McCellan- The Industrial Revolution by David Barney

The industrial revolution that occurred in the eighteenth century had caused considerable changes to society like that of the Neolithic Revolution that occurred over 12,000 years ago where humans adopted food production. The onset of the industrial revolution had some unlikely origins as progress grew out of necessity rather than abundance. In England, the use of wood for fuel and shipbuilding had led to a shortage of wood in the country. Upon this realization, an alternative was needed.

The alternative to wood in England would be that of coal, although there still existed several problems with coal. As for smelting iron, coal was not entirely feasible to use in a blast furnace. It wasn’t until Abraham Darby discovered a method which worked by using coke or charred coal. The development of new smelting techniques would also lead to the development of the widely successful Newcomen steam engine. This engine would also be improved upon by James Watts. These discoveries were for the most part done without much previous scientific knowledge and mostly using tinkering.

The application of steam engines would further expand leading to more mechanization. Steam engines were initially used to clear water out of mine but eventually began to replace water mills as the primary source of mechanical power. Eventually, steam engines became more compact. This led to Richard Trevithick developing an early prototype of a locomotive. While unsuccessful, his locomotive did display potential application of the locomotive.

Before the locomotive, the fastest way to move a lot of goods at once was by boat. Canals would allow for boats to travel inland to more destinations. In the mid-18th century canals in England began to be constructed and becoming widespread after. Railroads would eventually take off in England in 1830 after the first public railway was opened between Liverpool and Manchester.

One of the earliest industries to experience the industrial revolution was the textile industry. Inventions such as the flying shuttle would speed up the process of making textiles but eventually, the process of textile would become more mechanized. By 1833 the textile industry would have over 100,000 power operating in England.

Along with technological revolutions came considerable social changes. Prior to the industrial revolution, over 90% of the European population lived in rural areas. The creation of large factors led to an influx of people moving to urban areas. Factories themselves began to replace the small-scale cottage industry. A large number of low paid workers also resulted in different social classes of people emerging. With a working class emerging new ideas such as those proposed by Karl Marx in this book Das Kapital which envisions the working class as the ruling class.

While many of the inventions created during the industrial revolution were done mostly independent of science, a scientific revolution would occur. The Royal Society would be a scientific society that would include engineers such as James Watt and John Smeaton.

The industrial revolution would over the course of a few hundred years change societies around the world dramatically. As it started in England, the revolution itself spread across Europe and North America. While inventions such as the steam engines and power loom made certain aspects of society easier, it also led to dramatic social changes. For the most part, a shortage of trees in England resulted in the development of several new technologies and political ideologies like Marxism.

(Word Count 565)

The first line is about the industrial revolution as it had occurred in the United States. The article mentions had the revolution began from Samuel Slater bring technologies over from England to the United States. In the United States, there was widespread construction of canals and railroads. The article also brought up the fact that the Civil War occurred during the American Industrial Revolution. Industrialist such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller would become prominent figures for their wealth and contributions to American industrialization. Similar to the McCellan article, in the United States, social changes would also occur as result from industrialization such as the progressive movement.

(Word Count 108)

The Groma by David Barney

Roman empire commonly used the Groma as a device to survey land for development. The origin of the device predates the Roman empire. Roman architect Vitruvius described the Groma as coming from the ancients. The device served many needs for military, agricultural, and civic needs. The Groma assisted the military in the construction of fortifications. For agriculture, the Groma served the purpose of identifying where to distribute land for landowners. Civil engineers used the Groma to survey land for creating roads and laying out land for streets and towns. Agrimensors, who were Roman surveyors, were the primary users of the Groma.

The Groma with the plumb lines aligned

The Groma would be placed in a certain location and used to measure angles between points from the location of the device itself. The Stelletta part of the Groma held the plumb lines known as Curnicula on its two crossed pieces of wood. The Ferramento held the Stelletta using its iron pole. The user of the Groma would position the Ferramento perpendicular to the ground. The Stelletta was rotated to aim towards a point aimed at the desired point once the Groma was ready.

Parts of the Groma

Other surveying devices besides the Groma existed in ancient Roma. Mathematician Heron of Alexandria wrote about the Groma’s inferiority to the Greek device known as the Dipotra. Despite this, the Groma’s design was simple which made it more easily accessible. The Groma led to several great Roman works that still exist today. Technologies such as aqueducts, canals, and roads required the precision of the Groma to be built. These technologies would themselves improve the standard of living for Roman citizens. The Groma would impact defensive measures through its use for projects such as Hadrian’s wall which fortified Rome’s most northern border. The Groma assisted in the planning and construction of many Roman infrastructure technologies that in turn lead to other technologies.

(Word Count 317)


Bob Stafford. “The Groma: The Tool That Built An Empire – Edited Entry.” h2g2, 2007.

Claudio Rossi. COME FUNZIONA LA GROMA Estratto Da: MISSIONE IN ATTICA Un’indagine Dell’agrimensore Quintilio e Del Liberto Hicesius, 2016.

“Roman Groma.” Ram’s Horn Educational, LLC, 2013.

“Roman Surveying.” Surveyors Historical Society, 1990.

Tandy, F., and Matteo Della Corte. “‘Groma’: The Ancient Land-Surveying Instrument.” Archaeological Journal 77, no. 1 (January 17, 1920): 207–12.

Titus Cornelius Fecit. “How to Use the Roman Groma.” De Legione Romana, 2012.

Tarkov- Engineering the Erie Canal by David Barney

Towards the beginning of the 19th century, the United States had demand for the construction of public works but a lack of domestic engineers to carry out these tasks. Often engineers from Europe had to come to the United States in order to construct public works, such as canals. The construction of the Erie canal would mark a major change in engineering and education in the United States.

Skepticism was prevalent for canals in the United States due to the failures of the previous Santee and Middlesex canals. These canals were constructed slowly, over budget, and lacked quality. Therefore, the idea of constructing a canal 363 miles long was too ambitious.

The oversight of the Erie canal was to be left in the hands of American residents as there was a lack of availability of oversees for engineers. The four men assigned for the task, Benjamin Write, James Geddes, Charles Broadhead, and Nathan S. Roberts, had to learn how to build a canal despite never seeing one. One skill these men did know was surveying. They would each work together to apply their surveying skills to the construction of a canal. As the men who designed the canal had to learn how to construct one on their own, their endeavors have been called the first engineering school in America by several historians.

The engineers of the canal had to solve several issues for the canal to be completed in a timely manner. The eastern part of the canal would be one of the most difficult parts to construct due to more changes in elevation than other sections of the canal. There was also difficulty in building a canal through the wilderness of New York. One way this problem was addressed was by the invention of a new type tree felling device, a stump puller, and a plow that used a sharp plate of iron to cut roots in the path of the canal. Another problem was a steep rise for the canal in the town of Lockport. The town has five locks that raise the canal 60 feet.

The construction of the Erie canal had resulted in a major shift in America. The Midwest now had a link to the eastern states which led to food prices dropping for eastern states and more machinery going to Midwestern states. Also, the Erie canal transformed several parts of New York and the Midwest from a wilderness into inhabited areas. Following the completion and success of the Erie canal, the demand for canals rose. Demand for canals resulted for a larger demand for technical professions in America. Canals have been important for engineering starting in America.

(Word Count 444)

Related information

The second article is about the Morrill Act which was first enacted in 1862. The act led to the donation of public land to be used to construct land-grant universities in every state. The act came as a result of the demand for education and scientific pursuit in the United States. Most colleges were established to teach agricultural and mechanical studies, but most expanded to other areas. While the Erie canal marks the start of engineering studies in America, the Morrill Act would expand education by establishing several mechanical schools, including Virginia Tech.

(Word Count 93)

Medieval Uses of Air: Lynn White, Jr. By David Barney

Prior to the 19th century, technology and science for the most part was independent of each other. This implied that scientific understanding did not always, and often did not, precede related technological developments. This was true for technology that put air to work. Medieval technology that utilized air was often simple enough to not require much scientific understanding, but useful enough to cause considerable growth in Europe.

One of the first exploitation of air goes back to the Neolithic times where sails were placed on boats to be propelled by air. Over time sail technology would evolve with developments such as fore-and-aft rigs that allowed for boats to sail in more directions including almost directly into the wind. Another early adoption of air power would be pipe organs. The pipe organ was a vary intricate device that pumped air into reeds to develop noise particularly for religious purposes. An important technology to use air in the Medieval times was bellows. Bellows were a device that were used as part of a blast furnace to provide the furnace with more air and therefore create higher temperatures to produce cast iron. The Middle ages would also see several attempts for flying utilizing gliders but due to the risk involved it never took off.

Eventually air would be put to mechanical uses through development of windmills. Windmills were developed in the Middle East in the 10th century to grind grain with millstones. European windmills would be developed later in the North Sea region before spreading rapidly through Europe. In flat areas, windmills took the role of watermills due to the lack flowing water. Windmills became so prevalent that much of the deforestation in England around the 14th century can be accredited to the construction of windmills.

Late in the Medieval period compressed air would be another useful invention created to move materials. Technology such as suctions pumps were used to lift water out of the ground.

What I believe White is trying to convey is that simple useful technology such as wind technology does not necessarily need scientific understanding to be created. Devices such as sails, blast furnaces, windmill and suction pumps had immediate and influential importance for the technological development for Europe during the Medieval time.

Here are some related readings:

The first reading is about Eilmer of Malmesbury. Eilmer was a monk who constructed a glider a flew 200 meters before crashing. Despite breaking both of his legs, Eilmer made plans for another flight after believing that a tail to his glider would improve stability. While gliders and air travel never became extremely successful during the Medieval times, Eimer’s feat was one attempt to advance flight technology.

(Word Count 447)

Geselowitz: Classical Greeks by David Barney

Ancient Greece experienced an interval of technological and theoretical growth in the “Classical Period.” During this time, Greece was made up of several independent city-states that competed for trading and fought wars. Competition between city-states as well as Phoenician influence had allowed for technology to flourish in Greece.

The Greeks had several influences that they adopted ideas from and improved upon. From the Egyptians the Greeks learn sculpture, which over time developed into a distinctive Greek style and Architecture. The Greeks would also refine the Phoenician alphabet to create their own. The Greek alphabet would be used in everyday writing for laws, legal purposes, and trade. One of the most famous ancient Greek scientists was Archimedes. Archimedes would use his knowledge to develop the Archimedean Screw which moved water to a higher elevation.

While the Greeks used much of their knowledge for practical things, objects such as the Aeolipile, were not put to practical use. The Aeolipile was a Greek version of a steam engine that worked by having water heated up in a cauldron and sent to a sphere with nozzles that expelled the steam in a direction that would rotate the sphere. This device was developed by Hero of Alexandria who used the device for amusement rather than any practical means.

The Greeks were, at first, not as advance as the Phoenicians. But the Greeks would learn and improve on much of what they learned from the Phoenicians. The Greeks adopted the Trireme ship type. From the use of this ship it became apparent that a well-trained group was needed for success in sea battles. From this the Greeks developed the Phalanx which was a well train group of soldiers that fought on land. The Greeks developed shields and spears of varied length to be used for the Phalanx.

The Greeks would continue to take what they knew how to do and improve, leading to improved ships, construction, and weaponry. These benefits would have later implications for the success of Rome.

David Barney (Word Count 333)