Top 10 Modern Technologies That Are Actually Ancient


10. Flamethrowers The flamethrower is thought to have been invented
in 1901 by Richard Fielder as a petroleum weapon. It was first used in World War 1. But 1300 years earlier, the Byzantine Empire
was already using a unique weapon that could burn on water, called Greek Fire. They used
it as a naval flamethrower to set enemy ships ablaze. Modern scholars speculate that it was made
using petroleum and sulfur, but exactly how it worked remains a mystery. By the 1950s, the US army was using a similar
explosive weapon that also used petroleum. It was called Napalm and was infamously used
to burn down jungles during the Vietnam War. 9. Plastic surgery Modern plastic surgery was developed by Sir
Harold Gillies [Gil leys] in 1917. He used skin grafting to treat the facial burn injuries
of Walter Yeo, who was horrifically wounded in World War 1. But plastic surgery dates back to at least
3,000 BC. Ancient Egyptians actually introduced the practice of nasal reconstruction, as documented
in the Edwin Smith Papyrus. This was often done to rebuild thieves’ noses, which were
cut off as a punishment for stealing. 8. Vending machine Vending machines were first introduced in
late 19th Century London to dispense postcards and books. But the vending machine has a 2,000-year history.
In the 1st Century, the Greek physicist Hero created coin-operated machines that dispensed
holy water in temples. A coin placed in the machine’s slot would
push down on a lever, releasing water, until the coin would eventually fall off. These were introduced to stop worshipers from
taking more holy water than they were paying for. Today vending machines dispense everything
from burritos in Los Angeles, to mashed potato in Singapore, and even schoolgirls’ used
panties in Japan. 7. Alarm Clocks The invention of the alarm clock is usually
accredited to Levi Hutchins. [Lee Vy] [Hut chins] In 1787 he created a clock that made
an alarm sound every day at 4am. But around 440 BC in Ancient Greece, the philosopher
Plato used a water clock to wake him up for his lectures. Plato’s water clock resembled an hourglass
that gradually filled up with water through various tubes and siphons. When these vessels filled up quickly, they
would produce a whistling sound, waking the sleeper up. 6. Earthquake detector In 1875 the Italian scientist Filippo Cecchi
[Phil-lee-po] [Check key] invented the modern seismograph to detect earthquakes. This consisted
of two vibrating pendulums and a large metal coil. But the lifesaving practice of predicting
earthquakes began almost 2,000 years ago, when Chinese inventor Zhang Heng [Ja ang]
[Heng] created the very first seismoscope in 132 AD. Zhang’s seismoscope was a 1.8m bronze vessel,
ornamented with dragons. When an earthquake was detected, a small bronze ball would drop
from the mouth of a dragon into the vessel, acting as an alarm. Six years after inventing the device, Zhang
used it to detect a magnitude 7 earthquake 2,500 km away in the Gansu Province. 5. Automatic doors In 1954, American entrepreneurs Dee Horton
and Lew Hewitt were inspired to create automatic doors to combat the problem of swing doors
in windy weather. But in 50 BC, Hero of Alexandria had already
beaten them to it, designing an automatic door for temples. When Priests lit a fire on the door altar,
it caused pressure to build up in a brass vessel. This activated a water pump, which
displaced the mechanism’s weight, causing a series of ropes and pulleys to slide the
temple doors open. 4. Batteries The history of the battery is often traced
back to 18th Century Italian scientist Luigi Galvani. He discovered that when he attached
2 pieces of metal to the legs of a dead frog, the legs would twitch, indicating the presence
of electricity. Inspired by Galvani’s experiment, physicist
Alessandro Volta built a crude battery in 1799, which consisted of copper zinc disks
and cardboard, soaked in acid. But this wasn’t the first. In 1938 an archaeologist
discovered a clay pot in Baghdad, containing a copper cylinder and an iron rod. These are
thought by some archeologists to be an early battery from 200 BC. They’ve been dubbed the ‘Baghdad Batteries’,
but expert on Iraqi archaeology, Professor Elizabeth Stone, stated that she does not
know a single archaeologist who believed that these were batteries. However, in 2005 Mythbusters proved that the
artifact could produce 4 volts of electricity when acidic solution was added to the iron
electrodes in the vessel. And this charge that would have been strong enough to electroplate
coins or jewelry. 3. The computer In 1900 a 2000-year-old machine known as the
Antikythera [Anti-kithera] mechanism was discovered in a shipwreck. For more than 100 years, scientists were mystified
as to the purpose of this highly complex and ancient device, which was comprised of intricate
bronze cogs and dials. Today it’s theorized that this is an analog
computer created by the ancient Greeks to determine astronomical positions, eclipses,
and the dates of Olympic games. Another mechanism of the same complexity wouldn’t
be made for another 1,500 years, when in 1834 scientist Charles Babbage devised the first
ever mechanical computer, an analytical engine that calculated mathematical functions. Measuring 3 meters long and weighing 5 tons,
Babbage’s device is quite a contrast to Apple’s 28-cm, 1kg MacBook air. 2. Death ray In 2007 the US military unveiled the Active
Denial System. This weapon releases highly focused particle beams as hot as 50C, that
are capable of inflicting 2nd degree burns. But in 212 BC the Greek physicist Archimedes
had already invented a death ray. He used highly polished copper to reflect sunlight
onto approaching ships, causing them to catch fire. In 2004 Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters
tried and failed to replicate Archimedes’ death ray, as they couldn’t achieve the
593C temperature needed to ignite the ship. But 1 year later, researchers at MIT University
managed to set an oak ship ablaze after just 10 minutes of reflecting sunlight onto it. 1. Robots The first electronic autonomous robots were
created by William Grey Walter in 1948. Shaped like tortoises, the robots were capable of
re-locating their recharging station when they ran low on battery power. But the existence of robotics dates back 2,000
years to the ancient Greek engineer Hero of Alexandria. Hailed as the first roboticist, Hero engineered
steam-powered automatons to put on theatrical performances for audiences. The robots could
be programmed to do specific tasks and then left to themselves to complete the work, using
a system of pulleys, carts, and rotating cylinders.

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