“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clark
Let’s play a game. Think about your three favorite pieces of technology, whether they are electronic, electrical, or mechanical; now think about three other pieces of technology, or any other invention going back to the dawn of time. We now have six devices. Next, let’s pretend that we’re thrust into “one of those” science fiction movies of the future where mankind, and the kinder gender of man; women, are on the verge of extinction. How could you help them if you had to start from scratch? Of the six things on your list, how many could you make? Of the six, how many of them could you actually explain? Can you see it now; Survivor number one; “If only we had a microwave we could “nuke” this raw squirrel and it might taste better. Survivor number two; “what’s a microwave?” Number one; “it’s a box you open, put in cold food, hit a button, and suddenly you have hot food.” Number two; “excellent; how do we build one?” Ah, ah ah ah ah……yea, that’s what I thought. Don’t feel bad, I work with a lot of modern technology, and I many not have a lot of success either.
Skip back to your list……….computers, cameras, cars…….the chances of building these are almost nil, so let’s start with something simple, one of the very first tools; the wheel. “Yea, I could make that!” Could you? Could you even make a hammer and chisel to shape the stone? Could you find the minerals to forge the metal, and if you did, could you even start a fire without matches or a butane grill lighter? Not such easy stuff is it?
So much of modern technology is based on innovations in telephone technology, the telephone still being one of the most amazing pieces of technology ever invented. Along these lines, I’m not sure there was ever an invention so widely used, and so underappreciated in the complexity of its nature. Think about it; millions of people dial a number, or touch a screen and in the fraction of a second, another person is talking to them on the other end of the phone; around the corner or around the globe. Could you even do that with 2 tin cans and a string?
Make your own observations; a paper cup, a plastic fork, or a cotton sock; start thinking about how to make these things, and hope we never have to go backwards in time and try.
We have a functioning rotary wall phone in our house. It is probably over 50 years old. I also have an iPhone 4. And a two-inch thick owner’s manual for it. HUH?
Wina, that’s funny, I have a new cell phone. It has 6 manuals, and 2 online instruction sheets. It’s written in 8 languages and I still can’t get the answers I want!
When I bought my house, there was a “really old phone.” It was one of those where you hold the big “tube” to your ear and talk into the mouth piece. The kind like “calling all cars, calling all cars……..” So cool, and it works.