HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY
As taught by
Prof. Tim Richardson
The purpose of this assignment
is to help you understand how individual persons can discover / invent
some "technological application of science" which, depending on the surrounding
circumstances, can have a long-term effect on human life.
Sometimes an invention is special
because if it did not take place, humans would continue to suffer
some bad condition.
Sometimes an invention is not
really an invention of a new thing, but rather a "discovery" of a principle
which, when understood, allows humans to do things which they could not
previously understand.example: magnets.
Sometimes an invention has strong
social consequences which are beneficial eg. paper for communicating; and
sometimes an invention or discovery has very negative consequences, eg.
gunpowder used to propel projectiles
You task is to choose
a person (or group of people) from history (any time period) and describe:
1. The main discovery / invention
that they are most famous for
This must be something with
clear technological implications, and not just pure science
2. Describe the environments
effecting the inventor
Personal characteristics which
may have contributed to her/his discovering/inventing a particular thing
political circumstances effecting
social situations effecting
the inventor, or effecting the people using the invention
geographic circumstances can
mean mountains, rivers, great distances etc. which provide challenges -
for which there is some application of technology
cultural circumstances that
effected the inventor and the people using the invention, eg. slavery,
language barriers, living arrangements
3. Describe any related
previous inventions, discoveries that may have allowed this new invention
note any associated individuals,
eg. Thomas Newcomen improved on the steam engine
of Thomas Savery
4. The long-term results
of this person's most famous discovery / invention
example: the compass allowed
people to sail ships long distance out of sight of land and allowed cultures
to interact and trade where previously this was not possible
5. Your opinion as to
whether he / she could have done anything different to make the discovery
/ invention have an even more positive consequence.
If the invention
is not identified with a specific person you may focus on describing
the people in that society in general, instead of a specific person.
This assignment is worth 10%
For example, the technology
of using the wheel, to make a cart or wagon, allowed heavier loads to be
carried longer distances - thereby allowing people to trade and barter
for more things (instead of just what they could carry on their backs).
For example, the North American
Indians had a very advanced process to make birch bark canoes - when the
Europeans came, using this technology allowed them to travel far distances
by water, and easily carry the light canoes over obstacles
For example, no specific Roman
was identified with "inventing" aqueducts, but the use of this technology
had very significant consequences because it allowed people in cities to
obtain water without having to individually bring water from outside the
city each day
Marks given will reflect
If you use sources from the
Internet, do not plagiarize - quote them the way you would any other source.
how completely you cover the
principle questions set out above
the effort to which you
went to obtain information that full describes the person and circumstances
appearance: spelling, grammar,
To give you some assistance
in looking for names of famous engineers and technological people, you
may try these web sites for some leads. DO NOT rely solely on these sites,
this is just to give you a bit of a "jump start".
If you have any problems
- come and speak to me. Prof. Tim Richardson
|This is an alphabetically
ordered index of many famous scientists. Not all of these people are appropriate
for your project - you have to pick someone who has a technological consequence.
|This is a large index that
contains short descriptions of almost every technological invention of
significance. You have to click around a bit to find something interesting.
This will be a helpful start, but the entries are a bit short so you will
have to access other sources as well - but this is a good starting place.
|Spartacus Internet Encyclopedia
|Massive web site with bios
on British Scientists and Engineers, covering 1700 - 1900