The Short History

It was written in a state that might never be replicated, hopefully…a want to twist words as far as they could be!

Time From An Engineer’s Viewpoint

“Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”

-Scott Adams

A few ten thousand years ago, our forefathers lived in caves or other crude shelters. Some bright spark discovered that by rubbing two sticks together more sparks could be produced, which lead to forest fires becoming a common occurrence. High fashion consisted of the latest in sheepskin. The loudest sounds were that of thunder and the roar of a famished lion, which was good, because it was an ominous portent that they

should take to their heels. The Tower of Babel had not been built then. Communication consisted of a series of grunts and arm waving in its most rudimentary form. The only bits & bytes to be had were off whatever food, burnt from the fire, you were eating. Engineering as a science and as an art has come a long way since the Stone Age.

Take a hypothetical scenario (as of yet). A caveman is time-transported from his snug abode and brought to the 21st century. Apart from being a world-wide phenomenon and being according ‘rock’-star treatment, he’d be amazed at what has become of this planet. Not in his wildest flights of imagination would he have believed what his eyes now perceive. Technology’s race into the unseen hurtles along and at the helm are the

world’s engineers.

From Humble beginnings:

The origin of Engineering is shrouded in the distant depths of time. But perhaps, Civil Engineering was born when the first drops of rain fell on our ancestors. They realised food was not enough, they needed shelter! Needless to say, the discovery must have been made in a hurry.

Mechanical Engineering can trace its beginning to firstly, the genius who realised fire coud be produced. We are all eternally grateful. Of course, not to forget the Neanderthal who thought of the wheel. I wonder what his thought process must have been like. “How absolutely fantastic would it be if I had a circular stone? Maybe I could roll it around.” Whatever possessed him to make mankind’s first invention has indeed been a great

boon for the transportation industry. We’d thank you, but we’re all coughing from the vehicle exhaust.

From then on, technology has never looked back. Great cities rose, (and fell, that’s different matter), Man felt a need to call someplace home and gradually relinquished his nomadic life, the earth smiled with food crops. The Egyptians realised that their Kings could come back to life, and started building pyramids in a frenzy. Since then tomb-raiders had a field day. More and more, there arose the need for these very old

professions. And they never failed the need.

Civilisations Rule:

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.”

-Michael Armstrong

These civilisations might have changed the face of engineering and brought it much closer to the present times. They expanded their empires and thus faced a problem of overpopulation. To combat this, they made war machines in order to kill off the surplus. The word ‘surplus’ would mean ‘anyone not belonging to the empire’ in many ancient languages.

Archimedes, one of the greatest inventors of these unsubtle war machines took a leisurely but sudsy stroll down the streets of ancient Greece, yelling ‘Eureka’. He’s most famous for the jokes that resulted. In midst of all this chaos, some wise Easterners discovered the number 0. Little did they know the discovery would shape man’s future. Not only would the digit become the most feared by students all over the world in a matter of 2 millennia, but it would spawn the birth of computers and electronics engineers, who are mostly people who come and fix the computers when it requires more than a kick and a punch to put right. But, inspite of the business of these engineers, for many years, the status quo remained. Not much development was made, other that in the field of building places of worship or mausoleums and killing enemies in new and innovative ways in order to fill the same.

Rebirth:

Fast forward some thousand years, to one very extraordinary man. The Renaissance was at its peak, Leonardo Da Vinci was bored. He invented the contact lens, high heeled shoes, helicopter, submarine and the parachute, all in one day. Then to cap off the achievement, he painted the Mona Lisa. In the present day, we all know about his paintings because a very mediocre book has been on the bestseller list for a very long

time. We should have been ‘long done’ with it. But, indeed, Leonardo was the quintessential Renaissance Man and is there any doubting that he has been the ideal engineer?

The Renaissance sparked off many revolutions in thought processes. The greatest of which, was scientific thought. People began asking questions about the world around them. The questions have not yet ceased.

An apple fell on Newton’s head, due to gravity. Engineers had already known about gravity a long time ago. The Law stated “Don’t drop it. It will fall down.”

Man started looking towards the skies, but the question was not “Will it rain?” but “What is going around?”. Galileo invented the telescope, and propounded an answer. The Earth ceased to be flat for some astronomers. The Church branded them all heretics, as she’d come up with her own astronomical theory, viz. The world revolved around her. 500 years later, after intense research, she came up with an even more astounding theory. The world is NOT flat! The Earth revolves around the Sun!

Some things never change. Empires will still being built. European countries kept sending out ships to conquer heathen lands. In an astounding series of errors, Christopher Columbus set out for the ‘Indies’ and reached America. That was okay, many Indian engineers make the same mistake. But this new continent was not called Columbia. Smacks of unfairness, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, Vasco Da Gama actually reached the shores of India, making the others look very foolish indeed. Colonialism was on.

Many Years Later:

Through all this awakening, people were still using lamps of myriad sizes and shapes. But, cometh the hour, cometh the minds. Ben Franklin declared his independence from Britain and her King, who thought “Nothing special happened. It rained today”, on 4th July 1776. He then set his sights on kite flying. Thus, electricity was born!

Volta and Galvani played around with electrolytes and metals. Their mothers had never warned them not to play with electricity. Thus the voltaic/galvanic cells were born. It came as a shock to Volta when he realised that electricity travelled through wires. Meanwhile faraday was playing around with magnetism and electricity. But in this age of light, most homes were in darkness. Till Thomas Alva Edison (of the immense perspiration) invented the light bulb. It was a bright idea. He then proceeded to start the first power company. Ampere found the laws of elctro-dynamics, but Ohm’s thesis on Galvanic circuits was met with a lot of resistance.

Meanwhile, from electricity was born the electric locomotive. Watt’s engine was transformed from a smoky steam engine to a silent and powerful machine. The smoke had been successfully shifted to the thermal power plants, which were populated by engineers.

The age of neon lights was upon us!

With the new found developments in electricity, communication engineering wasn’t far behind. Gone were the days of Gutenberg’s presses. Morse dotted and dashed his way through the English alphabet, and electric telegraph lines were set up all over the civilised world. Alexander Graham Bell, a teacher for the hearing impaired, invented the telephone. Toward the end of the 19th century, the Lamiere brothers invented moving pictures. Both these events led to the phenomenon of ringing mobile phones and loud conversations in movie theatres. Marconi used radio waves to transmit data. Radio was a great boon for the early part of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it didn’t have pretty pictures.

The 20th Century:

The early part of the 20th century trotted in.In the 1900’s, Henry Ford invented the Model T. The Industrial revolution had brought about assembly lines and Model Ts rolled off them with precision. In 1909, the Wright brothers took off at Kitty Hawk, achieving self sustained flight for 9 seconds. They did not invent salted peanuts.

Einstein found out about the theory of relativity. It was a guaranteed insomnia cure, thus being its own proof. Revolution was sweeping through the world, and in a far away country, a small archduke was assasinated. The first world war broke out. History repeated itself, engineers built better weapons and machines. The war ended in a whimper. It had been the “war to end all wars”. How ironic.

Titanic had been hailed as a triumph of engineering. It sank. It was then hailed as a box office triumph more than half a century later.

The 1930’s were an eventful decade, man finally took to the skies in commercial aircraft. The Empire State Building came up and was the tallest building in the world for more than 70 years, but the rest of America was “Depressed”. Engineers had not much work to do.

Suddenly, the Second World War broke out. Hitler’s ambitions had exceeded his grasp and concentration camps were set up. These camps were nothing to do with meditation. Meanwhile, America was working hard at harnessing the energy of the atom. The Manhattan project was success and Openheimer remembered the Geetha’s words. The U.S entered the war because of Pearl harbour and in 1945, to end the ‘The Great War’ bombed Hiroshima & Nagasaki with Little Boy & Fat Man.

History repeats itself. Noone was content with the Atom bomb. Countries tested and retested to master it, and then moved on to Hydrogen bombs with so much power they could annihilate the entire planet. Since engineers were not concerned with irony, they went about their business of finding even worse weapons to decorate their arsenal.

The Cold War was now in full swing. This would have been nice, except that it effectively divided the planet into two and did nothing to alleviate global warming.

The Soviets finally decided the Earth was too hot to handle them and sent their animals into space.Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin followed. The Americans were dismayed and decided to put one up on the Reds and sent THEIR astronauts to the Moon. The American people then exercised their Freedom and branded it a huge hoax.

In the middle of all the pseudo wars, Watson and Crick cracked the DNA structure, spawning dreams of cloning and DNA engineering one day. The television was invented and people never stopped watching soap operas after that. Electronics engineering saw a huge advance. Cray was invented in the middle of the century. It had the brains of a modern calculator and filled a room. They found an important use for the computer in cracking enemy codes.Computer science was thus born. Today computers are smaller than the manuals for their operation!

The political scene was looking bleak. In the 1990’s, the USSR fell apart and the Berlin Wall collapsed. But something even more wonderful happened. The Internet was born…

So, what will the future hold for us? Faster-than-light travel, posh residences on Mars, teleportation? Maybe we MIGHT be able to see a caveman in the flesh. Whatever it does hold, you may be sure that Engineers will always be there, to lend a helping hand to the end of days.

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5 thoughts on “The Short History

  1. Angel

    Hey girl..nice article.You are gibberish queen aren’t you??( imagine a bowing smiley ^:)^)and you know how I love gibberish..I didnt read all the way through..but its great, I can tell!! 😉

  2. analhaq

    Hey

    Good article..

    i may add, engineers thrive on this fact “Invention is the mother of all necessities”..so let him create a problem first so that he can solve it for you

  3. Senthil

    Particularly liked what you had to say about the 20th century. Great research, amazingly dry wit – had to reach for water twice while reading the passage. 🙂

    Oh, and I’m not sure of the commenting etiquette here at blogger, so I hope I’m not being rude by barging in or anything.

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