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By Thomas Crump

From the gnomons and sundials of precedent days to the 26-kilometer underground particle accelerator of the twenty-first century, this interesting and enlightening quantity through mathematician and anthropologist Thomas Crump exhibits how technology has continuously redefined the world’s horizons, prolonged the frontiers of data, and complicated human civilization. With 16 pages of pictures, and brilliant vignettes of scientists and their innovations, Crump publications readers via early makes an attempt to degree time and space—from astronomical charts and calendars to Arabic numerals and algebraic notation—before he examines the beginning of an primarily smooth expertise within the 1600s. With Galileo’s telescopic exploration of the skies firstly of the 17th century and Newton’s experiments with the prism and lightweight at its finish, the optical tools primary to all medical study have been invented. Crump then proceeds to electromagnets, cathode tubes, thermometers, vacuum pumps, X rays, accelerators, semiconductors, microprocessors, and tools at present being designed to function in subzero temperatures. right here, then, in an available, succinctly narrated quantity, is the iconic human quest for wisdom via know-how. right here, too, is the evidence that what's knowable is, and has constantly been, way more compelling than what's recognized. “[Crump] presents full of life summaries of the development in numerous fields, and succeeds in respiring new lifestyles into widespread stories.”—The Economist “Fascinating reading.”—Publishers Weekly

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The earliest hominids' use of fire may have been for guarding against animal predators, which may be the sum of their legacy to Homo sapiens sapiens. By the time that writing first appeared this use of fire had been considerably extended. What then did all this involve? THE MASTERY OF FIRE 9 Fire is essentially an epiphenomenon which takes many different forms: in everyday life these extend from the flash of an explosion to the smouldering of tobacco. The fire characteristic of the stars can be seen in the sun, still our main source of heat and light, but the process of combustion within the sun only began to be understood in the twentieth century.

The furnace can be designed with a conduit allowing the liquid mass to flow to the outside; an alternative is to have the process take place in a crucible, from which the liquid mass can be poured. In either case, the resulting product little resembles the ore from which it was extracted: it has become quite recognisably something new - a metal. Metal, in modern science, is above all a good conductor of electricity. Until Volta invented his electrochemical battery in 1800, there was no means of producing an electric current to be conducted anywhere, so we must look elsewhere for the important properties of metal in the ancient world.

As the Roman Empire came to its end, such a domain did develop in the West, with its basic unit, the pound (libra), being the standard both for money and for weight. 44 The monetary system that then resulted became standard in Western Europe under Charlemagne at the beginning of the ninth century: it survived in the United Kingdom until 1971. Confusion in metrology was a major obstacle to the development of science, and standardisation was long in coming.

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