed an application for registration of his invention – a device for transmitting and receiving vocal sounds by telegraph. When they began to figure out who first wanted to get a patent, Bell was the winner. He overtook the competitor by only a few hours. Bell went down in history, and his patent No. 174 465 will eventually be called the most expensive in history.
The design of the first telephone resembled a gallows, which gave rise to the corresponding nickname for the device. At first, the sound was transmitted with poor quality, but soon after the patent was filed, Bell managed to improve his invention. Legends say that on March 10, 1876, Bell worked in different rooms of the laboratory with his assistant Thomas Watson. And so the inventor accidentally spilled acid on his pants and called a friend for help. Watson heard screams from the receiver, amazed, he ran into the room with the words: “I heard every word!”.
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Anesthesia, XIX century
Painkillers appeared, perhaps, along with medicine itself. But who and when decided to use anesthesia is unknown. But we know exactly when the first operation took place using general anesthesia. In 1846, American dentist and surgeon William Morton removed a mandibular tumor using anesthesia. His compatriot, dentist Horos Wells, in the same year, using ether anesthesia, removed a tooth from his patient. The following year, this remedy was first used by Russian doctors: Doctor of Medicine Fedor Inozemtsev and scientist-anatomist Nikolai Pirogov, and independently of each other.
With the advent of anesthesia, the possibilities of medicine in the field of surgical interventions have significantly expanded.
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It did not immediately become clear what the invention of the English microbiologist Alexander Fleming turned out to be for humanity. But already in 1945, French newspapers wrote that he had done even more whole divisions for the liberation of the country and in the fight against fascism.
I must say – the fateful discovery was made by accident. In the early 1920s, Fleming left mucus from his own nose in one of the bacteria’s petri dishes. A few days later, the scientist was surprised to find that the bacteria in the containers where the mucus got in had disappeared somewhere. Fleming began to study an interesting effect and discovered the culprit – the substance lysozyme, which became a natural antibiotic. But this was only the first step towards the main discovery of the scientist and one of the main ones in the history of mankind. Fleming realized that there are substances in nature that can kill bacteria. And helped him with this mess!
And in 1928, in one of the Petri dishes with staphylococcus bacteria, Fleming discovered mold. There was a great temptation to immediately wash off the contents of the container, but the scientist became interested in the find. It turned out that the bacteria around the mold became transparent and died. Fleming isolated penicillin from the mold fungus penicillin, which became the first antibiotic. This discovery saved millions of lives during the Second World War. And already subsequent generations of people could not imagine life without antibiotic-based drugs.
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The global information network has several fathers. It will be difficult to name all of them, but two deserve special attention. These are the creators of the TCP / IP protocol, which became the basis for data transmission. It is Robert Elliot Kahn and Vinton Gray Cerf that many call the creators of the Internet.
The global network also had its less well-known predecessors – the Arpanet and Fidonet systems. The birthday of the modern Internet is October 29, 1969.
And, as is rarely the case with inventions, even the exact time of its appearance is known. At 21:00 that day, two nodes of the Arpanet network, located at a distance of 640 kilometers from each other, held a communication session. The network connected UCLA and Stanford University.
The experimenters wanted to pass the word log as part of the login command to log in. True, it was possible to convey only the syllable lo, nevertheless, this fact itself became a real scientific breakthrough. The system began to develop, at first not very quickly – there were no personal computers at all. But the Internet became a real and full-fledged network already in the 1990s, when millions of users around the world united. At the same time, the first websites and Internet service providers appeared. Since that time, the Internet has developed very rapidly. Today it is impossible to imagine our life without him. The Internet is used in all corners of the planet, including savages, and in the era of the coronavirus, it both saved people from loneliness and allowed them to work remotely.