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1830: the birth of modern technology

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They all came about in (or about) the year 1830.

(Sources: unless stated, all facts and quotations are from the New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 1995, and the on-line Encyclopedia Britannica. Most longer quotations are from the Britannica).

Don't take my word for this!

Most of this page (and those that accompany it) were completed between August and October 1999. In May 2000 I was interested to see a new series of TV documentaries entitled "The Day The World Took Off." They explore the origins of the modern world, particularly focusing on technology and consumerism. The identify one year in particular as the turning point. No prizes for guessing which year they chose!

The following is from the program description at the Channel 4 web site (www.channel4.co.uk) for Sunday 28th May 2000:

"Two centuries ago, a small, rain-swept island off the coast of mainland Europe underwent an extraordinary transformation. It was the dawn of the Machine Age and the world would never be the same again. But why did the Industrial Revolution take place in Britain ahead of other powerful nations at the time? What part did the tea drinking habits of the British play in its success? Why did China - inventor of gunpowder and porcelain - eschew technology? And why was Western warfare good for business?

"The Day the World Took Off dusts off preconceived ideas about the Industrial Revolution with the help of a team of five experts who meet at King's College, Cambridge. Pooling their knowledge and experience these history sleuths blast through the grimy received wisdom of the dark satanic mills to answer these and other questions. Dramatic reconstruction, diaries and first-hand accounts bring the past to life.

"Going beyond the traditional 100-year time frame through which the Industrial Revolution is viewed, the investigators begin by focussing on one specific day in 1830 - the height of Britain's Industrial Revolution [the first commercial steam train journey] - and go back 100 years. Then 250, 500, 1,000 and finally 10,000 years, to examine the roots of technological development. The investigators take a global approach, travelling to Nepal, Germany, China, Japan, France and Italy in search of vital clues. There, they ask what were the differences in philosophy, social structure and, crucially, eating habits, between East and West that led to such different destinies? In programme one, the five experts focus on September 15, 1830 as they follow the first steam train's journey from Liverpool to Manchester..."

(The series was made by Windfall Films, commissioned by Britain's Channel 4, as part of its "Technology Millennium." At time of writing, full details are at http://www.cabdan.demon.co.uk/panic/ but this may be a temporary site.)

1830: birth of modern science

In 1830, that the word "scientist" was first used (by William Whewell).

The spirit of truth and understanding was being poured out on the world in the 1830s. The biggest technological features of our modern world can be traced to this time.

The 1830s: the birth of modern physics

1830 and the origins of computers

"In 1830, Charles Babbage published Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, a controversial work that resulted in the formation, in 1831, of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Two years later, Babbage published his most influential work, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures" (Grolier)- and he conceived his "analytical engine", the prototype of modern computers.

1830 (or thereabouts) was also the time when Charles Babbage had his first (and only?) meeting with Ada Lovelace: the inventor of the computer met the first computer programmer.

1830 and public health

"Nineteenth-century movements to improve sanitation occurred simultaneously in several European countries and were built upon foundations laid in the period between 1750 and 1830"

Mathematics and the spirit of discovery

It seems that the spirit of discovery was so strong that sometimes people would make the same discoveries at the same time, entirely independently. For example, between 1829 and 1832, Lobachevskii and Bolyai both developed the first non-Euclidian geometry. Just before that, between 1827 and 1829, Neils Abel and Karl Jacob both founded the theory of elliptic (doubly periodic) functions. Again, independent of each other.

Also at this time, Lambert Adolphe Quetelet laid the foundations of modern statistics and social physics. His work included the discovery of the "normal distribution". He established an observatory in 1833, and published his most famous paper in 1835.

There seems to have been a world-wide thirst for knowledge at this time. "The Encyclopedia Americana was begun as an English-language adaptation of the seventh edition of Brockhaus, produced by Francis Lieber between 1829 and 1833. It was the first general encyclopedia to bear an American imprint."

The 1830s: the birth of modern geology:

It was in 1830 that Sir Charles Lyall published volume one of his "Principles of Geology" (New Scientist 13 Dec 1997 p.49). Lyall developed the theory of Uniformitarianism, and was in many ways the father of modern geology.

Also on the subject of earth sciences, "In the 1830s, the German mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss studied the Earth's magnetic field and concluded that the principal dipolar component had its origin inside the Earth instead of outside."

The 1830s: the birth of modern biology:

The decisive events in discovering Cells

"Three critical discoveries made during the 1830s, when improved microscopes with suitable lenses, higher powers of magnification without aberration, and more satisfactory illumination became available, were decisive events in the early development of cell theory. First, the nucleus was observed by Robert Brown in 1833 as a constant component of plant cells. Next, nuclei were also observed and recognized as such in some animal cells. Finally, a living substance called protoplasm was recognized within cells, its vitality made evident by its active streaming, or flowing, movements, especially in plant cells. After these three discoveries, cells, previously considered as mere pores in plant tissue, could no longer be thought of as empty, because they contained living material."

Circa 1830: the birth of modern chemistry:

1830 and astronomy:

As well as the BAAS (see Babbage, above), the Royal Astronomical Society (began as the Astronomical Society of London in 1820) was incorporated under its present name in 1831.

The first known map of Mars was produced in 1830 by Wilhelm Beer and Johann H. von Mädler of Germany.

While on the subject of space, the first air lock was patented in 1830 (by Sir Thomas Cochrane,originally used in harbors and bridge building.

1830: technological revolutions begin...

1830: the world becomes a smaller place

The first railways

With the railways and increasing communication, the industrial revolution began to spread throughout the world. 1830 saw the first commercial railway (Liverpool to Manchester). In America, 1830 saw the first home-grown locomotive, and the famous competition between the locomotive "Tom Thumb" and horses.

The first cars

Petrol driven cars were not developed until the 1890s, but the idea of horseless road carriages first became accepted in the 1830s. Although people had experimented with mobile road-based steam engines before, they had still just a novelty. But the turning point as the 1830s.

"In 1830 Sir Goldworthy Gurney of Great Britain designed a large stagecoach driven by a steam engine that may have been the first motor-driven bus."

In the 1830s the manufacture and use of steam road carriages began to take off. The success of steam coaches (carrying six or more people) led to the development of personal steam cars. This in turn led to the development of more advanced forms of propulsion and the invention of the petrol driven car. And the rest is history.

Changes in the earth

It's not just man-made technology that changed in 1830. The earth’s magnetic field has been reducing in strength since 1830 – a fact made much of by some New Agers. According to http://www.m-m.org/jz/prophecye.html, referring to Scientific American Online, April, 1998:

"Since 1830, the terrestrial magnetic field has been decreasing in strength. … A reversal of the magnetic poles … [has] happened before. Seen in the paleomagnetic record, locked into rocks of the ocean floor and in some lava flows, scientists think the time between reversals on the Earth falls somewhere between every 100,000 to 25 million years, with the reversal itself taking about 5,000 years. NASA's Magnetic Field Satellite concurs, confirming a trend that goes back to at least 1830; namely, that the terrestrial magnetic field is decreasing in strength."

the bottom line

This was the year when light and knowledge were poured out from heaven as never before or since. It was unique in the history of the world. It was the beginning of the Latter days.


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