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Mr Darwin's incredible shrinking world: Science and technology in 1859 Kindle Edition
Probably, 1543’s flood happened because Gutenberg’s clever printing press had been around for a century, making it mature technology, but 1859 was a single year of concentrated breakthroughs, all over science and technology.
Among the scientific heavy-hitters, Louis Pasteur’s swan neck flasks had killed off spontaneous generation before the year ended; Charles Darwin's book explaining evolution came out in November; and off in Brno, Gregor Mendel was breeding his peas. John Snow’s cholera map was printed; the work of Ignaz Semmelweis on stopping infection by hand-washing was complete; Joseph Lister took up his chair in surgery in Glasgow, and Florence Nightingale developed a plan for hospital statistics. In geology, Charles Lyell was making loud noises that the planet was far older than the biblical 6000 years. In physics, James Clerk Maxwell determined his distribution law of molecular velocities during the year, and Gustav Kirchhoff related black body radiation to temperature and frequency.
We ended the year with many new things: slide rules and prismatic binoculars, spectroscopes, the gas discharge tube, aluminium that cost less than gold, Bessemer steel, tree ring dating, oil wells, the internal combustion engine, the Riemann hypothesis, the Rankine cycle, mauve and magenta dyes, meteorology, the leotard, the first patent for a brassière, Tabasco sauce, Pimm’s No, 1 Cup, and an amateur astronomers’ guide, Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes nicely matching the first observation of solar flares.
In the northern summer, and electric arc, powered by a steam generator, was towed through the streets of Paris. Gaston Planté invented the storage battery that year, as well. In 1845, there were 900 miles of telegraph line in the US, by early 1859 there were 30,000 miles. By year’s end, many more parts of the world were linked by telegraph cables that could report on Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, Verdi’s A Masked Ball, and Gounod’s Faust, which were competing with Brahms’ first piano concerto, while outside, croquet, lawn tennis and football were suddenly popular. Just back on Verdi, his Aida was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. which was commenced in 1859, alongside a railway line that saved travellers some time. Everything back then had its roots in 1859.
Peter Macinnis is a science writer who often dabbles in historical matters. A one-time fraud investigator, he is always interested in the why and hows of things, which explains how and why he came up with a theory to explain the 1859 effect while wandering quietly around a family wedding, observing human interactions as people strove to find their seats, a curious model of scientific discovery. Once a few people had found and taken their seats, others had reference points to work from, to find their seats. That theory is excellent for explaining the Periodic Table of the elements, and probably also the germ theory of disease, but the new sports, for example, were probably powered by the recent expiry of the patent on lawnmowers.
Some effects were probably fanned by the gold that was coming out of Australia and California, but the main thing was that the world was suddenly getting smaller, as railways, steamships and telegraph lines bound the world together. It opened the way for tourism, which hindsight will probably identify as the key element in spreading the pandemic of the 2020s.
Even now, we find emerging events that have their roots in 1859...
About the Author
- ASIN : B09FHH7G6Q
- Language : English
- File size : 11732 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 283 pages
About the author
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