42 votes
Accepted

How did people make things perfectly straight?

The easiest way to check if something is "straight" is to just look. Humans can pretty much tell if something is not straight, to a certain point. Another easy way is to use a piece of ...
Ronan Paixão's user avatar
32 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

Indeed, it is much easier to manufacture an arc of circle than a straight ruler. When you rub two rulers against each other you obtain an arc of a circle (or a straight line) as their common edge. ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
12 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

To construct a right angle, you take three cords, one of which is three of whatever unit you use, the second four of it, and the third five. Put them together in a triangle and the angle between the ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 619
11 votes

How were sailing warships maneuvered in battle -- who coordinated the actions of all the sailors?

Gerald Edgar's answer is wrong since the question asks about sailing warships in the age of sail and specifically the early 19th century. Rowing galleys were still used occassionally in the early 19th ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
  • 1,288
11 votes
Accepted

How did artillery and physics co-evolve during 1400-1700?

The interaction of physics and artillery begins with Galileo (there was no physics to talk about before that time except the statics). There are pictures in the books before Galileo which show ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
10 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

From Quine's Quiddities, s.v. "Lines": My own heart leaps up a little when I behold what radically dissimilar criteria all attest to one and the same trite trait, the straightness of a line....
msh210's user avatar
  • 201
8 votes
Accepted

Did the Soviet Union have their own discoveries in the development of semiconductors and the semiconductor industry?

Here is a partial translation of a Russian article about the history of semiconductors (part that addresses Soviet contributions): 1948-1950. Not only in the United States, but also in other ...
Moishe Kohan's user avatar
  • 1,746
8 votes
Accepted

"Nuclear fusion is 30 years away" since when?

Although one can find claims that this joke goes back to the 1960s, the joke only really started to bite after the first 30 years of fusion research had passed and we seemed no closer to the goal. ...
David Bailey's user avatar
  • 1,222
6 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

There are quite a few methods. If you take three almost straight objects and grind pairs against each other, they will approach a straight edge. That is, given objects A, B, and C, you grind A and B ...
Acccumulation's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

What is the iodine fax process mentioned in Vannevar Bush's "As we may think"?

I suspect that Bush meant things like the Fultograph (as one example). They used paper that had been soaked in potassium iodide and starch. When electricity is passed through the paper, the iodine is ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 1,197
5 votes

When was double-paned glass first invented and used for insulation?

lmgtfy google cache of mimivanderhave.com 1945 The first double-pane, insulated window was introduced That's without attribution; door and window claims From single to double pane windows… ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
4 votes

How did people realize they could do logic with electronics?

I think the resources listed above are good background references but if you want to know how logic was introduced to actual electronic equipment then consider Claude Shannon. At the age of 21, ...
K7PEH's user avatar
  • 1,129
4 votes

How did the earliest measurements of lasers bounced off of Apollo 11 retroreflectors deal with the light from the Moon and pick out single photons?

The short article in the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science (link, DOI: 10.1109/TNS.1972.4326697, S.K. Poultney "Single Photon Detection and Timing in the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment", ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 1,197
4 votes

What laser technology/ies were first used to bounce off of the Apollo 11 retroreflectors to accurately measure distance to the Moon?

A short article in the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science (link, DOI: 10.1109/TNS.1972.4326697, S.K. Poultney "Single Photon Detection and Timing in the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment", ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 1,197
4 votes

How were sailing warships maneuvered in battle -- who coordinated the actions of all the sailors?

Control of a warship is no different than control of any similar sized sailing ships such as trading galleys or racing yachts. The main difference is racing yacht crews are trained and have lots of ...
slebetman's user avatar
  • 141
3 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

There are good answers here. I would like to add that a great deal of pre-industrial construction is not straight at all. Cathedrals often have walls that bend or kink from one end to the other or ...
David Smith's user avatar
3 votes

Does war speed up technological advancements and research?

In physics, the four most important developments had nothing to with war or the preparation of war: Newtons calculus and his theory of gravitation, Maxwells equations, Einsteins theory of special and ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

Does war speed up technological advancements and research?

Not only war but preparations to war, military-related research had very large influence on the development of science and technology. Of the recent examples I mention GPS, Internet, space ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

How much had the rise of drones been connected with the study of birds?

Drones fly on the same principles as the ordinary airplanes or helicopters. So the main difficulty in developing of drones was the problem how to control them, not how to make them fly. And this ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
3 votes

Why were the first steam engines “atmospheric engines”

The best answer to that question is the following book: The steam engine of Thomas Newcomen by L. T. C. Rolt, J. S. Allen 1977 Moorland Pub. Co. ; New York : Science History Publications, To ...
kevin olsen's user avatar
3 votes

Are there historical origins of "robotic" voices seen in earlier sci fi movies?

The technology is that of the "Voder" and "Vocoder" exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. See the Wikipedia articles on the vocoder and the voder for some explanations and references ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 2,555
2 votes

When did the disciplinary distinction between art, science, and technology occur?

Plato already distinguished between different professions and also different intellectual capacities in his Republic. His master discipline was the statesman who placed all professions in the right ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
2 votes

Are there historical origins of "robotic" voices seen in earlier sci fi movies?

There's a stop, or set of stops, on many cathedral organs called "vox humana." Granted these can only produce human-like vowel sounds, but that's the first "synth" I know of. Now, prior to modern "...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
2 votes

When was the cogwheel gear invented?

In 2006 a fragment of a cogwheel was discovered in Olbia (Italy); the layer where the fragment was found has been dated to the second quarter of the 2nd century BCE (https://www.academia.edu/35795869/...
user2227111's user avatar
2 votes

Which modern sciences/technologies were contingent on the Copernican Revolution, & which could have developed even while believing in geocentrism?

Copernicus theory was crucial for the development of all sciences. It made possible Kepler's discovery of the true planet orbits, and this lead to the discovery of the Law of the Universal gravitation....
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
2 votes

How did people make things perfectly straight?

Just to add to the posts that talk of the need to define tolerance, two examples that I am fond of: The British surveys of northern India during the 19th century, when Mt. Everest was discovered, it ...
John Weeks's user avatar
1 vote

What's the history of the use of crude oil for transportation before the Industrial Revolution?

Indirect uses for transportation: "Petroleum is not a recent discovery, it was known to various ancient peoples in Asia, North Africa, Europe, and America where it seeped to the surface and was ...
akhmeteli's user avatar
  • 961
1 vote

What original mathematics arose from Jacquard loom and similar weaving devices?

Here is a paper examining it with relation to computer science, but I'm not aware of any papers relating it to combinatorics. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:516245/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Lucia's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote

How did people make things perfectly straight?

Since the beginning of time, people discovered that if you rub two stones together with some abrasives in between they form a flat surface. They also discovered that if you rub 2 stones together the ...
dtoubelis's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote

How did people make things perfectly straight?

I'm surprised no one mentioned the Whitworth Three Plates Method, a process that were used to make surfaces very flat using gravity, which you can read about in great detail here: https://...
dappiu's user avatar
  • 111

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