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Science and Industry Change the Western World

There have been different kinds of revolutions in history. Revolutions of subjects against all powerful kings, of colonies against mother countries, of divided peoples against foreign rulers. Here we describe other revolutions — in transportation and communication, in industry and agriculture, in man’s knowledge and ways of living. Most of these changes were made possible because scientific knowledge progressed more rapidly in the last 200 years than in all previous recorded history. Since advances in science and industry form a background for events described earlier, we carry on the story through to recent times.

The beginnings of science. It tells how pioneer scientists developed scientific methods and discovered important natural laws. The application of scientific principles led to discoveries and inventions which revolutionized ways of living in western Europe and the United States.

History tells how revolutionary changes in ways of living brought problems as well as benefits. During the 1800’s, reforms were introduced in Great Britain and the United States to bring about peaceful solutions to such problems. In countries where reforms lagged, discontented people came to believe that only violent uprisings or community ownership could bring about better living conditions. Literature and the other arts not only pictured new ways of living, but called attention to conditions which needed to be improved.

History describes scientific progress in the first half of the 1900’s and the more healthful, comfortable and interesting life which has been made possible for most people in the Western World. In our own day the extent of man’s knowledge raises questions of human survival at the same time that it promises better ways of living for all.

Progress in Ways of Living Continue Down the Centuries

progress

It was the evening of December 17, 1903, when Bishop Wright in his home at Dayton, Ohio received the following telegram: SUCCESS. FOUR FLIGHTS THURSDAY MORNING ALL AGAINST TWENTY ONE MILE WIND. STARTED FROM LEVEL WITH ENGINE POWER ALONE. AVERAGE SPEED THROUGH AIR THIRTY-ONE MILES. LONGEST FLIGHT FIFTY NINE SECONDS. INFORM PRESS. HOME CHRISTMAS. ORVILLE WRIGHT This telegram tells simply and directly the story of the first successful motor-powered flights in an airplane. In these days, when planes make regularly scheduled flights across oceans and jet-powered planes exceed the speed of sound, we take air travel for granted. At the turn of this century, this brief adventure in the air by the two Wright brothers was a breath taking event. Most people scoffed at the famous English writer, H. G. Wells who the year before had daringly written that “before the year 2000 and very probably before 1950, a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe and sound.” Important as was the Wright brothers’ successful flight, it was only one of many startling advances made in the first half of our century. We have seen how modern science and invention made great progress during the 1700’s and 1800’s. This progress not only affected ways of living at that time but paved the way for even more startling developments. From 1900 to 1950 man’s ability to travel and communicate, produce goods, promote health and add to his comfort and well-being moved forward with lightning speed. Here we find answers to the following questions: 1. What advances did science make in the first half of the twentieth century? 2. How did science and invention speed up communication, transportation and industry? 3. What further changes came about in people’s interests and ways of living? 1. What Advances Did Science Make in the …

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Industrial Revolution brings New Problems and Solutions

Industrial Revolution

We remember how Rip Van Winkle, the famous character in Irving’s Sketch Book, fell asleep for 20 years. When poor old Rip stumbled back to his village, he was startled by the changes which he found. The people he talked with and the places he visited were strange. His former home was in ruins and his friends and nagging wife were dead. What was more, he discovered that a war had taken place and America was now an independent nation. If some imaginary native of Great Britain had returned to his home after slumbering from 1750 to 1850, he would truly have rubbed his eyes with as much amazement as did Rip Van Winkle. Ways of living in Britain had changed more in this hundred-year period than in the ten preceding centuries. Science had increased man’s control over the forces of nature and was pointing the way to better health. Invention had created new machines from which flowed a steadily growing stream of goods. Men seemed to be standing on the threshold of higher standards of living for all; better food, clothing, shelter, more comforts and greater security. Yet the Industrial Revolution was far from finished. Each advance in science and invention led to further progress. Our imaginary Englishman in 1850 would not have found all people enjoying a more abundant living. Along with its benefits, the Industrial Revolution created grave problems. It brought misery instead of happiness to thousands of workers in the factories and to their families. The Industrial Revolution affected ways of living during the 1800’s and the common people sought a greater share in its benefits. In short, you will find answers to the following questions: 1. How did the Industrial Revolution affect ways of living? 2. What efforts were made to solve workers’ problems? 3. How …

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The Growth of Science and Invention 

science

“Repair this model, if you please.” These words were spoken to James Watt, an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1764. The model showed how a steam engine worked, but what a steam engine! The original engine of which this miniature working model was a copy, was heavy and clumsy. Worse than that, it was extremely wasteful of the steam that ran it and therefore of the coal that was burned to generate the steam. Such steam engines, built by an English blacksmith named Newcomen, had been used for 40 years, but only in mines to pump out water. Wasteful or not, one steam pump, night and day, did the work of 50 men. Watt had an orderly mind. Moreover, he was a Scotsman, with a Scotsman’s traditional dislike of waste. Any machine that wasted most of the fuel that made it go was something to be improved, not merely repaired. Watt worked on the model and found out what the matter was. The steam was turned back into water (condensed) in the same part of the engine where it pushed against the piston, that is, in the cylinder. Only hot cylinders worked well, yet condensing steam in the cylinder cooled it off. Then why not condense the steam somewhere else? That is what Watt did. He worked for years planning a new model with a separate cooling chamber for the steam. Now, with the same amount of fuel, the engine did two or three times as much work as before and why not let steam, like flowing water, turn Wheels? Watt hitched up the steam engine in such a way that it could turn wheels and run machinery. He also built a governor to keep engines going at the same rate of speed. These inventions, in turn, …

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