« Neither Smith nor Corbyn | Main | Meritocracy vs freedom »

September 08, 2016


Eddie the Vulture

Of course newer isn't always better. For example, how do you fly to New York from Heathrow in 3hr 20min now? On a smaller note, starting with the Ford Cortina in 1964 and carrying through to Lotus sportscars of the era, you could have cool air in your face with warm air to your legs (to dry your rain-soaked trousers), but now you can't.
But it sometimes is. Those fly-out trafficators weren't better than flashing indicators.

Jim M.

"Those fly-out trafficators weren't better than flashing indicators."

But they could be interpreted as a triumph of style over efficiency, a reminder that even whimsy can add value.

Enough with your hard-hearted efficiency drive; Bring on the flappy flaggy things!

(We can, I think, afford a moment or two of levity as in today's contribution Chris has failed to mention The Bearded One, so the comments section should be relatively light. No clickbait for Mr Dillow!) ;)

The Philosopher

Progress is stopped also purposely as the chinese explorer in 1700s found out (i forgot his name).

What broke the logjam in the 20th century was the bolsheviks scaring the shit out of the plutocrats and church enough to provide space for higher level non pluto children to espouse ideas hitherto blocked.

Knowledge generation is a political economy problem. Not a technical one as the author inadvertedly points out.

Today the blank state destroys many advances and saddles many institutions with censorship and placing low iq minorities in positions of knowledge creation and destruction. Often their genetics override truth.

This a reason behind the replicaion crisis in psychology for instance.

You may disagree. Your "opinion" was formed in your childhood by the same oligarchy for extractive purposes. Great philosophers had to unlearn more than learn.

Darwin and galton know very well that enlightenment is not about making people autistic surplus producers. Are you sure you want real intellectual progress? It is not too late to hold fast to your anchored teddy bears. I must warn you that knowledge acquisition is an emotional problem, not cognitive.


"The steam engine was invented in the first century".

But it wasn't. The aeolipile described by Heron was just a toy: there's no evidence that it was ever used as an engine. Newcomen invented the steam engine.


It would be more accurate to say that no-one invented the steam engine as its principles of operation were clear before anyone could build an economically-efficient example. Newcomen's ingenuity consisted of finding a practical workaround; oakum packing would expand in contact with the team to form a low-friction seal. Later, Watt wouldn't need this fix as by then engineers like his friend Brindley could deliver much better tolerances.

Joe Mckay

Steven pool recently published a book on this topic:


Joe Mckay

Yikes- that should be Steven Poole of course.

I am currently reading the book. It is good so far. Really interesting topic.


Ahh .. I meant Boulton not Brindley. Not enough coffee this morning. Apologies.


Roman Concrete, is a lost technology.


"Recent scientific breakthroughs examining Roman concrete are gathering media and industry attention.[11][12] Because of its unusual durability, longevity and lessened environmental footprint, corporations and municipalities are starting to explore the use of Roman-style concrete in North America, substituting the volcanic ash with coal fly ash that has similar properties. Proponents claim that concrete made with fly ash can cost up to 60% less because it requires less aggregate, and that it has a smaller environmental footprint due to its lower cooking temperature and much longer lifespan.[13] Usable examples of Roman concrete exposed to harsh marine environments have been found to be 2000 years old with little or no wear.[14]"

Even I am beginning to doubt I exist, I post therefore I am - Apologies to Descartes


The Roman cataract operation was probably couching: pushing the lens back into the eye. It wasn't forgotten, it just wasn't very good. It can hardly be described as having been rediscovered in the 20th century, the newer techniques are completely different and better.

Interestingly J. S. Bach had his cataracts couched. Apparently it was as successful as the operation could be. He died the next day. One thing the Romans were superior at was anaesthetics!

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad