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Technological Advances

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CONTROL OF FIRE - Evidence for very early control of fire is sparse and ambiguous. The controlled use of fire was an invention of the Early Stone Age (or Lower Paleolithic). Fire was first controlled by humans anywhere from about 230,000 years ago to 1.4 or 1.5 million years ago, depending on which evidence you accept as definitive.

• The earliest evidence for control of fire by humans, in the form of fires at Swartkrans, South Africa and at Chesowanja, in Kenya, suggests that it may possibly have been in use there as early as about 1.4 or 1.5 million years ago.

• The earliest evidence for controlled use of fire is at the Lower Paleolithic site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in Israel, where charred wood and seeds were recovered from a site dated 790,000 years ago.

• Evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus beginning some 400,000 years ago has wide scholarly support, while claims regarding earlier evidence are mostly dismissed as inconclusive or sketchy.

IRRIGATION - Irrigation began at about the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia (present day Iraq and Iran) using the water of the flooding Nile or Tigris/Euphrates rivers around 6000 BC. The flood waters, which occurred July through December, were diverted to fields for 40 to 60 days. The water was then drained back into the river at the right moment in the growing cycle.

WHEEL - Up till now, it is still a mystery as to who invented the wheel and when the wheel was invented. According to archaeologists, it was probably invented in around 8,000 B.C. in Asia. The oldest wheel known however, was discovered in Mesopotamia (part of modern day Iraq) and probably dates back to 3,500 B.C. by the Sumerians.

PRINTING PRESS - In 1440, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. The inventor's method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks, allowed for the first time the mass production of printed books.

STEAM ENGINE - Thomas Savery was an English military engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam engine, based on Denis Papin's Digester or pressure cooker of 1679. Thomas Savery had been working on solving the problem of pumping water out of coal mines, his machine consisted of a closed vessel filled with water into which steam under pressure was introduced.

REFRIGERATION - The first known method of artificial refrigeration was demonstrated by William Cullen at the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1748. Cullen used a pump to create a partial vacuum over a container of diethyl ether, which then boiled, absorbing heat from the surrounding air. The experiment even created a small amount of


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