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tuffel999
2003-Oct-28, 09:48 PM
I wasn't real sure where to post this but it does have several astronomy related ones in it. If it needs to be moved please do.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/Columns/?Article=scientificdiscoveries

daver
2003-Oct-28, 10:42 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure i'd have put the Pythagorean theorem in there. The idea of mathematical proofs is a good one, but not all that closely related to science. Pythagoras and Aristotle seemed more on the side of numerical mysticism, a belief system antithetical to science. It would have been nicer to work in Archimedes somehow.

Evil_Bomber
2003-Oct-28, 11:52 PM
I'd have to question Pythagoras as well. I agree that he was one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians to ever live. However, it would be more accurate to say that he was merging Mathematics and Philosophy than Math & Physics. Also, he was not open with his findings. From what I've read, he formed a secret society to guard the secrets of the universe they learned. Finally, some question whether the Pythagorean Theorem was created by Pythgoras or one of his students. Pythagoras adamantly denied the existance of irrational numbers since they did not fit into the Philisophical view of an imperfect universe, and the Pythagorean Theorem very easily leads to the conclusion of irrational numbers. Of course, this will probably never be answered conclusively.

Personally, I would have probably substituted either Euclid's 5 Axiom's of (Euclean) Geometry, or Archimedes' development of Integral Calculus almost 2000 years before Newton.

tuffel999
2003-Oct-29, 12:04 AM
I agree there are some I would change as well so lets setup our own list.

1. Microorganisms(ok I am a little biased here but it does affect everyones life daily)

2. Theory of Evolution.

3. Laws of motion.

4. Heliocentric theory.
.................................................t hose would be my top four I have to think a while on the rest.

nexus
2003-Oct-29, 12:13 AM
What about spoken language and written word, could they be included?

tuffel999
2003-Oct-29, 12:15 AM
I don't know if they are really classified as scientific in nature. So for right now lets not. Maybe another thread in babbling to address this?

daver
2003-Oct-29, 01:23 AM
I don't know if they are really classified as scientific in nature. So for right now lets not. Maybe another thread in babbling to address this?

Agreed, it does fit better in Babbling, but maybe we can bring it back again to astronomy. Astronomy has been called the first science, but there don't appear to be any purely astronomical entries here. What astronomical discoveries would you put as most influential as science as a whole?

I'll throw some out, just for starters:

Unknown--seasons. Nature has regular patterns; these can be predicted with some accuracy.

Unknown--eclipses. Eclipses also follow a regular pattern. (i'm not too keen on this one, but i thought i'd throw it out)

Ancient greek attempts to measure the size of the earth, the distance to the moon, the distance to the sun (well, that one didn't work so well).

Copernicus--the Earth is not the center of the Universe (but planets still moved in epicycles).

Kepler--planetary orbits follow certain fixed laws, tides, philosophy that the Universe followed certain laws, which could be determined by observation.

Galileo--laws of motion, observation of "hidden" astronomical objects, observation of moons of Jupiter (and some blatant examples of objects which did not revolve about the earth).

Newton

Normandy6644
2003-Oct-29, 01:25 AM
As difficult as it is to pick only ten, I think a few others are worth mentioning.

Faraday's Law of Induction (as well as his statement of the conservation of energy)

The development of quantum mechanics

Maxwell's Theories

A lot of the Greek mathematicians (Archimedes, Euclid immeadiately come to mind)

I'm sure there are many others, but these are just a quick few I thought of.

Jobe
2003-Oct-29, 04:20 AM
here's a few I'd add

Calculus: Isaac Newton, Gauss, et al
Computer Science: Alan Turing, Babbage, et al

There is another major great scientific discovery that has been overlooked. The discovery of the beneficial effects of caffeine when ingested by human beings. This discovery has arguably benefitted science and humanity as a whole more than anything else I can think of.

TriangleMan
2003-Oct-29, 12:39 PM
I think a few others are worth mentioning.
<snip>
Maxwell's Theories


As soon as I saw the list I immediately thought of Maxwell too. I figured Mendel & Volta should have been off the list in favour of Maxwell and another chemist. All of chemistry gets only one item on the list! My vote (combined physics/chemisty) would be for understanding of radioactive elements and research into nuclear reactions.

Donwulff
2003-Oct-29, 01:12 PM
In line with seasons and eclipses, why hasn't anyone suggested fire and the wheel yet? ;)

Normandy6644
2003-Oct-29, 01:28 PM
In line with seasons and eclipses, why hasn't anyone suggested fire and the wheel yet? ;)

Because those were taught to us by aliens, obviously. :lol:

kilopi
2003-Oct-29, 03:16 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure i'd have put the Pythagorean theorem in there. The idea of mathematical proofs is a good one, but not all that closely related to science.
As it says, "But it's not the theorem per se that matters; it's the bigger idea it reflected. Pythagoras taught that numbers were the real reality, that the core of the physical world was mathematical."

It's not the idea of proofs--it's the idea that reality can be expressed mathematically. That's fundamental to physics.

Eroica
2003-Oct-29, 05:34 PM
Sliced Bread! :P

Doodler
2003-Oct-29, 06:41 PM
The most important discoveries in my opinion in no particular order:

1. Penicillin
2. Transistors
3. Plastics
4. Gunpowder
5. Heavier than air flight
6. Internal combustion engines
7. Longitudinal clocks
8. Metallurgy (from copper to bronze to iron to steel and now into composites)
9. Animal Husbandry (domestication and breeding of animals to enhance benficial traits)
10. Agriculture (domestication and breeding of plants to produce beneficial traits)

Maybe not the most profound list, but the most practical and influential to humanity at large.

nebularain
2003-Oct-29, 07:19 PM
Astronomy has been called the first science,

Why astronomy and not agriculture?


10. Agriculture (domestication and breeding of plants to produce beneficial traits)

OK, someone mentioned it, at least!

daver
2003-Oct-29, 07:26 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure i'd have put the Pythagorean theorem in there. The idea of mathematical proofs is a good one, but not all that closely related to science.
As it says, "But it's not the theorem per se that matters; it's the bigger idea it reflected. Pythagoras taught that numbers were the real reality, that the core of the physical world was mathematical."

It's not the idea of proofs--it's the idea that reality can be expressed mathematically. That's fundamental to physics.

No. Being able to measure and express relationships mathematically is fundamental to physics. But the idea that numbers were the real reality is pure mysticism, and has nothing to do with physics or science--it's further from physics than astrology is from astronomy.

daver
2003-Oct-29, 07:40 PM
Astronomy has been called the first science,
Why astronomy and not agriculture?

I don't know--maybe because nobody listens to farmers?

I suppose for a real answer you'd need to find some way of characterising "science".

Musashi
2003-Oct-29, 07:41 PM
Why astronomy and not agriculture?

People were probably pontificating about the stars before they were growing crops or hearding animals.

kilopi
2003-Oct-29, 08:46 PM
No. Being able to measure and express relationships mathematically is fundamental to physics. But the idea that numbers were the real reality is pure mysticism, and has nothing to do with physics or science--it's further from physics than astrology is from astronomy.
Well, Pythagorus did precede astrology, so that makes sense that it is less like our modern science. However, I don't think you can dismiss their contribution as just mysticism--the pythagorean theorem is too useful. Three hundred years later, Euclid codified geometry, and we all know how important that was to physical theory--but no one complains that lines and planes are not "real."

daver
2003-Oct-29, 10:32 PM
Well, Pythagorus did precede astrology, so that makes sense that it is less like our modern science. However, I don't think you can dismiss their contribution as just mysticism--the pythagorean theorem is too useful. Three hundred years later, Euclid codified geometry, and we all know how important that was to physical theory--but no one complains that lines and planes are not "real."
Hmm, i thought Babylonian astrology was quite a bit older. And I agree that the Pythagorean theorem is useful, but it was known long before Pythagoras. The use of geometry to measure land also predates Pythagoras. There is a claim that the Pythagoreans helped to abstract the concept of number (2+2=4, not 2 ships + 2 ships = 4 ships); this is certainly an important step, but I'm not certain how original this was to Pythagoras.

I agree that Pythagoras and his society were important to the development of mathematics (which could have been even more important if he hadn't founded his society as a mystery cult); it's his contribution to science that i disagree with (his society did recognize that Venus was both the morning star and the evening star, something i think the Babylonians missed).

Eroica
2003-Oct-30, 08:16 AM
([Pythagoras's] society did recognize that Venus was both the morning star and the evening star, something I think the Babylonians missed).
Not true. The Venus tablets record the risings and settings of Venus for the 21 years of the reign of Ammi-saduqa, King of Babylon. His dates are disputed but I'd place him around 1420-1400 BCE, almost a millennium before Pythagoras.

nebularain
2003-Oct-30, 01:06 PM
Astronomy has been called the first science,
Why astronomy and not agriculture?

I don't know--maybe because nobody listens to farmers?

I suppose for a real answer you'd need to find some way of characterising "science".

Dealing with plants = Biology = Science. :wink:


People were probably pontificating about the stars before they were growing crops or hearding animals.

Were they "pontification about the stars" scientifically or religiously?

kilopi
2003-Oct-30, 04:24 PM
Hmm, i thought Babylonian astrology was quite a bit older.
I assumed you meant the modern astrology, when you compared it to astronomy.


And I agree that the Pythagorean theorem is useful, but it was known long before Pythagoras. The use of geometry to measure land also predates Pythagoras. There is a claim that the Pythagoreans helped to abstract the concept of number (2+2=4, not 2 ships + 2 ships = 4 ships); this is certainly an important step, but I'm not certain how original this was to Pythagoras.
That's a dispute over priority, but the list is not a list of discovers per se, it's a list of discoveries. Whoever first discovered the pythagorean theorem, it's still called the pythagorean theorem. The list goes on to point out that it represents humankind's recognition of math as one of the fundamentals to the understanding of the world around us.


I agree that Pythagoras and his society were important to the development of mathematics (which could have been even more important if he hadn't founded his society as a mystery cult); it's his contribution to science that i disagree with
Again, the pythagorean society is not on the list.

daver
2003-Oct-30, 05:47 PM
Not true. The Venus tablets record the risings and settings of Venus for the 21 years of the reign of Ammi-saduqa, King of Babylon. His dates are disputed but I'd place him around 1420-1400 BCE, almost a millennium before Pythagoras.
Thanks.

Ripper
2003-Oct-30, 06:38 PM
The most important discoveries in my opinion in no particular order:

1. Penicillin
2. Transistors
3. Plastics
4. Gunpowder
5. Heavier than air flight
6. Internal combustion engines
7. Longitudinal clocks
8. Metallurgy (from copper to bronze to iron to steel and now into composites)
9. Animal Husbandry (domestication and breeding of animals to enhance benficial traits)
10. Agriculture (domestication and breeding of plants to produce beneficial traits)

Maybe not the most profound list, but the most practical and influential to humanity at large.

I am with Doodler here. I am a big fan of gunpowder. It ended the tyranny of the armored knight and the whole feudal system. Social change aside, it was the first practical application of chemical energy.

daver
2003-Oct-30, 06:58 PM
The list goes on to point out that it represents humankind's recognition of math as one of the fundamentals to the understanding of the world around us.

I agree with his (and your) point, that math is essential to understanding how the world works, i don't think that the Pythagorean theorem is a particularly good example of this. I'd really like something more tied to physics and experimentation--v=at or thereabouts. But the earliest examples of those i can think of are a couple of millenia later.

The author makes a few other statements about Pythagoras that seem dubious: one, that Pythagoras went around telling everyone about his theory, and two, that Pythagoras would have been proud of Newton for developing his laws of motion. The first doesn't seem likely to me, in that Pythagoras and his society were very much a secret society--they only shared their findings with members. The second is perhaps colored by my impression of some later Greek philosophers (like Aristotle), but i just don't think he would be that impressed by f = ma.

informant
2003-Oct-30, 08:15 PM
Guys...guys...
What the list says is the Pythagorean Theorem. Contrary to what terminology might suggest, the Pythagorean Theorem was known well before Pythagoras, the man. The ancient Babylonians used it. Practically all human civilizations eventually discovered it, often independently.

And I agree with the inclusion of the PT in the list. It isn't too much of an exaggeration to say that it's the one of first "big" results in mathematics, and it's indirectly related to physics, through geometry.

Oops! Edited to censor two errors. :oops:

And here (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/MinkowskiSpace.html) is an example of how, in a way, we're still living in the shadow of the PT.

mike alexander
2003-Oct-30, 08:59 PM
As an archetype I have to agree with the Pythagorean Theorem being there (whether it was Pythagoras or Roger Bacon who actually dicsovered it is irrelevant). I also disagree with the reason it is there (at least as I understood it after reading).

It was the concept of logical proof that was important. Whether it was Tahles or Pythy or whomever, the formal idea of a proof was a startling innovation. The Egyptians had 3/4/5 right triangles, but the generalization (and proof of generalization) opens up so much. If nothing else, the sharpening of the rational and skeptical faculties used by so few humans even today.

Pinemarten
2003-Oct-31, 01:01 AM
Hmm. I'm not sure i'd have put the Pythagorean theorem in there. The idea of mathematical proofs is a good one, but not all that closely related to science. Pythagoras and Aristotle seemed more on the side of numerical mysticism, a belief system antithetical to science. It would have been nicer to work in Archimedes somehow.

I disagree. The formula has been used in various ways to calculate missing sides of triangles; from force vectors to electricity.
Electricity travels in triangles.
When I went to electrical school, many students used a^2 + b^2 = c^2, and found it faster and easier than SOHCAHTOA.

Someone mentioned the transistor, but I would refine it to the PN junction of semi-conductors.

kilopi
2003-Oct-31, 01:29 AM
The author makes a few other statements about Pythagoras that seem dubious: one, that Pythagoras went around telling everyone about his theory, and two, that Pythagoras would have been proud of Newton for developing his laws of motion. The first doesn't seem likely to me, in that Pythagoras and his society were very much a secret society--they only shared their findings with members.
Perhaps you should read this (http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Pythagoras.html).

The second is perhaps colored by my impression of some later Greek philosophers (like Aristotle), but i just don't think he would be that impressed by f = ma.
The author remarks that he would have been impressed by Newton's formulating the laws of nature in mathematics. You have to admit that that's right up Pythagoras's alley.

Guys...guys...
What the list says is the Pythagorean Theorem. Contrary to what terminology might suggest, the Pythagorean Theorem was known well before Pythagoras, the man. The ancient Babylonians used it. Practically all human civilizations eventually discovered it, often independently.
Watt I said.

daver
2003-Oct-31, 02:27 AM
Perhaps you should read this (http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Pythagoras.html).

Actually, I did read that. I should have posted that link in some of my earlier rants.


The author remarks that he would have been impressed by Newton's formulating the laws of nature in mathematics. You have to admit that that's right up Pythagoras's alley.

I can't say. I believe that Pythagoras didn't conceive of multiplication so much as multiplication but the area of the described rectangle--f = ma might have been a bit too abstract. On the other hand, the Pythagoreans did use geometrical constructs to solve quadratic equations, so it might not have been that much of a stretch.

I think Pythagoras would have been really impressed by a triangle of forces--the elegance and simplicity of it seems like it would have really appealed to him.

Ilya
2003-Oct-31, 02:58 AM
The most important discoveries in my opinion in no particular order:

1. Penicillin
2. Transistors
3. Plastics
4. Gunpowder
5. Heavier than air flight
6. Internal combustion engines
7. Longitudinal clocks
8. Metallurgy (from copper to bronze to iron to steel and now into composites)
9. Animal Husbandry (domestication and breeding of animals to enhance benficial traits)
10. Agriculture (domestication and breeding of plants to produce beneficial traits)


All of these items (and most in the original list) are not scientific discoveries but inventions - practical applications of natural phenomena rather than previously unrecognized phenomena. I don't have time right now to come up with a list of 10 most important discoveries, but I happen to agree with Dr. Bob Berman (columnist in "Astronomy" magazine) on what was the most stunning discovery of all times.

Planet Uranus.

After you swallow your "Huh?", try to imagine what it was like to be an educated person in 1781, and to learn that there is sixth planet.

The five planets, "wandering stars" - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, - were a fixture of human knowledge for as long as there was civilization. It was a fact as obvious and undisputed as water being wet or fire being hot. When Copernicus knocked Earth from its central place and included it in the list of planets, it was quite a shock, but it was accepted slowly, over a course of about 100 years. Moreover, understanding Copernicus' work required considerable effort - heliocentricity was not something one could simply point at and say "Look, there it is!" In other words, it was not a sudden sea change in perception.

And once Earth being a planet became universally accepted, there were still only five "wandering stars" in the sky. Absolutely no one ever speculated that there may be more. No one ever looked for one. And then, March 13, 1781 Herschel pointed his telescope... and there it was. An unmistakable disk. One of the simplest, absolute truths known since antiquity was overturned overnight. No need for complicated mathematics, nothing to debate or argue - anyone could look through the telescope and see for themselves. In fact, people with sharp enough eyes did not need a telescope - Uranus is just at the limit of naked-eye visibility.

If someone climbed a mountain and discovered that clouds are edible, or descended into cave and found that Earth is really hollow, it would have been about on the same level of "stunning". Never before and never after had such a common knowledge been overturned in so easily grasped a manned. Theory of Relativity overturned things as much or more, but very few could grasp it at first. Likewise Uncertainty Principle, and few other things. But doubling the size of Solar System overnight... it showed to everyone that nothing in the world is certain.

informant
2003-Oct-31, 01:23 PM
Watt I said.
Yes, you did (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=161139#161139). The main point of the author of the list does seem to be:


But it's not the theorem per se that matters; it's the bigger idea it reflected. Pythagoras taught that numbers were the real reality, that the core of the physical world was mathematical. That's why he went around telling everyone, 'Here's a pure idea that is true of every actual object of a certain shape.' Coupling physics to mathematics proved to be one of the most fruitful marriages of all time. Even now we regard a scientific theory as really reliable if it can be proven mathematically.
I must agree with him. The coupling of physics, and later other sciences, to mathematics was extremely important for science. (He is not talking about mathematical proof.)
On the other hand, it isn’t easy to pin down when exactly that started to happen. With Kepler?… With Galileo?… With Archimedes?… With the Pythagorean Theorem?… With geometry?… With arithmetic?…

kilopi
2003-Nov-01, 03:35 PM
On the other hand, it isn’t easy to pin down when exactly that started to happen. With Kepler?… With Galileo?… With Archimedes?… With the Pythagorean Theorem?… With geometry?… With arithmetic?…
Except for arithmetic, the pythagorean theorem predates all of those.

I suppose language and arithmetic would be good candidates for great discoveries.

daver
2003-Nov-03, 07:22 PM
On the other hand, it isn?t easy to pin down when exactly that started to happen. With Kepler?? With Galileo?? With Archimedes?? With the Pythagorean Theorem?? With geometry?? With arithmetic??
Except for arithmetic, the pythagorean theorem predates all of those.

I think you missed geometry in the list, unless you're of the opinion that true geometry didn't begin until Euclid.

informant
2003-Nov-03, 07:30 PM
The Pythagorean Theorem predates Euclid.

Vallkynn
2008-Nov-04, 10:20 AM
The most important discoveries in my opinion in no particular order:

1. Penicillin
2. Transistors
3. Plastics
4. Gunpowder
5. Heavier than air flight
6. Internal combustion engines
7. Longitudinal clocks
8. Metallurgy (from copper to bronze to iron to steel and now into composites)
9. Animal Husbandry (domestication and breeding of animals to enhance benficial traits)
10. Agriculture (domestication and breeding of plants to produce beneficial traits)

Maybe not the most profound list, but the most practical and influential to humanity at large.

You're mixing discoveries with inventions. A discovery can be used in an invention.

Penicillin is a discovery indeed
Transistors are an invention
Plastics are an invention
Gunpowder is an invention
Heavier than air flight is an invention
Internal combustion engines is an invention
Longitudinal clocks - What is this ?
Metallurgy is a set of techniques, a mix of discoveries and inventions
Animal Husbandry is a set of techniques, a mix of discoveries and inventions
Agriculture is a set of techniques, a mix of discoveries and inventions

Cheers

Vallkynn
2008-Nov-04, 10:23 AM
I would exchange the "Nature of Light " by Maxwell Theories.

geonuc
2008-Nov-04, 11:27 AM
I hope I don't have to defend a five year old post.

timb
2008-Nov-04, 11:32 AM
In line with seasons and eclipses, why hasn't anyone suggested fire and the wheel yet? ;)

Pre-scientific. Fire was probably used if not mastered by homo ergaster, not strictly human.

Vallkynn
2008-Nov-04, 04:57 PM
I hope I don't have to defend a five year old post.

Why not? The topic is still here, right ?

Oh, I forgot, in this forum we can't repeat discussions, so please, could anyone make a list of the forbidden topics so I can avoid repetitions and stop anoying seniors busy minds?

Thanks a lot

01101001
2008-Nov-04, 05:29 PM
Oh, I forgot, in this forum we can't repeat discussions [...]

Maybe the rules have drifted since I last read them. This doesn't sound familiar. Could you provide a pointer to which rule forbids repeating any kind of discussion?

There are rules about rehashing Against-the-Mainstream and Conspiracy-Theories topics -- because of their special round-and-round nature.

But, I don't recall anything that would apply to a topic like the one you find yourself discussing now. Have you seen that?

peter eldergill
2008-Nov-04, 06:08 PM
Cripes you don't have to get snarky about it, Vallkyn

I didn't even notice it was an old thread until I saw that Triangle Man was a poster. Whatever happened to him anyways?

Pete

BobtheEnforcer
2008-Nov-07, 06:04 AM
Plate tectonics!!!!

John Jaksich
2008-Nov-15, 07:06 AM
Everyone has seemingly posted excellent answers---but to able to perform any of these tasks would require "man's" first notion of self-awareness to able to recognize that they have some control over their own destiny-- Although this may border on fuzzy-science--some may categorize it as science, just the same... but not in the modern sense: man's ability to hunt/gather in groups and possess the ability to take down "large" prey for the benefit of the group.

Ilya
2008-Nov-19, 07:06 PM
No comments on my "Uranus" claim? ;)

If someone climbed a mountain and discovered that clouds are edible, or descended into cave and found that Earth is really hollow, it would have been about on the same level of "stunning". Never before and never after had such a common knowledge been overturned in so easily grasped a manned. Theory of Relativity overturned things as much or more, but very few could grasp it at first. Likewise Uncertainty Principle, and few other things. But doubling the size of Solar System overnight... it showed to everyone that nothing in the world is certain.

PraedSt
2008-Nov-19, 07:16 PM
That's a 5 yr old claim! Statute of limitations has expired: your Uranus claim wins by default. :D

armigy
2009-Mar-16, 10:13 AM
Well, Pythagorus did precede astrology, so that makes sense that it is less like our modern science. However, I don't think you can dismiss their contribution as just mysticism--the pythagorean theorem is too useful. Three hundred years later, Euclid codified geometry, and we all know how important that was to physical theory--but no one complains that lines and planes are not "real."

It's important!

mugaliens
2009-Mar-16, 05:24 PM
I (almost) totally disagree with with these "top 10."

Here's why:

1. Pythagorus: Great guy! But he wasn't the one who coupled math with physical reality. Millennia before his time, people were counting: kills, skins, wives...

2. Microorganisms: Great guys! Seriously - we couldn't live without them, as our world would quick bog down in a protein goo. But discovering them hasn't helped us all that much as a species. In fact, some would claim all the lives we've saved is counterevolutionary (don't get me wrong - I'd have died, four times, if it weren't for antibiotics).

3. The Laws of Motion! Oh, heck yeah - without this so much of what we do and how we do it today would be impossible. Go Newton!

4. The Structure of Matter: Gadzooks! Harnessing the atom for electricity is one thing! But that would have been possible without knowing more details, as a natura offshoot from Madame Curie's experiments with radium. Furthermore, the periodic table of the elements and the ability to combine them to form various compounds, while helped, do not require knowing the structure of matter.

5. Circulation of Blood. Again, many lives saved. See Microorganisms.

6. Electrical Currents: Here's where the rubber meets the road - this is a good one, as knowledge in this field has totally altered our world. Look at what I'm typing! Electric currents...

7. Evolution of Species (yawn) we'd have evolved anyway... While interesting, it's hardly a world-changer. Our world began changing, drastically, long before Scopes.

8. Genes (yawn) gene thereapies are still in their infancy, and despite the much-touted claim of possibly being able to cure the common cold, the promises are likely to be as empty as that of interferon.

9. The Four Laws of Thermodynamics! Yeah, Baby! That's what I'm tal... Seriously. See The Laws of Motion. We'd still have had steam locomotives, IC engines, jet engines, and rockets, though. But knowing the laws allowed us to refine our designs quite nicely.

10. The dual nature of light (yawn) good-night, lights out...

I think someone else put up their own top 10, and with a quick glance, I liked theirs a LOT better.

Gillianren
2009-Mar-16, 05:29 PM
Since we're reviving this thread anyway, I might as well point out that the wheel, depending on your standards, was not prescientific. At any rate, no more than animal husbandry and agriculture are. Fire is pre-human, but the wheel was invented in Mesopotamia only a handful of thousand years ago.

Stroller
2009-Mar-17, 01:20 PM
People were probably pontificating about the stars before they were growing crops or hearding animals.

And they used their astronomical knowledge to know when the right time was to sow seed, put bulls to heifers etc.

fifelad55
2009-Mar-18, 04:03 PM
Can anyone explain how each of the world's many languages evolved/

คอบคูฌครัย

Such as the Thai language.

Alan

Gillianren
2009-Mar-18, 05:06 PM
Can anyone explain how each of the world's many languages evolved/

Each? No. Language in general? Sure. I can't help you with Thai; it's not a language I know much about except how it sounds and that names in it are very long. English, though, I've made quite a study of.

Lo, these many years ago, there was a generic Proto-Indo-European language. (At least, that's how common theory goes.) Some 4000 years ago or more, it had broken up into many regional languages. This happens because people separate from one another, and their language drifts. To use the example of the American Indians, the Plains Indians needed a different variety of words that the local tribes here in Washington State. A Comanche, as an example, doesn't need the word for "salmon" that's so vital to the Puyallup. Further, if you've ever played the game known as "telephone" in the US, you know that, when something starts out sounding one way on one end, it sounds completely different by the time it comes out the other side.

So okay. 3000 to 3500 years ago, there was the break of Proto-Germanic. And so forth. Eventually, the Angles and the Saxons brought their Germanic tongues to the British Isles, which were by then populated by people using Celtic languages. That is the start of Old English, that combination of the two--though mostly the Germanic.

In 1066, the Normans invaded what was by then England, bringing with them their French language, itself a descendant of Latin. This then became the language of authority in England, with well over a hundred years going by before any English kind spoke, well, English. The languages blended; it doesn't take much of an ear to determine which words are Old English and which are Norman French, once you know what you're doing.

Time went by. England was a land of many dialects, but with the invention of the printing press, there started to be one unified English language. (There's a story of buying eggs in Kent that I read somewhere that illustrates the problem--there were at least three words for "eggs" in the story.) Now, of course, English had been taking on words from other languages that whole time. Over its history, English has always absorbed words from other languages. But that newly standardized dialect was the beginning of Modern English. Which itself, of course, has continued to change as new words are taken on--and new words are needed!