What if the Industial Revolution started in the 1st century?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by dre38w, Mar 4, 2008.

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  1. dre38w Registered Member

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    I have always wondered what today would be like if Hero of Alexandria's aeolipile invention were to launch the Industrial Revolution back in the first century AD. I just can't even begin to imagine what technology we would have today. That is about two hundred years short of two millenniums before the actual revolution started.

    I just wanted to throw this out there and see what opinions you all have on this topic.

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    Only if time travel were possible...
     
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  3. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    We would have run out of oil by the 3rd century and coal by the 5th century. Today we would be living the Amish way....
     
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  5. kmguru Staff Member

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    Good comment....

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    dre38w, welcome to sciforums....when you get back from your time travel, you just might find we are living the Amish life.....

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  7. dre38w Registered Member

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    :roflmao: Nice. Don't I feel stupid....

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    It's amazing how I didn't take that into consideration. How foolish I feel...

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  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Just look at the difference between the civilization of 18th-century Europe, and especially Britain which spearheaded the Industrial Revolution, and the civilization of 18th-century China, which not only did not invent industry but didn't even adopt it after its foreign invention.

    There were so many differences. Europe had more wealth and especially the investment capital necessary to build a massive industrial infrastructure. European philosophy was built around the individual and focused on a hopeful future, whereas Chinese philosophy was built around the family and focused on a glorious past. Europe had just had a Reformation, Renaissance and Enlightenment; there are many parts of the world where these have still not occurred. England in particular had a movement that reformed agricultural efficiency, freeing up a huge segment of the population to staff industrial processes; China was dependent on family farmers.

    Particular inventions facilitated the invention of industry, particularly the clock which made synchronization of large processes possible and the steam engine which unlocked the chemical energy in fossil fuels. The Chinese were simply not inventors and did not even have a patenting system to reward and encourage the few they had; the Chinese invented printing, but never the printing press that was arguably the prototoype for the entire concept of mass production.

    Now look back with this perspective on the Europe of the Greco-Roman era, and imagine how many major adjustments would have to be made to that society for the system of innovations that comprised the Industrial Revolution to arise. A major issue that doesn't even show up in the England-China comparison is that Classical Europe was a slave economy; a huge percentage of the population lived in squalor and toiled for the enrichment of others. We now know that this is a system of self-limiting prosperity that cannot produce the large surplus needed to fund a Paradigm Shift from agrarianism to industry. The now-obvious inevitable downfall of the American South, with or without the Civil War, testifies to this fundamental truth about work and workers.

    So the interesting question is not how Europe would have changed if the Industrial Revolution had occurred earlier. The question is how it would have had to have changed first, before it could even have happened!
     
  9. kmguru Staff Member

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    As to China, IMHO, perhaps Buddhism has something to do with the industrial progress...be content as to what you have rather than building wealth...it is that desire thing...that they misunderstood....
     
  10. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I didn't take into account the population difference. So assuming that the world's population was like 200 million back then it would have taken a few centuries more to run out of coal and oil. Of course we have to assume that we avoided nuclear war, what I don't think we will be able to avoide for the next few hundred years.

    So most likely we would be living in the Waterworld (Costner movie) way or the Mad Max way, living off of the remains of civilization.
     
  11. domesticated om Interplanetary homesteader Valued Senior Member

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    This is slightly off topic....

    What's the best way to harness the power from the aeolipile?.......assuming you used the design in the exact fashion of hero, and didn't optimize it using anything found in contemporary (last 200 years or so) steam power......

    I'm thinking perhaps some sort of belt wound around a horizontal wheel attached to the sphere (slightly offset from the middle), and connected to another wheel similar to bicycle chain--- but it doesn't seem like a steam-jet would produce very much torque .
     
  12. Enmos Staff Member

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    We would just go extinct sooner..
     
  13. dre38w Registered Member

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    Yeah you guys are so right. This has been in my mind for the longest time and I never realized that is what would happen. I never took into consideration that all the fossil fuels and things of this sort would run out far before the 21st century. I feel kind of embarrassed almost. But thank you guys for getting that out of my mind. Now I know.

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  14. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    I wouldn't worry about the industrialised Graeco-Roman Empire running out of energy; they would have been able to use fission (uranium, thorium, fast breeder reactors) and solar power (170,000 terawatts available power over the whole planet) even if they never develop fusion power. By 2008 a.d. the Graeco-Romans would be on Tau Ceti...
     
  15. draqon Banned Banned

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    today we would be living on Mars...if that was the case.

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    we would be in space

    you and me

    and out little kitty
     
  16. USS Exeter unamerican american Registered Senior Member

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    We would not be on earth. We would have moved on to a different solar system.
     
  17. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Well, the Amish would still be here. So, in a way, Syzygys was right. The meek would inherit the earth, while the rest of us were out conquering the stars.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This assumes that relativity is false or a more advanced science will discover an exception to it that allows people to circumvent its natural limitations. Otherwise, even if the descendants of the Romans managed to surmount the immense difficulties of building generation starships--and then of maintaining civilization among their inhabitants--there's a very high probability that they would still be in transit, looking for a habitable planet.

    Scientist and "hard" sci-fi author Robert L. Forward calculated that it would take no less than sixty years to reach the nearest star with planets, much less planets on which a human colony could be established. If that one turns out to be a dud, and a few more, it could easily take a thousand years to find one. Then the message has to return to Earth at lightspeed, and the first wave of colonizing ships has to be launched.

    The Romans might have accomplished a lot on Earth in 2,000 years. But 2,000 years is nothing when you're exploring the galaxy at relativistic speeds.

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  19. USS Exeter unamerican american Registered Senior Member

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    Do keep in mind any other scientific discoveries that may occur in the future. Hypothetically, what if we discovered how to bend space time so we could go faster in respect to light? We could find habitable planets in months or even days! What if we found evidence to disprove relativity? There is so much more that coul happen, that our thoughs wouldn't even cover a fraction of the possible outcomes.
     
  20. Enmos Staff Member

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    Imagine what kind of weaponry Hitler would have had.. not a good thing.
     
  21. USS Exeter unamerican american Registered Senior Member

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    I've always wondered, if we move along into, say, the 23rd century, what would the amish look like? Would they look the same? Or would they look a little more modern in respect to our present time?

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  22. USS Exeter unamerican american Registered Senior Member

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    We would all be extinct, even the Nazis. Human self-annihilation.

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  23. Enmos Staff Member

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    What ? You feel bad for a person that hits himself in the face as well ?
    Or shoots his own foot.. LOL

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    Humanity is too stupid to survive itself. Tragic that they will take the rest of the planet with them.
     
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