19
   

What is the single most important invention in European history?

 
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:24 pm
@VALTUI,
The Chinese had the compass long before Europeans discovered the concept of magnetic North. Set has already pointed out that Europeans did not invent moveable type although Johannes Gutenberg's printing press did change quite a few things in the world, both for the better and for worse. What's the big deal about mechanical clocks? Or any clocks for that matter?

It always amuses me to remember that two of the material things which European immigrants to the Americans were most proud of were the two things that the native inhabitants here found completely useless -- except as ornamention. Those were the pocket watch and the compass. If one wants to know what time it is, one looks to where the sun is in the sky. And only a woefully backward city slicker would need a compass on land to show him what's north, what's south. It gets trickier out at sea, I admit.

farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 07:42 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
sea is actually easire than land for me.
A site I was trying to recall was one that I was taken to last year when I was down at my SA work area. Its called Puma Punku. The design of the rocks and the execution are phenomenal for the workmen. There had to be "trades" in the society cause the workmanship is so fine. I was blown away when I saw it the fiorst time. It was like visiting FAllingwater in the hills.
oolongteasup
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 08:31 pm
@farmerman,
That was a timeless joke about antiquarian horology that Andy clicked.

It would be remiss to not mention that guy who stood on the shoulders on giants.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 04:32 am
@oolongteasup,
anyway, the calendar was infinately more difficult to get right than was mere hourly timekeeping. Clocks evolved from sand or water instruments .
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 04:47 am
@Lustig Andrei,
Lustig Andrei wrote:
What's the big deal about mechanical clocks? Or any clocks for that matter?


As you already noted, things get trickier at sea, and that's where accurate (accurate to at least a matter of a few minutes) clocks become important, crucially important. Human beings have known, literally for thousands of years, how to find latitude (how far north or south they are of an arbitrary point or line). But finding longitude, finding how far east or west one is of a particular point, is extremely difficult. That can be accomplished by celestial observation, but it takes literally hours, and a steady observation platform--and at sea, one often doesn't have hours of clear weather in which to observe celestial bodies, and almost never has a steady platform.

However, if one can observe the sun at "local noon," which requires just minutes of clear weather, and does not require a steady platform, one can find one's longitude, if one has an accurate clock. Set your clock to the time determined by local noon at an arbitrary point such as, oh, i don't know, Greenwich, east of London?--and as long as your clock keeps accurate time, you can compare the time on your clock to your observation of local noon and determine just how far east or west you are of Greenwich.

This can be very important for avoiding things like running onto a rocky coast at night, or reaching your destination before your crew dies off from scurvy. It has been shown to be crucially important by historical events. Le Sieur de la Salle had reached the mouth of the Mississippi River overland, so he determined to take an expeditino there by sea to establish a colony. He knew the lattitude, but he had no way to determine the longitude. He set sail, and he made landfall on the island which is today the heart of Galveston, Texas. That meant he was far, far to the west of the Mississippi River. To his credit, he realized he needed to find the river to the east, so he set off with a party of his men. By that time, the people of the expedition were becoming despondent, and the men had begun to mistrust La Salle. When he wandered off with his party of men looking to the east for the river, they eventually murdered him, and buried the body. Then they wandered back west, and lied about what had happened. Eventually, a few of them admitted the truth, and the story finally came out.

A good, reliable clock would have saved La Salle's life, and would have dramatically affected the colonization of North America.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 04:52 am
Here, educate yourself. Read about John Harrison.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 10:07 am
@Setanta,
Thanks. Set. You explained it very well. Being lost at sea was dangerous before they were able to determine location - both latitude and longitude.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 10:13 am
Thanks Boss.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:04 am
@Setanta,
Here's a picture I took of the Prime Meridian at Greenwich. It was taken in 2003.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/img452.jpg
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:06 am
In my opinion, the Latin alphabet. It allowed Latin to evolve into different Romance languages, yet still be written. And, even to be adopted by non-Romance languages, as a way to phonetically write a language so others can understand how to pronounce a word (i.e., Wunderkind).
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:07 am
Yeah, the English love to preen themselves on silliness such as that.
VALTUI
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:11 am
@VALTUI,
The spread of Movable Type Printing, which made books and pamphlets cheap fast and available accross Europe, started an information revolution which led eventually to both the French and American revolutions, the gradual disempowerment of the Old Feudal Lords; the spread of Protestantism; the breakup of the monopoly of the Catholic Church; the establishment of the Guilds; the establishment of Universities; the spread of philossophical, scientific, technilogical and political ideas; the spread of the modern Capitalist system, parlementary democracies; colonialism; world empires and the spread of the Modern Western Culture around the world. No doubt an impressive result for such a small idea. But I think all the Modern Printing Press really did was greatly increase the speed of processes which were already in motion. I think there is one other invention which preceded Modern Printing which had just as great an impact: The invention of the Deep Furrowing Heavy Plow around 500 AD, just after the fall of the Pagan Roman Empire. This invention produced major food surpluses for the first time in history. It freed up the hands of millions of peasants, giving them an opertunity to develope and refine their skills, it freed them from the daily drudgery of "digging for their next meal" in the mud. It freed their minds as well and gave them more time to think about the meaning of their existance.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:19 am
The "real" first printed document was invented in China. The British Museum has one on display.
VALTUI
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:33 am
@cicerone imposter,
Perhaps the Chinese had the method of Wood Block Printing before the Europeans did. But it was the Europeans who took the invention to higher levels and eventually created the Movable Lead Letter System which changed the modern world overnight. Maybe the Chinese invented gunpowder, but it was the European who greatly improved it, (Nobel), and who then conquered the world and spread his scientific, high-tech, democratic way of life around the world as a result of his use of gunpowder.

Having an idea is fine, but the way in which that idea is put to use to serve and better the human condition is what really matters.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:38 am
@VALTUI,
VALTUI wrote:
. . . the European who conquered the world and spread his scientific, high-tech, democratic way of life around the world as a result of his use of gunpowder. (emphasis added)


Hey Bubba . . . WAKE UP . . . you're dreamin' . . .

How much democracy was there in Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella, and Carlos (HRE Charles V) and Philip were the monarchs? How much democracy was there in Portugal? How much democracy in France? Just what do you beliee democracy consisted of in England at any time before 1830? Or even after 1830, for that matter.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:42 am
@VALTUI,
This is from Wiki.
Quote:
The history of printing in East Asia refers to the use of woodblock printing and movable type printing by East Asian artisans. The former existed in Tang China as early as the 7th century, and the latter in Song China by the 11th century. Use of woodblock printing quickly spread to other East Asian countries, such as Japan. While the Chinese used only clay-character movable type at first, use of metal movable type was pioneered in Korea by the 13th century. The Western-style printing press became known in East Asia by the 16th century but wasn't fully adopted until centuries later.

VALTUI
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 11:53 am
@cicerone imposter,
This is utter nonsense. It was Gutenbergs invention which spread to Belgium and then to England, which changed the world in which we live. Modern Democracy and the capitalist way of life which replaced the Old Feudal Order started in England with the "Glorious Revolution"; found fertile ground in the American Revolution, spread accross Europe with the French Revolution and wrapped itself around the world with the British Empire.

We owe nothing to pre-historic Chinese nor Koreans for our modern way of life. To this day, both the Chinese the North Koreans are struggling against backward dictatorships. They have not yet achieved true democracy nor our standard of living based upon the dignity and freedom of the individual.

Besides; the topic is "Invention in European History".
VALTUI
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 12:05 pm
@Setanta,
When did I mention any exact dates? The information revolution which spread accross Europe as peasants began to become litterate, was an unstopable tour de force which toppled monarchs, opened markets, spread techology and fresh political ideas. Baruch Spinoza was a subject in 17th Century Spain/Portugal, but his intellect and courage, along with so many other brave men of his time, moved thousands toward modern ideas and freed them from medieval superstitions and fear.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 12:11 pm
@VALTUI,
Your lack of history becomes more pronounced with every post.

Quote:
Democracy means the rule of the people (in Greek). That is where each individual person has a vote about what to do. Whatever the most people vote for wins. There is no king or tyrant, and anybody can propose a new law.
One problem that immediately comes up in a democracy is who is going to be able to vote. Should people vote who are just visiting from some other city-state? How about little kids, should they vote? Or should there be some limits?

The earliest democracy in the world began in Athens, in 510 BC. When democracy proved to be successful in Athens, many other city-states chose it for their government too. But most of them allowed even fewer people to vote than Athens did: most of the other city-states only allowed free adult male citizens to vote IF they owned land or owned their own houses (that is, the richer people).
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2011 12:14 pm
@VALTUI,
Gutenberg's bible appeared in 1455. The first monarch who was toppled would have been Louis XVI, in 1789. That wasn't very fast work, now was it?
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

THE BRITISH THREAD II - Discussion by jespah
FOLLOWING THE EUROPEAN UNION - Discussion by Mapleleaf
The United Kingdom's bye bye to Europe - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
Amanda Knox - Discussion by ossobuco
Sinti and Roma: History repeating - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
[B]THE RED ROSE COUNTY[/B] - Discussion by Mathos
Leaving today for Europe - Discussion by cicerone imposter
So you think you know Europe? - Discussion by nimh
 
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 11/19/2019 at 08:42:14