From Their Balloons, the First Aeronauts Transformed Our View of the World

Not so long ago, people had no idea what would happen to them – and what they would see – once they ascended into the clouds. Introduction Near the beginning of the new film “The Aeronauts,” a giant gas-filled balloon called the “Mammoth” departs from London’s Vauxhall Gardens and ascends into the clouds, revealing a[…]

Primate Activity with Stones Hints at How Human Tool Use Evolved

Studying animal tooling can provide clues to the mysteries of human evolution. Human beings used to be defined as “the tool-maker” species. But the uniqueness of this description was challenged in the 1960s when Dr. Jane Goodall discovered that chimpanzees will pick and modify grass stems to use to collect termites. Her observations called into[…]

Alan Turing: Computer and Mathematics Pioneer Jailed for Love

As a result of anti-homosexuality laws in the UK in the 1950s, Alan was charged with gross indecency. Who was Alan Turing? Alan Turing was an English mathematician and pioneer of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. During WW2, he was instrumental in breaking the German Enigma code, leading to Allied victory over Nazi Germany.[…]

Why a Computer Will Never Be Truly Conscious

Brain functions integrate and compress multiple components of an experience which simply can’t be handled in the way computers sense, process and store data. Many advanced artificial intelligence projects say they are working toward building a conscious machine, based on the idea that brain functions merely encode and process multisensory information. The assumption goes, then,[…]

A History of Science and Technology in China

The first recorded observations of comets, solar eclipses, and supernovae were made in China. Introduction The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with science and technological contribution. In antiquity, independent of Greek philosophers and other civilizations, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. The[…]

The Internet at 50: The Night the Internet Was Born

50 years ago there was no expectation of where the achievement would lead, and the real impact would not begin to be understood for almost 20 years. UCLA October 29, 19699:30 p.m.  Boelter Hall is a nondescript but pleasant enough brick building on the UCLA campus, framed by California olive trees and bordered by the grass-lined[…]

How the U.S. Census Kickstarted America’s Computing Industry

As the country grew, each census required greater effort than the last. That problem led to the invention of the punched card. By Dr. David Lindsay RobertsAdjunct Professor of MathematicsPrince George’s Community College Introduction The U.S. Constitution requires that a population count be conducted at the beginning of every decade. This census has always been[…]

The Internet At 50: How the Dot-Com Bubble Burst

As the new millennium began, greed, ignorance, and misplaced hopes within the tech world nearly destroyed the financial potential for the internet. “When will the Internet Bubble burst?” For scores of ‘Net upstarts, that unpleasant popping sound is likely to be heard before the end of this year.” Jack Willoughby, Barron’s, March 2000 It was[…]

Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution

The inventions themselves were not an immediately profitable investment throughout many parts of Europe during the 18th century. Introduction The Industrial Revolution was a time of great change and development throughout parts of Europe in which society made substantial technological progress. A large amount of this progress was centered in Britain, not only because of[…]

Chariots in Ancient Hunting, Sports, and Warfare

Horses were not used for transport, ploughing, warfare or any other practical human activity until quite late in history, and the chariot was the first such application. By Rodrigo Quijada PlubinsHistorian Introduction The chariot was a light vehicle, usually on two wheels, drawn by one or more horses, often carrying two standing persons, a driver[…]

5 Milestones That Created the Internet, 50 Years after the First Network Message

The first internet communication was underwhelming, thanks to a computer crash. But a lot has happened since then – including key decisions that helped build the internet of today. Introduction Fifty years ago, a UCLA computer science professor and his student sent the first message over the predecessor to the internet, a network called ARPANET.[…]

The Internet at 50: Four Steps in Transforming the Digital World

The internet may have been “born” in October 1969, but it then percolated for years as complex, near-impenetrable masses of data stored in computers around the world. “I don’t feel like a father of anything. It’s not how I think of myself. Every now and again, I think, ‘you know what? I invented the search[…]

Ancient Mesopotamian Science and Technology

The Sumerians first explored the practice of the scientific hypothesis. Introduction Mesopotamian science and technology developed during the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) and Early Dynastic Period (2900-1750 BCE) of the Sumerian culture of southern Mesopotamia. The foundation of future Mesopotamian advances in scientific/technological progress was laid by the Sumerians who first explored the practice of[…]

Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed through Infrared Imaging

The scroll was discovered and painstakingly unrolled in 1795. More than 200 years ago, scholars glued the remains of an ancient papyrus scroll onto cardboard to preserve it. But the scroll, a history of Plato’s Academy, also had writing on the back. Now scholars have deployed imaging technology to read what’s been concealed. This scroll[…]

Amelia Earhart Would Have a Hard Time Disappearing in 2019

Eight decades after missing aviator Amelia Earhart was declared dead, technologies still don’t quite track every airplane all over the globe. By Dr. Brian Strzempkowski and Dr. Shawn PruchnickiStrzempkowski: Assistant DirectorPruchnicki: LecturerCenter for Aviation StudiesThe Ohio State University When Amelia Earhart took off in 1937 to fly around the world, people had been flying airplanes for only[…]

Thoreau’s View of the Railroad

Thoreau’s attitude toward the railroad was foremost one of ambivalence. What’s The Railroad To Me? What’s the railroad to me?I never go to seeWhere it ends.It fills a few hollows,And makes banks for the swallows,It sets the sand a-blowing,And the blackberries a-growingWalden, H. Thoreau Henry Thoreau (1817-1862) was a transcendentalist writer, poet, and naturalist who[…]

How Google, Apple and Microsoft Will Change Education in the Future

Technology is the driving factor that will change the face of education in the years to come. This is evident over the last few years with devices and online tutorials edging their way into the school curriculum. The giant companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft are the main players who strive for improving the[…]

Ancient Israelite Technology

Looking at ancient Israeli construction and architecture, writing, industrial tools, and weapons of war. Introduction Technology enabled ancient Israel, the Northern Kingdom excluding Judah, to be economically prosperous and establish itself as a major political power as early as the 10th century BCE, steadily growing until its destruction in 720 BCE. Some of the most important[…]

H.G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress

In addition to the numerous pioneering works of science fiction by which he made his name, H. G. Wells also published a steady stream of non-fiction meditations, mainly focused on themes salient to his stories: the effects of technology, human folly, and the idea of progress. As Peter J. Bowler explores, for Wells the notion[…]

Charles Babbage and the Difference Engine

Many machinists even created their own variations of the difference engine after Babbage’s death. Introduction The 2008 film Babbage features a dinner-party between many of the important figures in the life of the inventor Charles Babbage: his collaborator Ada Lovelace, his father Benjamin, his mother Betsy, his friend John Herschel, and his wife Georgiana. Babbage’s designs for[…]

Disaster Ahead: How Danube Floods Created Telegraph Networks

Telecommunication would prove to be a powerful agent of change. Rivers flood, some more regularly than others. The more infrastructure humans construct in floodplains, the more vulnerable to extreme hydrological events they become. Thus, when Danube floods hit Vienna, a Habsburg residence and the most important city of the monarchy, its waters regularly swept over[…]

Five Moon-Landing Innovations That Changed Life on Earth

The technologies behind weather forecasting, GPS and even smartphones can trace their origins to the race to the Moon. Much of the technology common in daily life today originates from the drive to put a human being on the Moon. This effort reached its pinnacle when Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle landing module onto[…]

“Nancy Grows Up,” the Media Age, and the Historian’s Craft

If, as historians, we took such a turn, we could open up new horizons for historical scholarship. The Challenge of “Nancy Grows Up” It begins with anxious crying. The plaintive sound only lasts a few moments before the screams drop into a slightly lower register and transform into a calm murmur. The sound repeats, then[…]

Fighting talk: First World War Telecommunications

As a result of the need to exchange information faster and more efficiently, telecommunications advanced rapidly. As the First World War raged, governments harnessed modern technologies to give them an advantage in conflict. New inventions – from tanks to Zeppelins – appeared on the battlefield, while existing technologies were adapted to fit the needs of the British[…]

Morse Code Marks 175 Years and Counting

Morse code works whether flashing a spotlight or blinking your eyes – or even tapping on a smartphone touchscreen. The first message sent by Morse code’s dots and dashes across a long distance traveled from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore on Friday, May 24, 1844 – 175 years ago. It signaled the first time in human[…]

A Pressing Matter: Ancient Roman Food Technology

Researchers show that an Ancient Roman text has long been misinterpreted, shedding new light on how innovation in olive oil and wine presses developed. Introduction No self-respecting Melbourne hipster café would be caught dead without its Gaggia coffee machine and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These quintessentially Mediterranean food habits have crossed the seas[…]

The Invention of Wireless Cryptography

In 1915, a congressional bill was introduced to ban all civilian wireless activities from the airwaves. Static was always a problem as the summer heat rolled in. Situated on a hundred-acre plot along the Long Island coastline and “dropped in a mosquito-infested field,” the Sayville wireless plant began experiencing the seasonal interference that comes with[…]

Pioneers of U.S. Military Cryptology: Colonel Parker Hitt and Genevieve Young Hitt

Genevieve Hitt, likely the first woman to serve the U.S. government as a cryptologist, broke ground in her own way, paving the way for future generations of females in the profession. Introduction “The father of modern American military cryptology, whose Manual for the Solution of Military Ciphers guided our early, halting footsteps in the science[…]