Marhabaan friends. Welcome to another post of scientific revelation. In this post of the series, we will discuss all the great inventions that had shaped our world. The most important Findings for humanity (part-I) will take us through the time machine in the past. Through millennials, our species have seen many advances that have led us to be here. In previous post 5 major breakthroughs, we have seen umbrella concepts of human history. In this post let’s dive right into every dip of human history to understand our present. Hold tight folks, for a brand new ride.
Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.” — Louis Pasteur
Most of the researchers resonate with the fact that the wheel was the first greatest innovation by humankind. It is not clear when and where it was used first. Wheels became the first pioneer of transportation. Just think for a minute how difficult it would have been to travel for long-distance. On one hand heavy load of luggage and on the other hand invasion and animal attacks. Trade and commerce were extremely difficult and limited in this situation. When the wheel came into pictures everything transformed especially trade and administration. Trade boomed due to swift and efficient transportation. For villages and city-states, it became easier to control and manages people.
The discovery of the wheel had a very important role in the rise of the imperial system. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that without wheel it would have been impossible to keep track of everything and everyone. War tactics changed immensely due to the rise of the wheel. Chariot joined with warhorse introduced into a battleground. It became easier to call for reinforcement during the battle due to wheel and chariot. In trade, you could swiftly transport goods and make money. I think the arrival of the wheel had connected the whole world. Now a day we think of globalization and how everyone is connected. Back then wheel had connected everyone just like the internet is doing today.
Language and writing
The arrival of language happened before the wheel. Our proto-languages developed independently among homo bands. Every band had its own unique language with which they communicated among each other. When one group won over another, it had forced its beliefs. With time this trend had given rise to a few big kingdoms and few principle languages. The defeated band’s beliefs hadn’t disappeared with invasion instead they live among people for a long time. However, as time passed their offsprings got more connect with the prime culture and their home culture faded away. As we rowed through the river of history we have seen that cultures and beliefs unite with one being remembered and another forgotten.
Although languages were in the background for a considerable amount of time however writing developed quite late. The first evidence of writing has found in modern-day Iraq during the Sumerian period. From there on it has developed and diversified like language. Now in our present, we have countless written and spoken languages. To know more about the concert of language and writing refer to my blog post 5 major breakthroughs in human history.
I think the next innovation had far important and unimaginable outcomes in our time. Let’s imagine our world without paper. It’s hard to think right. Around every smallest to the largest event in human history, the paper had a position. How the scientific revolution would have happened without paper. How we would have an artistic inheritance. The bloom of literature, and an increment in general awareness and education because of the availability of books. From the fire of revolution among common folks of France to world war one and two. The contribution of the paper is invisible but present in the foundation of our modern world. The arrival of paper has given us a better substitute than parchment, and leaves.
In A.D. 105 a court official named Cai Lun had made the first paper. It was produced from old rags, tree bark, and fishing net. From here this art of papermaking traveled to japan where they started using mulberry tree pulp for paper making. The art of papermaking reached the Arab world when two chiness paper makers were captured. When Arabs have learned the techniques they established the first paper mill and used better raw material like hemp and linen. With the Arab invasion of Sicily, paper making entered Europe. The papermakers of Fabriano had revolutionized the papermaking in Italy. They used hydraulic presses, glues, and even hallmarks to produce high-quality papers. This became the foundation for scientific revolution and renaissance. Refer to the history of paper for more information.
The printing press has revolutionized how we distribute and use knowledge. Before the widespread use of paper, books and journals were delicacies only available to rich and influential. The level of education was almost nill and the oral spreading of news was the way of life. After the printing press newspaper, journals, pamphlets and became available for the mass. Think about the world wars and other revolutions without paper. Paper became a medium to spread the news and ideas to the far fleet of people.
When one idea in the one place stats it affects the people of far land. Same as the invention of paper, the first-ever printed document also traced back to China. The diamond sutra (868 A.D.) during the Tang Dynasty is the oldest printed material. The movable type of printing press was also developed in China around 970 to 1051 A. D. At that time Chinese started using baked clay tablets instead of wood. It took a while for the printing press to appear in Europe.
Johannes Gutenberg has been credited as the father of the European printing press. In 1450 after returning from France he had opened his press unit in Mainz Germany. He had used metal for pressing. He had used his own ink and wine press for printing. It was the start of the era widespread use of books, newspapers, ideas, and philosophy. For more information refer to the Printing press.
The history of medicine is far interesting and in a sense malevolent. Since the emergence, our ancestors have been learning about their environment. What to eat, what plants will make us ill and what will cure, From what to stay miles away and what is equivalent to the nectar of life. For most of the human history medicine from the animals was absent and lets now even talk about microorganisms.
Herbs and myths
The normal disease like cold and fever was easily curable from plant medicine and our ancestors knew the use of plants very well. Most of the plants were available in the garden and backyard. If somebody has gotten any microorganism based disease some 600 years ago death would have been certain. Religion and myths had a heavy effect on the history and practices of medicine. The unusual and rare diseases were considered to be the effect of some evil spirits. The person had to go through a very painful process for recovery. The medical practices in medieval times were absurd and very dangerous. Those practices included spell, beating, burning body parts, potions, and others. Magic and sorcery had a huge part in the medicinal practices up until the last 200 years ago.
Ancient Egyptian were very skilled in the art of medicine. The mummification of dead bodies is just one example of their advanced knowledge of medicinal plants and surgical capabilities. Some writing has survived from that time that had mentioned a list of medicines and surgical expertise and tools for wounds. The history of Indian medicine dates back to Atharvaveda and Ayurveda. There was mention of countless herbs for the treatment. From ancient China, the most sacred book of medicine is Huangdi neijing. In Asia, pulses were considered very important in medicinal science. Bath and hygiene were very important in most of the ancient medicinal practices.
In medieval times the use of spells and prayers was very acceptable medicine. In ancient Greece and Rome, the imbalance among the vital liquid was considered the origin of any disease. Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine. He and his students have written many books and he is famous for Hippocrate oath. He was a skilled surgeon and first to performed cardiothoracic surgery.
To read in detail about medicines refer to History of Medicine.
In 1830 in Italy Agostino Bassi understood silk warm disease to micro organism and in Germany Theodor Schwann has found the fermentation by yeast. It was the start of modern medicine. In 1847, Vienna Ignaz Semmelweis had reduced the new mothers’ birth by making doctors clean their hands before attending childbirth. Louis pasture has found bacteria and in 1881 Robert Koch found TB bacteria and conformed germ theory. The involvement of women in medicine was very lees and mainly in the form of nurses and midwives. In recent years medical practices have refined with the newest technologies. Microorganisms are being harnessed as medicine. We are dealing with ever so deadly diseases. With Covid-19 on us, it will be more important to make vaccines and promote medicinal research on many subfields.
340 B. C. ancient Greece. Philosopher Aristotle was gazing up in the sky. Wondering what is our purpose? are we alone? Maybe even before Aristotle, many had wondered the same questions of our existence. This greek philosopher had questioned his curiosity in the book On the Heavens. He explained how the earth has a spherical shape. He has observed lunar eclipses, the position of the north star in the northern and southern hemispheres. A ship’s sail is first visible from a long distance had also concluded to round earth theorem.
Position of the earth
Although Aristotle failed to explain the position of earth correctly. He explained that earth is the center of the universe and other celestial bodies revolve around it in a circular motion. In the second century A.D., Ptolemy had extended this idea by presenting a cosmological model. Earth was the center surrounded by 8 spheres of sun, moon, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and mercury. Many religions including Christianity have adopted it because of divine intervention. The start of modern Astronomy happened in the year 1514 when a polish priest Nicholas Copernicus had published his cosmological model. His model explained that the sun is at the center and other planets including earth revolve around in circular motion.
It took almost one century before two astronomer Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei publicity promoted this idea. In 1609 when Galilei was looking at the Jupiter with his telescope he noticed several moons orbiting it. It was the direct evidence that the earth is not at the center. From there on we are regularly discovering that we might not be very special. We are the part of a fairly average star system and happen to be at the goldilocks zone of our star. Our sun is among billions of stars in a milky way. Milky way galaxy is among millions of galaxy in the universe. These data are only concrete for the observable universe. Now you think in our infinite universe ( not to mention now many scientists are believing in Multiverse) must have countless galaxies, stars and solar systems and maybe civilization.
Another leap came when Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 that the universe is expanding and everything must have started through a big bang. Since than Astronomy is going farther away and showing us the world of fantasy.
Gravity and theory of Relativity
Our modern understanding of gravity dates back to 1687 when newton has published his Principia Mathematica. It explains that is an attractive force between two objects. It is proportional to the mass of each body and inversely proportional to the distance between them. This was probably the first breakthrough to understand how celestial bodies work up in space. This law has given us tools to predict the orbits and motion of planets around the sun. Newton-like other philosophers before him had believed in absolute time. There are a universal clock and time is the same for everyone at everyplace.
In 1865 British physicist Maxwell had explained how light propagates through space. He had proposed that light is electromagnetic and it has wave nature. That was very important for the field of physics.
In 1905 A famous paper was presented by Albert Einstein That had explained how time is relative to that person-specific. That paper was about the special theory of Relativity. Similarly, he has published another paper explaining the General Theory of Relativity. They both combinedly called the other pillar of physics after Quantum Mechanics.
Newton has given a brilliant theory to explain gravity but he failed to mention how gravity operated theory space. In the theory of Relativity Einstein has explained that time and space are not separate. In fact, space and time are combined with 3 dimensions of space and one of time, respectively. Gravity depends on the mass of the object. The heavier the object the higher will be the gravity. The heavier objects distort the fabric of space-time around them its like when you throw a ball on the trampoline. Sun due to its heavy mass curves space-time and earth revolve around it on that curved space. It the same scenario with the moon and other celestial bodies including stars and galaxies.
Spacetime and observations
Einstein had explained that there is no absolute time and space. Time changes according to the observer.
It has been proven many times since then, that time runs slowly around heavy objects like earth. A clock on a plane was a few nanoseconds faster than the one on earth. This observation has very important practical use in air navigation and satellites. A total solar eclipse in 1919 has proven the theory of distortion of space/gravity by heavy objects. The sun has deflected lights of faraway stars so their apparent position was visible. In 2014 LIGO has detected gravitational waves produce after the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years away.
John Dalton proposed the Atomic theory in 1803. He explained that chemical compounds are made up of molecules. As a result, the grouping of atoms formes the molecule. In 1905 before his paper on special relativity, he had published another paper regarding Brownian motion. He has explained That suspended dust particles in the liquid do random motion because they collide with the atom of water.
J. J. Thompson had discovered the electron and E. Rutherford had found proton of the atom. In 1932 James Chadwick had discovered Neutron. Many researchers have redefined Atomic theory, for example, Neils Bhor. Atomic theory has very important implications for us. The discovery of quarks and other subatomic particles is studied regularly to understand how our universe operates. We are on the way to harness the energy fo atoms to generate power for our nations. Might be far in the future but a huge technological advancement.
After the success of Newton gravity which could predict very accurately the motion of objects, many believed that there has to be a good theory. You can calculate and predict the future of everything that will happen in the universe. The universe and everything in it is Deterministic.
It was proven wrong by the theories that will come under Quantum mechanics. For instance, In 1900, Max Planck (father of Quantum mechanics) suggested that light, x rays, and other rays are emitted in the pockets that are called Quanta. Each quantum has a certain amount of energy and the higher the frequency higher the energy of quantum.
Moreover, the actual blow to the Deterministic principle came in 1926 when Werner Heisenberg Presented his famous Uncertainty principle.
You can not measure the velocity and position of one atom accurately. If you want to measure its position you need to shower light on it. The quantum of light will collide with particle and you will know the position. However, its velocity is now changed. One can never measure position and velocity at the same time. This principle will tell us the there is no perfect velocity and position for any atom. There is the quantum state which is a combination of velocity and position. In the quantum state, you can find the atom anywhere. Our universe is made up of atom Therefore we can’t measure its present position and velocity. Consequently, we can’t determine its future.
How big of a disappointment it is. At the same time it teel us the fundamental nature of the universe. There is unpredictability in our universe, chance factor.
Quantum mechanics and present
Quantum mechanics is an important principle in all modern technologies today. It underlines every aspect of technology and innovation, chemistry, and biology. There is only one area of physics where it still needs to be incorporated, Theory of Relativity. Quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity are polar apart. One governs the mechanism of large and heavy objects of the universe and one rule over the tiny world of atoms. Scientists are working towards The quantum theory of gravity that will probably be The theory of everything.
Many discoveries and inventions had made our present possible. This list can only mention some of them but do not forget our present has become possible because of the ever-changing and improving past. Stay tuned for part II.