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Old 07-22-2019, 07:34 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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We went from gas lamps, horses, sailing ships, to light bulbs, telephones, automobiles, planes, movies, televisions, radio, refrigerators, skyscrapers, etc.

What caused the rapid technological advances in such a relatively short span of time in human civilization?
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:55 AM
 
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Maybe technology development wasn't rapid but at the same natural pace as before - maybe using the word "rapid" is incorrect, maybe it's only because we're more familiar with more recent developments; For example a jet flying at 30,000 feet doesn't appear to be moving fast but at 10 feet away it seems much faster; however maybe the technology that did develop (especially understanding electricity) resulted in a lot more utility. Similarly, why didn't Europeans sail to the Americas in the 6th century? Why didn't it happen until the 15th century? There was a sequence of technological achievement that had to occur first: storing food, building big ships, understanding winds, storing water, organizing tasks, etc.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:21 AM
 
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Really it's the development of the steam engine combined with railroads. For the first time in history man is able to increase the speed of transportation beyond the speed of a horse and sailing ship. Think about this - the first time for since the development of ancient civilizations and the domestication of the horse and harnessing the wind man has suddenly and drastically improved transportation.

It's all about the infrastructure. Railroads allowed cheap and quick distribution of materials, which allowed man to further develop these materials- namely steel and coal. And then the rest just came to being from that point - mass production, communications, internal combustion engines, electricity, etc.
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Old 07-22-2019, 09:00 AM
 
788 posts, read 176,647 times
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Q: Why did civilization made such a huge technological leap in the late 1800's /early 1900's?

A: Fossil fuels


It is all about energy, and humanity's collective knowledge - acquired over millenia - finally reached a point where it was possible to exploit coal on a large scale. Several factors were behind this, such as the Enlightenment and the continuing development of the scientific method, and the fact that Britain - a wealthy realm with traditions of liberal democracy and a market economy - had an abundance of easily-accessible coal.

Coal is highly concentrated energy that can be released rather simply. This energy propelled the Industrial Revolution, allowing both mass production on a scale never before scene and metallurgy never before possible. These achievements produced a great deal of positive feedback, creating further possibilities for releasing ever more energy and new technological developments.

Both the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution also played key roles in allowing greater opportunities, so that persons with high intellects or marvelous insights who happened to be born unprivileged had a greater chance of passing their ideas and/or talents onto the world.

It didn't hurt that in the 19th century, the United States was coming into its own. It was a nation much like Britain in terms of economy and society, with enormous coal reserves itself. The land it occupied was previously only very lightly exploited, and the peoples already there were easily removed, pushed aside, or eliminated. And it featured a society heavily augmented by strivers with the vision and determination to leave poorer lives behind and make better ones for themselves in America. All of this entailed a massive potential for further innovation.

Once ideas and the physical ability to develop those ideas into tangible processes and things reached a critical mass, there was bound to be a 'leap'.
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:52 PM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
We went from gas lamps, horses, sailing ships, to light bulbs, telephones, automobiles, planes, movies, televisions, radio, refrigerators, skyscrapers, etc.

What caused the rapid technological advances in such a relatively short span of time in human civilization?
Some goods points have been made, especially about energy and especially land transportation. I would suggest going back, first around 400 years to circumnavigation of the globe and firearms, competition between Europeans and Ottomans being a major motivational factor behind innovation, then about a century before the inventions you mention, and point to the steam engine and railways, for example, the conquest of an entire new continent being a major motivational factor behind innovation, and suggest that the pace of change, after being somewhat linear for several millennia, became exponential.

Humans tend to judge one another and think of themselves as enlightened when comparing one group to another, which is okay to a point, but don't rule out also good luck as a major factor.

And don't rule out bad luck for a partial reversal, which has also happened from time to time in the annals of history, like around 1200 BC, just to cite one example of which some long before and others long after.

Good Luck, then.

Last edited by bale002; 07-22-2019 at 04:15 PM..
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Old 07-23-2019, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Seattle
846 posts, read 191,088 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
We went from gas lamps, horses, sailing ships, to light bulbs, telephones, automobiles, planes, movies, televisions, radio, refrigerators, skyscrapers, etc.

What caused the rapid technological advances in such a relatively short span of time in human civilization?
The scientific method is at the root of it all, with the development of physics and chemistry in combination with engineering, which is effectively applied science. Nearly all of those developments required an understanding of electricity.
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Old 07-23-2019, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
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Because of the law of exponential growth... one thing leads to two new things, which leads to four new things, then 8, 16, 32. ect.
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Old 07-23-2019, 05:19 PM
 
10,597 posts, read 15,697,337 times
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You need to look at what was driving force for economy(progress). In the periods you describe, driving force was manufacturing. That required new developments, designs, inventions.
After about mid 20th century, economy switched, slowly but steadily, to financial economy. Before, production was primary source of profit. After, goal of economy became to make money. Source to that became - system of credits. Loans. Interest. Usury.

Such economy is NOT interested in real progress. It is only interested in - making money. Out of thin air. Financial pyramids, as that's what it basically is. This is why you do not see any real progress anywhere. New shape of i-phone is not a progress. Neither is faster internet. Neither is all that monkey chatter about flying to Mars, as you can't even fly to the Moon. With a crew, I mean.
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Old 07-23-2019, 05:28 PM
 
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
9,902 posts, read 21,182,062 times
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Communications and improved transportation made it easier for innovators to share information. For example, Tesla was easily able to travel from Yuogslavia to New York and work with Edison. In 1500 they would have struggle to know of each other's existence.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Upstate, NY
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Great suggestions above. I think it all boils down to population growth.
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