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Guns, Germs, and Steel Chapter 13

by Kyle, Erica, Samual, Alejandro

Kyle Radomske

on 2 April 2014

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Transcript of Guns, Germs, and Steel Chapter 13

Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Phaistos Disk
- Discovered in 1908 in the Minoan palace of Phaistos on Crete.

- Symbols in an unknown and undeciphered language have been printed.

- Earliest printed document in the world dated to 1700 BC

- There are many unanswered questions about the unique disk, it remains an archeological mystery
Why did Technology
evolve at different
rates on
different continents?
Why were Eurasians technologically developed, while New Guineans and Native Australians still using stone tools?

Potential reasons:

Eurasian Superiority
Heroic Theory
Societies Receptiveness to innovation
"Necessity is
the mother
of invention"
Invention is often the mother of necessity rather than vice versa.

Many inventions were made:
a clear need
In search of
practical application
Or their
application evolves:
Automobiles were
“needed” at first:
toys of rich
Phonograph was not
for music:
Edison objected!


Inventors have to tinker for a long time for inventions to be accepted
"The Heroic theory
-Diamond discounts the genius theory of invention, which posits that inventions are mostly made by lone geniuses; and shows instead that:

Inventions rest on a long history of previous inventions:
•James Watt’s steam engine (1769)
•Was based on Newcomb’s (1712)
•Which was based on Savery’s (1698), etc.
similar histories can be related for most documented modern inventions.
Technology develops
cumulatively, rather than
in isolated heroic acts.
It finds most of its
uses after it has been
invented, rather than
being invented to meet
a foreseen need.
History of ancient technology

-Those conclusions apply with the undocumented history of ancient technology as well.
-Early humans acquired their knowledge by observation and trial and error.
-They constantly try to figure out uses for unfamiliar things and often different uses from the ones the object is manufactured for:
Ex: is that piece of glass sufficiently sharp and strong to be useful as a knife?
- Gradually learned uses of raw materials:
- Developed gunpowder and gasoline from raw materials.
-Combustible natural products were easily noticed and they discovered several uses for them:
-extraction of petroleum (by heating rock asphalt)
-mixtures of them were used as incendiary weapons. (delivered by catapults, firebombs, and arrows)
- Distilled petroleum into fractions, some of which were proved to be even more powerful incendiaries (delivered in grenades, rockets, and torpedoes)

- Later on the 19th-century chemists made use of middle distillate as fuel for oil lamps but discarded gasoline as a waste product, until a use was found for it which is the fuel of internal-combustion engines.
-See how gasoline, the fuel of the modern civilization, was once an invention in search of a use?
"new technology"
a new
persuade the society to adopt it
However,there is no guarantee of ready acceptance
at all
adopted only
after prolonged
Supersonic transport

Boeing 2707 ;rising costs and the lack of a clear market led to its cancellation in 1971
Typewriter keyboard
Electric lighting
What is it that promotes an invention's acceptance
by a society?
The factors
Social value and prestige
Compatibility with vested interests
Arab cannons
Wheels in Mexico
Economic advantage of new technology
Ease of
Differences in receptivity
why technology developed faster on some
continents than on others?
How do differences in receptivity among societies arise?
Economics or the organization of society:

1) lack of a validity of cheap or slave labor or high cost of labor.
2) Patents and other property laws.
3) availabililty of technical training.
4) rewards for investment via Capitalism.
5) individualism.

1) encouragement of risk-taking behavior.
2) scientific outlook.
3) tolerance of diverse views.
4) religious tolerance and religious encouragement of innovation.
Acting inconsistently:
1) war
2) strong centralized government.
3) rigorous climate.
4) abundant resources.
the key question about the laundry list is whether such factors differed systemically from continent to continent and thereby led to continental differences in technological development.
How did location affect the society's technology?
ex : aboriginal tasmanians
the most successful societies were those in the major continents.
ex: medieval Islam

"useful technology,once aquired, inevitably persist until superseded by better ones"

* sharing technology by diffusion.

*Diffusion led the area to share its technology.

*Without diffusion fewer technologies are acquired, and more existing are lost.
why did technology tend to catalyze itself?
1)advances are simply previous mystery of simpler problems.
2)new technologies and materials make it possible to generate other new technologies by recombination.

unlike the twentieth century, thousands of years ago the rate of development was so slow
the two jumps in the history:

1)between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago. it was mainly based on genetic changes in our bodies, brains, and skills.
2) 13,000 years ago
the settlement of humans to adopt food leading to new life style.

this sedentary had lead to major advances in technology.
* food production.
* the more the population, the more the technology.

society's development is built on these variations:

1)time of onset food production.

2)barriers to diffusion.

3)human population size.

*since it lacks the geographic barriers, Eurasia had the greatest share of technology.

*the Americas were different because they are fragmented by geographic and ecology.

*for Africa, the Sub-Saharan Africa was seperated from Eurasia and North Africa by the Saharan Desert.

*Australia is the most isolated continent that does not contain metal artifacts in modern times.
by Kyle Radomske
Erica Hill
Samuel Dominguez Bautista
Alejandro Garcia
Chapter 13
Example of technological evolution
Full transcript