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Forum LockedHumanity's greatest invention

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Sep-2007 at 02:02
We become civilized to make things easier and by being a consumer carry all the rest along with us. We are the modern day magicians in that we can walk into a room flick a switch and before we can say "Let there be light!" there is light. Trouble is the electricity company and not us owns the magic. I have been on a farm where I had to chop firewood to do the cooking but not any more. I have a gas stove but do my most of my cooking in a microwave.  The gods must be saying by now "Come back Prometheus all is forgiven!"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wang yun Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Sep-2007 at 15:48
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

I don't agree. It is not a matter that Western culture is superior to the East. It is a matter if alphabetic writing is better or worst than ideographic writing. As far as studies go, the impact of alphabetic writing IN THE WEST was huge, and many inventions and institutions IN THE WEST come from alphabetic writing.
 
Err, you don't have to agree or disagree-- I was stating a fact, not an opinion. Some countries just don't use or never developed an alphabetic writing because it doesn't work as well as whatever system of writing they use or developed. Did I say anything about cultural superiority? Confused
 
In fact, my only point was what you take for levels of development in the area of such "humanities" or social science are difficult to apply evenly across the board. The impact of any writing is closely tied to the impact of the language which it tries to record, which is closely tied to the literature in the language, which is closely tied to the philosophy behind the literature, etc.
 
Unless you're talking about modern linguistics-- in which case, the International Phonetic Alphabet with its detailed demarcation of sounds and tones is an absolutely essential invention. But the IPA (which only professional can understand) helps to promotes the development of linguistics in general rather than any particular language or literature, philosophy.
 
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Now, no matter that the East invented quite a lot of things and created many important ideas, the question remains: does ideographic writing slow down somehow the development in the East? I bet so.
 
If you were making the bet in early ROC/ PRC, you would have won because many Chinese themselves were led by western writings to believe that it was their writing system which affected their development-- completely forgetting that the Chinese led or kept up with world technology until the 16th century when... [long Chinese history lesson which cannot be explained simply just by the writing system].LOL
 
That was why Mao Zedong himself commissioned and promoted the Hanyu Pinyin system of phonetization/ transliteration, with the intention of modernizing China by romanizing Chinese writing-- aka, because all modern nations have alphabetic writing, therefore China will modernize if it alphabetizes. It failed, not because Mao Zedong didn't have enough power to enforce the change, but because it didn't "work" (FOR the Chinese).
 
But you have mixed up or generalized a few things (both east & west). E.g, the Koreans, Japanese, etc. already had their own phonetic scripts by the 16th century-- but they ALSO fell behind the western developments (like the rest of East Asia)... AND later caught up again (like the rest of East Asia), withOUT changing alphabetizing or romanizing their scripts. So my point was only this, whatever general principle you're proposing may need to be recalibrated (for exceptions?) when you widen your scope or consider specific instances.
 
 
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Even "modern" religions are forms of refined shamanism, anyways. The point was not that. I tried to give an idea that technology can define different "levels" of technological advances; nothing more than that.
 
 
So as long as a religion has survived into modern times, you are just going assumed it is "advanced" and not consider the actual nature of the religion? Doesn't that defeat your efforts in distinguishing between different "levels" of technological advances? Again, my point is that religion is in the area of such "humanities" or social science, like language and writing, where it can gain refinement and complexities but don't really (need to) make "technological leaps".


Edited by wang yun - 24-Sep-2007 at 15:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Sep-2007 at 16:12

Yes, Wan Yun. You are right in your points. Chinese script is fine for China, no matter it is very hard for people to get it. Some Chinese friends told me once that only the most educated fellows managed most of the ideograms, for instance.

For that reason I said that for the west (and I remark "the west"), the switch from ideographic systems to the alphabet was a major cultural revolution... 2800 years ago, indeed. You can trace the origin of Greek phylosophy and literature, and even Jewish religion to developments in the alphabet... It was also the main force behind the development of codified laws, library cathalogs and finally organized science.... again, in the west!
 
Today is hard to tell the impact in Asia because Japaneses, Chineses and Koreans KNOW the alphabet already, and they use them when they need it, as for example in mathematics (greek alphabet) or in codings.
 
With respect to shamanism and religion, I really don't care much. I am agnostic. And I feel very attracted by local Amerindians believes, anyways.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote warnenczyk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Nov-2007 at 19:46

The gratest invention is :

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote longshanks31 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Nov-2007 at 22:14
dont know if its been mentioned but i will vote for soap or the nail
long live the king of bhutan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goban Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Nov-2007 at 17:21
Beer of course.
 
The contributions to the birth and advancement of sedentary cultures cannot be ignored!!  Wink (for better or worse...).
 
But on the other hand, I have to agree with Paul. The working of stone (both flaked stone and ground stone) made us who we are today... They are the tools directly responsible for our "advancement" (careful use of the term).
 
And for being an extremely ancient art, it's hard to become proficient. My personal level of proficiency is somewhere just outside of the oldowan industry....
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Illirac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2007 at 14:01
I do not know what is humanity greatest invention...at this day everything is great: we would not probably have 'this' without 'that'...though i can say what are the worst of invention: all sort of weapons and every thing used to put an end to human life
For too long I've been parched of thirst and unable to quench it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Athanasios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2007 at 15:10


Religion...LOL!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2007 at 22:17
Let's not go there. Religion I mean. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Nov-2007 at 23:49
Originally posted by konstantinius konstantinius wrote:

Humanity's biggest "invention" is agriculture, ca. 7-9,000 BC. Alas, this what's got us in the mess that we're in today.


Seconded.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Nov-2007 at 23:59
fire...
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 00:03
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Now, no matter that the East invented quite a lot of things and created many important ideas, the question remains: does ideographic writing slow down somehow the development in the East? I bet so.


I don't think so. The West had alphabetic writing for thousands of years, but lagged far behind the East for all but the last five or six hundred years. Nor did alphabetic writing appear to offer any boost in literacy, since for millenia, literacy in China was far higher than in Europe. Only in the late 19th century was it surpassed (and even then only in certain parts of Europe).

The big advantage of ideographic scripts like Hanzi are that they don't rely on sounds, and so, are totally independant of language altogether. You could, technically, learn to write Chinese even if you spoke only English, and it would (historically, at least) be intelligible to speakers of dozens of different Asiatic languages. I think idiographic script actually explains rather well why the East was in the technological lead for most of history - they had a literary lingua franca as far back as 6000 BC, whereas Europe only had Latin since about 100 BC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 00:23

The west lagged behind the East mainly in the Middle Ages period, where without doubt Tang and Sung China were more advanced technically than anything in the West.

However, if you compare the GreeK-Roman civilization from 800 BC to 400 AD, that was undoubtly more advanced in technology but mainly in science than China in that period. Things like the study of the conics of Apholonious, the works of Philo of Alexandria and the theory of Calculus of Archimedes were a lot more advanced than anything in China at the time.

Finally, Chineses had no writing at 6000 BC.
 
 

 



Edited by pinguin - 30-Nov-2007 at 00:24
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 00:37
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Finally, Chineses had no writing at 6000 BC.


Quite wrong. The Damaidi Petroglyphs push the origins of the Asiatic script to between 7 and 8 thousand years BC. Some of the inscriptions are as old as 20-30 thousand BC (although admittedly, they are not recognizably a "script" at that point).

Quote However, if you compare the GreeK-Roman civilization from 800 BC to 400 AD, that was undoubtly more advanced in technology but mainly in science than China in that period. Things like the study of the conics of Apholonious, the works of Philo of Alexandria and the theory of Calculus of Archimedes were a lot more advanced than anything in China at the time.


Asiatic achievements are simply not as well known in the west. Archimedes is familiar - practically a brand name; but nobody knows the Chinese texts or mathematicians. The Chinese had discovered everything the Romans and Greeks had, roughly at the same time, usually a century or two ahead and with slightly more precision.

One particular advantage they had at this point was that the ideographic script featured true numerals and a form of decimal notation, like Arabic script (not quite that good but close), while the Romans and Greeks were stuck with a most awkward and clumsy numbering system, totally unsuited to higher mathematics. Quick ... what's the square root of MCMLXIV? No decimals now ... Roman long writing for fractions ...

Edited by edgewaters - 30-Nov-2007 at 00:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 01:05

Pethroglyps are not necesarily writing. In fact, all people of the earth have symbolic systems, some with thousand of symbols. But they are not considered scripts. The damaidi pethroglyphs doesn't qualify as writing, I am afraid.

 
 
Experts say the earliest proper writing in China is from 1.200 B.C., a time very late in history. In fact, the writing systems of Mesopotamia and of the Fertil Crescent in general, are thousand of years older.
 
 
With respect to Chinese science more advanced than the science of Alexandria, I am afraid is fantasy. Yes, Chineses knew some interesting numerical method at the time, but they didn't developed anything close to axiomatic geometry and they didn't reach the math skills of Archimedes at all. Greek-Roman engineering was quite advanced, however not many people knows the details. I am sure it has nothing to envy to China in Classical times. As I said before, it is not the case of the Middle Ages were China was indeed at the top, particularly with the Tang and Sung dinasties.
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 30-Nov-2007 at 01:09
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Siege Tower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 01:25
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

The west lagged behind the East mainly in the Middle Ages period, where without doubt Tang and Sung China were more advanced technically than anything in the West.

However, if you compare the GreeK-Roman civilization from 800 BC to 400 AD, that was undoubtly more advanced in technology but mainly in science than China in that period. Things like the study of the conics of Apholonious, the works of Philo of Alexandria and the theory of Calculus of Archimedes were a lot more advanced than anything in China at the time.

Finally, Chineses had no writing at 6000 BC.
 
 

 




The early Chinese scientist simply took a different approach in science and mathematic, the greeks were more focused on theories, while the  Chinese  were focusing on more practical use of science and mathematic. it's hard to tell who is more advanced because the Chinese are most definitely more advanced in astronomy, practical use of mathematic and metallurgy, while the greeks are more advanced in scientific and mathematical theories.


Finally, Chineses had no writing at 6000 BC.

This just give us one more reason to admire the Chinese civilization.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian J Checco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 05:35
The internet- millions of nudie pictures at lightning speed!

Oh yeah, and the ability to communicate in real time with people all oer the planet, and even in space. But, obviously, that's of secondary importance...
LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 07:56
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Pethroglyps are not necesarily writing. In fact, all people of the earth have symbolic systems, some with thousand of symbols. But they are not considered scripts.


Unless they have standardized pictograms ... which the portions of the Damaidi inscriptions made after 7-8 thousand BC do have. Those inscriptions go back to 20 000 BC so, it is not all of them that qualify. But some do.

Quote Experts say the earliest proper writing in China is from 1.200 B.C., a time very late in history. In fact, the writing systems of Mesopotamia and of the Fertil Crescent in general, are thousand of years older.


No, quite wrong here. Damaidi is new stuff and pushes it back quite a bit, but since the late 1800s, historians have universally dated the emergence of proto-Hanzi script at around 3000-4000 BC. Since the 1970s, various discoveries (Jiahu script, Damaidi, etc) seem to be pushing those dates back. The most conservative estimates remain at 3000-4000 BC, as they have for over 100 years now.

Quote Greek-Roman engineering was quite advanced, however not many people knows the details.


Yeah, nobody knows about the aqueducts, the roads, or the colloseum. It's so ... obscure.

The Chinese had comparable achievements, the least of which were roads and aqueducts. Bridge design was centuries ahead, they possessed blast furnaces, crucible steel, Wootz steel, wrought and cast iron, towers much taller than any freestanding structures in Roman design, etc.

The Romans had their own technologies too, but between the Han and the Romans, it is absurdity to state the Romans as being technologically superior, in any overall sense.

Quote but they didn't developed anything close to axiomatic geometry and they didn't reach the math skills of Archimedes at all.


Sure. They had pi, they had pythagorean theorum, etc. Zhang Heng and others like him were easily the equal of anything produced in the Classical world.

Edited by edgewaters - 30-Nov-2007 at 07:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Garvm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 11:03
Guys i was reading this thread, and i think that is very good!
 
Please dont make this thread a competition between West and East...
 
And the greatest invention is the agriculture, because trigered all major civilizational acomplishments of Humanity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 13:03
Originally posted by Siege Tower Siege Tower wrote:

...
The early Chinese scientist simply took a different approach in science and mathematic, the greeks were more focused on theories, while the  Chinese  were focusing on more practical use of science and mathematic.
 
In science, Greeks created abstract science and axiomatic geometry. Without that science and technology wouldn't have reached the standards of modern society. Now, in technology, the Greeks, particularly Heron of Alexandria and Philo, were amazing engineers, and the Antekitera clockwork show the were ahead of anything in Asia by the 1rst Century AD. Yes, China catch up and by the Middle Ages China was the most advanced industrial society. But, please, do not downplay as easily Greek-Roman achievements that were many.
 
Originally posted by Siege Tower Siege Tower wrote:

...
it's hard to tell who is more advanced because the Chinese are most definitely more advanced in astronomy, practical use of mathematic and metallurgy, while the greeks are more advanced in scientific and mathematical theories.
 
In Astronomy? Hardly, the model of Ptolmey was predictive up to fractions of the second. In practical use of mathematics, if you mean in arithmetic and numerical calculus, Chineses had a small advantage, particularly with the Pascal theorem. In metallurgy, Chineses have a lead. In scientific theory there is no comparison, Greeks already had formulated statics in Physics in its modern form.
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