Thursday, October 19, 2006

Times change

A lot of things have got me thinking about how times have changed. In the last thirty years the way we do things has changed almost beyond recognition. Or at least, that’s what I thought at first.

On second glance, we don’t know the meaning of change. We still drive cars filled with gasoline to our homes in the suburbs. While we did send a man to the moon, that was in 1969–thirty SEVEN years ago. We haven’t sent anybody to explore a new terrestrial body since. We still cook with the same stoves (the first home microwave oven came out in 1952!) We still use the same power supplies we’ve been using for over a century. Really, the only thing at all different is our communications. Personal computers, the internet and cell phones may have changed how we do some things, but for the most part our lives remain the same.

Now lets take a look at the early Victorian era. These people had to deal with CHANGE. From 1838 to1868, the world turned upside down. A good horse, a stiffened sail and some heavy shoe leather suddenly had competition to fill our transportation needs. Railroads began to span the distances, and if you couldn’t go by train, chances are a steamship would move you in the right direction. People began to travel, and more and more often families were separated by many miles. But that was okay; we could communicate via telegraph!

If we forgot what our loved ones looked like, they could send us a daguerreotype photograph. If we wanted to tell the entire village something, we could put an article in the newspapers that sprung up once the rotary printing press was invented.

Our homes could be built with reinforced concrete, and we could even safeguard them with the invention of the cylinder lock.

Imagine how life changed with the steel plow, the refrigerating machine, and condensed milk. Now add pasteurization, the hypodermic syringe, and antiseptic surgery. If your brain wasn’t swimming by this point, you could take your first elevator ride.

But while these new inventions touched on almost every aspect of our daily lives, one change was bigger than all the rest. Charles Darwin published the Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle in 1838, then came out with The Origin of Species in 1859.

Even if you didn’t believe his ridiculous "Theory of Evolution" nonsense, you now had to THINK about it. Not even Galileo had so many people THINKING about the world they lived in. Life would never be the same.

(On the other hand, did I just read we've invented an invisibility cloaking device?)

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