29 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 Science Fiction Gave Literature New Frontiers

The shift in subject matter from westerns to science fiction was probably already underway when Burroughs began writing. The frontier, which had been such a key feature of American popular fiction, was rapidly disappearing, and writers had begun looking for new frontiers—hence, the increasing number of stories about lost civilizations in unexplored parts of the world. But even the unexplored parts of the world were shrinking rapidly, and as new technologies, such as aircraft and rocketry, b...
Folksonomies: history science fiction
Folksonomies: history science fiction
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Burroughs "Princess of Mars" even has the protagonist go from the Western frontier to a Martian desert. Wastelands are frontiers as well.

25 APR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Hay

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially importa...
Folksonomies: invention agriculture
Folksonomies: invention agriculture
  1  notes

As an invention, it allowed humans to migrate into northern Europe.

03 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Applied History of Technology

Ravna had known that “jumpstarting” technology must be a topic in the ship’s library. It turned out the subject was a major academic specialty. Besides ten thousand case studies, there were customizing programs and lots of very dull-looking theory. Though the “rediscovery problem” was trivial in the Beyond, down in the Slow Zone almost every conceivable combination of events had happened. Civilizations in the Slowness could not last more than a few thousand years. Their collapse was...
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An academic field for a galactic civilization in which they study the technological advancement of different species on different planets. Includes the concept of "jumpstarting," where a civilization is given more advanced technology, similar to the concept of "leapfrogging" for third world countries on Earth.

02 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 Randal Monroe on Space Flight

The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.
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Envisioning a universe filled with the planetary grave sites of civilizations that did not see the economic worth of space exploration.

29 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 Humans Are Strong, Civilization is Fragile

We have confidence in our science-based civilization and think it has tenure. In so doing, I think we fail to distinguish between the life-span of civilizations and that of our species. In fact, civilizations are ephemeral compared with species. Humans have lasted at least a million years, but there have been 30 civilizations in the past 5000 years. Humans are tough and will survive; civilizations are fragile. It seems clear to me that we are not evolving in intelligence, not becoming true Ho...
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Humans will survive the death of civilization, which has happened 30 times over the centuries.