The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900

By David Edgerton

From the books of H.G. Wells to the clicking releases of NASA, we're awash in clichéd claims approximately excessive technology's skill to alter the process background. Now, in The surprise of the Old, David Edgerton bargains a startling new and clean mind set concerning the historical past of expertise, greatly revising our rules concerning the interplay of know-how and society long ago and within the current. He demanding situations us to view the historical past of expertise by way of what daily humans have truly used-and proceed to use-rather than simply refined innovations. certainly, many hugely touted applied sciences, from the V-2 rocket to the Concorde jet, were high priced mess ups, whereas many mundane discoveries, like corrugated iron, turn into highly very important worldwide. Edgerton reassesses the importance of such acclaimed innovations because the capsule and knowledge expertise, and underscores the continuing significance of unheralded know-how, debunking many notions concerning the implications of the "information age." A provocative heritage, The surprise of the Old presents a completely new means of having a look traditionally on the dating among invention and innovation.

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In that feel, many, might be so much, applied sciences fail. despite the fact that, a few new applied sciences have been certainly frequently additions to latest, substitute applied sciences. The bomber didn't dispose of armies and navies; the electronic desktop didn't spell the top of the analogue computing device until eventually the Sixties. Historians who've enthusiastic about the difficulty of technological selection aspect time and again to the supply of competing applied sciences. for instance, within the united states within the early years of the 20 th century, the petrol-powered vehicle was once, in short, much less universal than both the steam or electric-powered motor vehicle; certainly in Chicago the electrical vehicle ruled. In later years electrical autos came across area of interest markets: they accounted for round 20 according to cent of motor taxis in Berlin among 1907 and 1918. thirteen sooner than the good warfare German fireplace departments had a robust tendency to decide on electrical hearth engines to exchange horses. In mid-century, with the expansion of commercial electrical automobiles, got here the original British milk drift, supplying milk to almost each loved ones within the land. but, whereas representing a believable replacement, the electrical motor vehicle usually nine surprise of previous. indb nine 22/11/07 13:05:22 the surprise of the previous misplaced out to the petrol-powered automobile. among the purposes for this was once the matter of use outdoor the variety of electric networks, and the actual difficulties encountered with battery upkeep. 14 on the planet of vehicles there were other kinds of inner combustion engine – diesel, petrol and two-stroke; other kinds of physique fabric, together with using loads of wooden as overdue because the Forties within the united states, and artificial fabrics too. a pleasant instance, built and stored in construction for a few years within the specific stipulations confronted within the German Democratic Republic used to be the Trabant – a vehicle with a resin/wool physique and a two-cylinder two-stroke engine. there were many sorts of competing street fabric within the 20th century, for instance, together with tarmacadam and cement. 15 In aviation too there were many differing kinds of engine and of aeroplane. there have been petrol engines and diesel engines and the Soviet Union committed large attempt to the steam aero-engine within the Thirties. sixteen Petrol engines got here in lots of types: rotary, radial and inline. Jet engines might become turbo-prop, turbo-jet and turbo-fan editions. The transition from wooden to steel in airplane building within the interwar years offers an enticing case of the way offerings have been made. relocating to steel was once usually taken as an index of technical development – steel used to be evidently larger, and the faster designers switched to steel the extra complex they have been made to seem. Conversely, past due use of wooden was once visible because the results of a few eccentricity. however the assumption that wooden was once not so good as steel doesn't carry. What drove the shift from wooden to steel used to be the idea that steel used to be the cloth of the long run and therefore inherently greater for plane, an ideology later subscribed to via historians of aviation. however profitable wood plane, particularly the British Mosquito of the second one international warfare, persevered to be made.

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