Saturday, July 5, 2008


you know the theory that aliens have tampered with humanity and accelerated our progress?

"In China, the earliest literary reference to magnetism lies in a 4th century BC book called Book of the Devil Valley Master (鬼谷子): "The lodestone makes iron come or it attracts it."[1] The earliest mention of the attraction of a needle appears in a work composed between 20 and 100 AD (Louen-heng): "A lodestone attracts a needle."[1] By the 12th century the Chinese were known to use the lodestone compass for navigation." So, in 800 years people got from having the components of a compass to having a usable compass.

and then my favorite space fact:

"The Wright brothers, Orville (19 August 1871 – 30 January 1948) and Wilbur (16 April 1867 – 30 May 1912), were two Americans who are generally credited[1][2][3] with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on 17 December 1903."

"On July 20, 1969, Armstrong, accompanied by Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, landed the lunar module Eagle on the surface of the Moon"
So, in 66 years people got from can't-get-airborne-except-via-balloon to the actual moon and back.

Does that seem right? Because I feel like the 800 year advance was comparatively easy to do. I feel like I might have done it accidentally, unlike spaceflight.

But one thing I've just realized is the current world population is shockingly high compared to the past, so there are more inventors, more people with dreams and ideas and problems to solve.


Robert van de Walle said...

More people, yes, and more people getting a full night's sleep on newfangled spring mattresses!

Coincidence? I think not!

Robert van de Walle said...

And... isn't 12th cen AD ,imus 4th cen BC more like 1600 years? Or is it 1500?

Robert van de Walle said...

,imus = minus. heh

flyingvan said...

What's been a steady technological progression was the development of alloys and new materials. There were flying machines designed in the way back past that would have flown if there were motors with the right power to weight ratio; those motors depended on materials and fabrication techniques that only recently existed....Once developed, it opened a lot of doors. Getting off the ground at all took millenia; after that it was just a matter of elevation. We only advanced from 15' off the ground to 250,000 miles, though. We've sort of hit a hard ceiling past that to the really distant stuff