Archives April 2013

Coal mining is difficult and risky work, and one of the dangers in the mine shafts is flooding. While this is something modern equipment can easily handle, the best remedy for flooding in the late seventeenth century was baling with a bucket. The problem caught the attention of English military engineer Thomas Savery (c. 1650-1715), who set out to make draining faster and easier. Savery's solution was to fight fire with fire, or in this case, fight water with steam. Steam's power had been revealed by French physicist Denis Papin and his pressure cooker in 1679. Papin had observed that bottled-up steam lifted the cooker's lid, and he envisioned steam doing the same to a piston in an engine. Papin's work inspired Savery to put steam to work in the mines. In 1698 Savery patented "The Miner's Friend," a rudimentary steam engine for pumping water from mine shafts. Savery's device more...

With the transition from horse and buggy to more modern modes of transportation, faster vehicles capable of longer distances of travel became the norm. The wheels on such vehicles obviously became quite important—the wood and metal constructs that initially performed well on wagons were not as well suited to automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles. Needing a material with added durability and also cushioning, early tire manufacturers turned to rubber. Initially composed of solid rubber, the first tires were durable, but also heavy and rough on roads. Though it had been invented earlier, the pneumatic tire found a niche again in the early 1900s in the form of bicycle tires. The idea soon spread to cars, where the new inflatable tires were lighter and provided better shock absorption, allowing for a smoother ride. These early tires consisted of an inner inflatable tube paired with an outer tire that provided protection and traction. more...

What you get through your own labour gives you much more pleasure than what you inherit or get by sheer luck. The fruits of labour mean the outcome of one's own exertions and endeavours, while the gifts of fortune imply inherited wealth, a legacy or a prize won through a lottery. There is real pleasure in honest labour. A farmer undergoes hard toil in ploughing soil, sowing seeds, watering field, looking after young plants, weeding out unwanted growth, keeping off birds and cattle from damaging crops. But he performs all this cheerfully because he expects to receive his reward. It gives him a thrill to see the harvest ready. It refreshes his eyes to behold the ripe corn. He puts his sickle to grain and derives infinite joy by reaping harvest. His labours have borne rich fruit and his happiness is unlimited. Similar is the case of a business man more...

The human torso contains up to 26 feet (8 m) of intestines. When someone suffers a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, it can be a difficult task to locate the problem in such an expansive length of tissue. A traditional endoscopy involves a thin fiberoptic tube being Inserted into the patient and images of the walls of the subject's innards being relayed to a television screen. It is a minimally invasive procedure and can cause the patient spmemild discomfort.   However, as the technology of digital cameras has become smaller and more compact, an alternative has appeared. Created by a team of doctors led by Dr. Tarun Mullick in Baltimore, Maryland, the first wireless capsule endoscopy unit came into being in 1985. The camera-in-a-capsule is useful for spotting things such as vascular lesions, tumors, celiac disease, and Crohn's disease in areas that other noninvasive methods fail to reach. The capsule more...

"The valves and chambers were not unlike the moving eyes and dosing mouth of a puppet." Paul Winchell The artificial heart is a machine that pumps blood around the body and is designed to replace the natural heart when it no longer works efficiently due to conditions such as heart failure. Paul Winchell (1922-2005), a U.S. television ventriloguist, was the unlikely inventor of the artificial heart. At a cast party, Winchell met surgeon Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver for choking. After observing Heimlich in his operating room, Winchell thought that an artificial heart could keep blood pumping in during difficult open-heart procedures. With Heimlich's advice, Winchell designed an artificial heart and built the first prototype. He filed for a patent in .1956, which he received in 1963. Winchell donated the rights to his design to the University of-Utah, allowing Robert Jarvik and others to build an artificial more...

"On their new 150-inch screen; 'Can you imagine watching the Olympics on this baby?'" Toshihiro Sakamoto, Panasonic president The plasma screen was invented in 1964 by Donald Bitzer, Gene Slottow, and Robert Wilson at the University of Illinois. It was an alternative to the traditional television set that used an electron gun inside a glass tube to excite atoms of phosphorous coated on the inside of the screen, making them glow. The need for the electron gun and tube meant that a normal television set required depth, making it bulky. The plasma screen uses different technology. Just behind the screen are hundreds of thousands of tiny cells containing xenon and neon gas, with electrodes behind them. An electric charge from these electrodes cart make the gas temporarily become a glowing ionized gas—a plasma. The same physics underlie the tendrils in a plasma ball, as well as the aurora. Unlike traditional more...

Around 9500 B.C.E., in a number of populations distant from one another, people began to select and cultivate plants for food and other purposes. These people were the first farmers. In what is now known as the Fertile Crescent in Southwest Asia, small populations engaged in small-scale farming and began to grow the eight founder crops of agriculture—emmer and einkorn wheat, hulled barley, bitter vetch, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and flax. However, it took thousands of years before the farmers developed the practices and technologies necessary to enable cultivation of the land on a larger scale. In 5500 B.C.E. the first plow, a tool used to prepare the soil for planting, was developed in Mesopotamia by the Indus Valley Civilization. It was known as the scratch plow and represented one of the greatest advances in agriculture. It consisted simply of a wooden stick attached to a wooden frame, but was able more...

When engines were invented in the early nineteenth century, they were quickly adapted for use in farming—at first just to drive farm machinery, using the engine to move other equipment, but not itself. When steam-traction engines were introduced in 1868, they were used only on the roads to haul timber and other heavy loads around. Gradually, however, they came to be used in the fields, dragging plows behind them. One of the biggest obstacles facing the traction engines was their wheels. On soft soil, thin wheels just sank, so the wheels were fitted with wide metal tires to spread out the weight. These wheels lacked grip and got people looking for other ways to spread the weight. In 1904, Benjamin Holt (1849-1920) tested the first tractor with tracks instead of wheels and went on to form a company that became Caterpillar. In 1932 the metal tires were replaced with rubber more...

The electric drill embodies do-it-yourself (DIY). Factor in its significance in the construction and manufacturing industries, and the invention of the electric drill is highly important. For this we can thank electrical engineer Arthur Arnot (1865-1946), who built the first electric drill for use in the mining industry The concept of the drill is thousands of years old— bow drills were used by the Egyptians to make fire through friction as well as boring holes in wood. The action of a rotating head, moved by a "bow" wrapped around the shaft of the drill, was sufficient to make a hole into the surface. In essence, modern electric drills operate on a similar principle, except the power is supplied by electricity ratherthan by hand. Arnot was born in Scotland and studied as an electrical engineer before going to work at the Grosvenor Gallery Power Station in 1885. Four years later, Arnot more...

The invention of the ski has contributed greatly to society for the past 5,000 years. Unlike today, early skis were not used for fun and leisure but for work and transportation, playing a key role in both hunting and warfare. They were made of wood and were not designed for speed: They simply served the purpose of keeping the traveler on top of the snow, with walking sticks employed to keep balance. Hunters have been using skis to chase animals in ice-covered terrain since around 3000 B.C.E., when the Lapps from Sapmi (a territory incorporating parts of present-day Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia) began to use skis extensively. However, it is not clear who invented skiing. The world's oldest surviving ski dates back to around 3000 B.C.E. and was discovered at Kalvtrask, northern Sweden, in 1924. It is 80 inches (204 cm) long and 6 inches (15.5 cm) wide, that more...


Archive


You need to login to perform this action.
You will be redirected in 3 sec spinner

Free
Videos