Saturday, June 25, 2005

Glass ⇒ Industrial Revolution

By popular request:

Thrm: Glass ⇒ Industrial Revolution


Glass ⇒ Lenses
⇒ Observation of Operation of Gravity on Extraterrestrial Moons

Observation of Gravity on Extraterrestrial Moons ∧ Observation that Objects of Different Density Do Not Fall At the Same Rate in an Atmosphere ⇒ ∃ Vacuum

Vacuum ⇒ Atmospheric Pressure ⇒ Steam Engine
∴ Industrial Revolution


I am very much a technological determinist. To translate from Mathematical proof: The discovery of lenses is predicated on existing glass polishing technologies. Lenses are what allowed Galileo to see moons orbiting other planets. Through observation the operation of gravity on these moons, he was able to determine that the density of the planets was different, yet the action of gravity on each of them was the same. This led to his historic postulation that objects in a vacuum fall at the same rate.

The idea that interstellar space was filled (?) with vacuum was iconoclastic. It destroyed the notion that “Nature abhors a vacuum,” and led to subsequent research on atmospheric pressure by Torrcelli among others, this research eventually culminating in the discovery of the Steam Engine. Indeed, the Neucomen Steam Engine relied on the generation of vacuum to provide power, rather then the generation of positive pressure as in modern steam and internal combustion engines.

There are other inventions that contributed to the industrial revolution, such as the micrometer, which were developed due to the precision required by Astronomy. In addition, the use of lenses on the micro scale led to the development of the biological sciences. Indeed, the whole story of Astronomy is that doing things like staring off into space may radically change the way humans live in a positive way. Because of the recreational use of lenses, lenses made out of a material as valuable as gold in some times and places, we discovered science, medicine, and industry. I guess I should point to this post explaining that glass technology was relatively less advanced in the Orient then in the West until contemporary times.


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