Download A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western by Robert Friedel PDF

By Robert Friedel

Why does expertise switch over the years, how does it switch, and what distinction does it make? during this sweeping, bold examine one thousand years of Western event, Robert Friedel argues that technological swap comes mostly in the course of the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted trust that issues may be performed in a greater means. What Friedel calls the "culture of development" is manifested on a daily basis within the methods humans perform their projects in life--from tilling fields and elevating teenagers to waging war.Improvements may be ephemeral or lasting, and one person's development won't continuously be seen as such by way of others. Friedel stresses the social procedures through which we outline what advancements are and choose which advancements will final and that allows you to no longer. those strategies, he emphasizes, have created either winners and losers in history.Friedel offers a sequence of narratives of Western expertise that start within the 11th century and stretch into the twenty-first. time-honored figures from the heritage of invention are joined by way of others--the Italian preacher who defined the 1st eyeglasses, the dairywomen displaced from their keep watch over over cheesemaking, and the little-known engineer who first advised a grand tower to Gustav Eiffel. Friedel strains expertise from the plow and the printing press to the inner combustion engine, the transistor, and the distance trip. Friedel additionally reminds us that religion in development can occasionally have bad outcomes, as enhanced weaponry makes struggle ever extra lethal and the force for making improvements to humans can result in eugenics or even genocide. the main accomplished try to inform the tale of Western expertise in lots of years, engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, A tradition of development records the ways that the force for development has formed our glossy international.

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This change was by no means restricted to farming itself, where the horse’s increased use as a plow animal has already been described. The horse became the favored beast of carriage for a wide range of classes, and contributed to urbanization by making the transport of both persons and produce between farm and city swifter and surer. The Europeans began for the first time to breed di¤erent varieties of horses for di¤erent purposes, emphasizing a range of qualities, from the great stamina of a sturdy farmhorse, to the speed and agility of the racing thoroughbred.

The 21 Plows and Horses order, like others before and after it, was formed to return the monastic life to earlier ideals of purity and self-discipline. Its influence came largely from the dynamic teaching and leadership of Bernard of Clairvaux, who founded a Cistercian house in that small French village in 1115. The order spread at a phenomenal rate over the next several decades, exceeding five hundred houses by the end of the century. Because the ideals of the order called for isolation from established cities and towns, the houses and farms tended to be in uncultivated ‘‘wastes’’—forests, mountains, and swampy lands.

This wheel was ‘‘horizontal’’ because the wheel lay on its side, with its axis sticking straight up out of the water. 1 The horizontal waterwheel (A) was the simplest and least important source of water power. Much more important were the various forms of the vertical waterwheel, the most important of which were the undershot wheel (B) and the overshot wheel (C). 34 Chapter 3 other complications. While this had the virtue of simplicity—one of the reasons the horizontal wheel is usually assumed to have preceded the vertical—it had the significant disadvantage of making the millstone’s speed completely dependent on the direct action of the water against the wheel—no gears, and thus no gear ratios and transmission.

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