French Inventions of the Eighteenth Century

French Inventions of the Eighteenth Century

French Inventions of the Eighteenth Century

French Inventions of the Eighteenth Century

Excerpt

In the rapid social advance of the last two and half centuries, science and invention have played a gigantic role. There is no one living today, at least in a civilized country, who is not very much their debtor. At every turn we enjoy conveniences and advantages that even the most highborn and favored of the eighteenth century did not dream of. Our homes and offices have been transformed by artificial lighting and heating, hydraulic accommodations, close-fitting windows, and numerous other devices not known in that day. Communication and entertainment have been revolutionized through radio, television, the telephone, and the telegraph. Transportation has been so altered by the automobile, the locomotive, the Pullman car, the steamship, and the airplane, that the problems of distance largely have been eliminated and the traveler may journey almost as speedily as his fancy may wish and pocketbook permit. Agriculture is carried on today in an entirely different manner, with motorized machinery, chemical fertilizers, and insecticides; banking and financial institutions have been able to multiply their services a hundredfold through elaborate calculating machines; packing houses and food stores, through canning, refrigeration, and rapidly transported foodstuffs, have completely altered the diet of the public and placed it, save possibly for periods of war and civil disturbance, free from the former specter of famine. This list of the transformations in human activities could be greatly extended. If it were possible for one who lived in the eighteenth century to return to the world today, he would be baffled at every turn by what he would see and hear.

The historian of course is interested in these changes and what has caused them. Distinctly it has been the work of invention and science which has transformed the world for man even more than the fabled lamp of Aladdin. It is perhaps best to speak of the agents as twofold, for the majority of inventors have not been . . .

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