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History 4, Lesson 180 – Inventions

This is the final week of History Grade 4, and this week I learned about Morphine, the Jacquard Loom, Inventions and Worldview, and Inventions and Patterns.


There weren’t many choices for medicine in the ancient world, and “cures” were painful and fatal. Friedrich Serturner invented morphine from opium in 1804 after spending years learning and practicing chemistry. Morphine is a very powerful pain medication that blocks pain signals and creates feeling of happiness. After a few years of struggling to get the word out in papers, his human experiments finally caught the attention of companies searching for morphine.

Morphine led to powerful pain treatments, heroine, and, surprisingly, Coca-Cola!

Jacquard Loom

  The rich nobility has always preferred to wear fancy clothes with intricately woven designs, while the poor wore dirty worn out rags. A series of developments in the 1700s led Jacquard to combine them and invent the loom in 1804. It uses a programmable punched card to automate the weaving of complex patterns in fabric. The machines suffer resistance from mobs at first, but could not be stopped from spreading to factories across the world.

The punched card idea was extended into numerous industries, leading to the programmable computer.

Inventions and Worldview

  Almost all cultures in the past believed in cyclical time, except those who were based on the Bible.  The Greeks believed in cyclical time, which made them fail in their inventions. They didn’t believe in work, they left work to their slaves. Plus, they thought that their inventions were going to get destroyed in the end. The Christian’s worldview of linear time spread across the world quickly after the Roman Empire collapsed. Different worldviews play a big part in why inventions have different outcomes.

Thanks to the Christian’s linear worldview it proved the importance of our work.

Inventions and Patterns

With all the inventions that have been invented over the ages I think that anyone that has done this History course will realize that there is a pattern in how these inventions. Not the invention itself, but how it’s invented. Something odd. The inventors usually notice something odd. They run some tests or experiments and has a “eureka!” moment. Figure the problem out, and voila! One new invention, fresh, straight out of the oven. But, it isn’t just that. The inventors are open minded, and is excited to try something never done before.

Another important pattern is the inventions are labor-saving. That results in lowering the cost of the finished project.

As you can see all these inventions have patterns.  Worldviews have a big part, and morphine and the jacquard loom are very important inventions.



History 4, Lesson 175 – Inventions

This week I learned about how the smallpox vaccination was invented, the Voltaic Pile, the Arc light, and Dalton’s Atomic Theory.

The Smallpox Vaccination

The smallpox vaccination was invented by Edward Jenner. He noticed a peculiar similarity between smallpox, cowpox, and milkmaids. Why milkmaids? Well, first you need to understand cowpox. Cowpox is an infection on the cows’ udders, which humans can contract. It isn’t deadly to humans, but can be fatal if the immune system isn’t working as it should.  The milkmaids contracted this infection, and, surprisingly when there was a smallpox epidemic, the milkmaids didn’t contract smallpox.

Edward Jenner noticed this. He tried an experiment. For the experiment he needed samples of cowpox and smallpox. He also needed a human “guinea pig”. He injected his test subject with cowpox. Then, a week later, he injected his test subject with smallpox. His subject didn’t contract smallpox!  Jenner publicized his discovery in scientific journals all over the world.

By 1979, smallpox was completely eradicated. Millions of lives have been saved, and life expectancy increased.

Voltaic Pile

The Italian professor of physics, Alessandro Volta invented the battery, after hearing about Luigi Galvani’s frog leg experiment. The voltaic pile uses chemical reactions to produce steady current output over a long period of time. Its invention was published in a paper, which caught the attention of others because it made new kinds of experiments possible.

The voltaic pile led to modern lighting and electromagnetism.

The Arc Light

The arc light was invented in the 1800s by Humphrey Davy. Davy became a famous scientist, and pioneered advances in chemistry and electricity. This helped him invent the arc light. The arc light is a very bright lamp that uses electricity to ionize the air and slowly burn carbon rods.

The arc light led to the formation of the modern power industry and Hollywood.

Dalton’s Atomic Theory

John Dalton was a chemist, physicist, and meteorologist who used his interest in meteorology and study of gases to develop his atomic theory. It provided a framework for discussing and understanding the basis of chemical elements and reactions. Dalton promoted his own theory to his colleagues and scientific friends, as well through his teachings.

Without Dalton’s theory we wouldn’t have an understanding of chemistry.

As you can see, all these inventions play a huge part in everyday life. You may not realize it, but it does.

History 4, Lesson 170 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Semaphore Telegraph, the Cotton Gin, Eli Whitney, and the Hydraulic Press.

 The Semaphore Telegraph

Prior to 1792 the fastest information was about 10 mph. Claude Chappe developed the semaphore telegraph out the inspiration gained from his astronomer uncle. The telegraph could transmit coded messages visually at almost 300 mph. Thanks to the Semaphore telegraph world maps were redrawn, the electrical telegraph was invented, and wireless broadcasting.

The Cotton Gin

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin after a visit to the Greene plantation in Georgia. It increased cotton production by 20 times or more because it quickly removed the seeds from cotton balls. The benefits were so obvious that so many people pirated it that Whitney almost went bankrupt. It led to the Civil War and the rise of American manufacturing.

Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney eventually embraced his mechanical aptitude and became an inventor. He invented the cotton gin and made the process of interchangeable parts a reality in America. He won the confidence of the US government and the interest of visitors from all over the world. His inventions led to the Civil War and the rise of American manufacturing.

The Hydraulic Press

Metal shapes were limited by the methods available prior to the 1800s. Joseph Bramah invented the hydraulic press in 1795 after developing machines to make unbreakable locks. The press can apply tons of force and crush very hard metal in moments. Gold under the hydraulic press gets crushed like its playdough! It spread throughout England and America in the machine tool industry and in farming. As a result metalwork became much more elaborate and complex.

History 4, Lesson 165 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Steamboat, Robert Fulton, the Argand Lamp, and the Power Loom.

The Steamboat

Robert Fulton was the inventor of the steamboat. Fulton succeeded in sustain a potential business, which lead to great steamboat production. John Fitch however succeeded with a 30-passenger boat, in 1787. Steamboats were a huge help, they delivered goods and passengers faster than boats without steam engines. They also allowed boats to travel upstream, something that was difficult for other boats. The steamboats impact was, making gold trade possible. They also played a part in America’s involvement in WWI.

Robert Fulton

  Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor. The steamboat industry was born under Fulton, not only did he invent the steamboat, he advanced submarines and warships. His success was all thanks to Robert Livingston’s influence and wealth. By the 1900s hundreds of steamboats were in operation and the Erie Canal was promoting Westward expansion.

The Argand Lamp

Oil lamp technology remained unchanged for thousands of years. Jean Argand invented the first new oil lamp in 1780 based on his mechanical skills and scientific training. The argand lamp was around 8 times brighter than a candle. It became the world standard by 1850 because Argand couldn’t enforce his patent. The lamp had a controversial history in the American lighthouse industry. The argand lamp led to the adoption of the Fresnel lens.

Power Lamp

Edmund Cartwright was an Anglican minister who invented the power loom without any mechanical skills. The power loom increased fabric quality and labor efficiency. The device helped revolutionize labor, farms, and cities, and became part of the backbone of the Industrial Revolution.

History 4, Lesson 160 – Invention

This week I learned about Benjamin Thompson, Gas Lighting, William Murdoch, and the Screw-Cutting Lathe.

Benjamin Thompson

He was inspired by his apprenticeship and Harvard lectures.  Benjamin experimented with the heat transfer theory which leads to modern thermodynamics. His theories were resisted, but his contributions were honored during his lifetime in Europe and America. He impacted most areas of modern living in some areas.

Gas Lighting

By the 1700s, scientific interest in flammable gases and growing cities stimulated interest in new forms of lighting. William Murdoch was an engineer for Watt who invented gas lighting on the side by 1792. It provided low-maintenance lighting and extended the working day. Market competition helped the technology spread from England to America, Russia, and other places. Productivity increased and opened doors for electric lighting.

William Murdoch

Murdoch left Scotland and found success in England by expressing and honing his mechanical talents for James Watt. Murdoch invented gas lighting and also improved the steam engine behind the scenes. As gas lighting spread throughout the world, so did his reputation. He contributed to the modern world’s adoption of electricity and the railroad.

The Screw-Cutting Lathe

Screws wore known of in the 1700s, but they were incredibly difficult to make. Henry Maudsley used his mechanical skills to fashion the screw-cutting lathe. I t made it possible to create identical interchangeable screws by relatively unskilled labor. Maudsley extended this idea in Britain in partnership with Marc Brunel. The idea of machines and interchangeable parts caught on quicker in the America than in Britain.


History 4, Lesson 155 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Lightning Rod, Benjamin Franklin, the Glass Harmonica, and the Swivel Chair.

The Lightning Rod

Benjamin Franklin invented lightning rod. The lightning rod diverts lightning strikes and reduces the chance of fire and electrical damage. The lightning rod was doubted at first; however, they became more popular as they spread to Europe. Today the lightning rod prevents millions of dollars in damage, and played a role in the rise of modern France.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a prolific inventor, business, statesman, and scientist.  Boston was the center of Puritan America; his world view was shaped by his Bostonian upbringing. His newspaper and his almanac produced his fame. Thanks to Franklin the USA has become the most prosperous nation in the world.

The Glass Harmonica

Benjamin Franklin modified the glass harp, and turned into the glass harp. The harmonica produces an ethereal sound, that’s oddly pleasing. The glass harmonica is used in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in the Nutcracker. It was initially quite popular, but faded by the 1820s for multiple reasons. However, they started making a comeback in the 1980s.

The Swivel Chair

 Thomas Jefferson, from Virginia invented the swivel chair. It offers comfort and convenience that regular stationary chairs don’t. They’re basic elements of any modern work environment. Fun Fact: The Declaration of Independence was written with Jefferson sitting in his chair.


History 4, Lesson 150 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Parachute, Selective Breeding, Electrolysis, the Threshing Machine, and their impacts.

The Parachute

 The parachute was invented by Sebastien Lenormand in 1783. Even though he got the credit for the first parachute, Leonardo Da Vinci came up with the idea a hundred years before. Parachutes allow people and objects to be safely dropped from a plane. The way a parachute works is simple. When you drop out of a plane, our relatively compact body falls through the air like a rock. If you open your parachute it creates more air resistance, letting you drift down slowly and safely, more like a feather than a rock.

Selective Breeding

 Selective breeding is when a male and female animal (specifically cows) gets chosen to mate.  People invented selective breeding for many reasons. One reason is better milk production. For example, if you choose your best cows to mate, you get the best cow. However there are cons. One is that if both of the cows have a 50% chance of getting an illness, then the calf has a high chance of getting that illness.


Electrolysis separates elements from compounds and can be used to create gases. It was used throughout the 1800s to uncover the periodic table of elements. Electrolysis is used in modern industrial processes to make rocket –fuel.

The Threshing Machine

 A threshing machine is a piece of farm equipment that threshes grain, removes the seeds from the stalks, and then husks. It does it by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out. The threshing machine sped up how quickly wheat could be harvested while reducing the number of laborers required harvesting it. Other farmers quickly purchased, and then copied, the invention. It produced the agriculture revolution which really hasn’t stopped


History 4, Lesson 145 – Inventions

This week I learned about Soda Water, Joseph Priestly, the Weighing Scale, and the Boring Machine.

Soda Water

   Joseph Priestly invented soda water in 1767 while investigating air. Though he did invent soda water the English’s fascination with sparkling wine prompted scientific curiosity, and investigation. Schweppes first took soda water to mainstream commercial success in the 1800s. It lead to the multi-billion dollar soft drink industry.

Joseph Priestly

Joseph Priestly investigated air and dabbled in science. He discovered oxygen, invented soda water, and wrote an influential book on the history of electricity. His findings extended his influence, as did his teaching and preaching. Several important electrical discoveries were made because men read Priestley’s book.

The Weighing Scale

   The scale was invented by Ricard Salter, a British balance maker. Salter built a successful company, to sell the scales. Other scales were created as needs grew. Weighing scales are basic components to most of the commercial and industrial processes today, and are even used in many houses.

The Boring Machine

   The Boring Machine is a useful invention to impact machines that run with air.  Before the boring machine, cannons would randomly fire which scared anyone using it. Battle was hard with someone being afraid of their own cannon. Not the enemies’ cannon. However, there came a solution, a man named John Wilkinson invented the Boring Machine, which gave more control over the cannons. The boring machine was used on Watt’s steam engine. It was used to make better cannons which didn’t explode randomly. The boring machine created interest in the machine industry in general, which led to interchangeable parts.

History 4, Lesson 140 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Lead Chamber Process, the Spinning Jenny, Richard Arkwright, and James Watt.

The Lead Chamber Process

  John Roebuck invented the lead chamber process. The lead chamber process is method used to produce sulfuric acid (H2SO4) in big quantities. It dramatically increased sulfuric acid production. His wealth funded the iron and steam engine markets, which were the cornerstone of the Industrial Revolution.

The Spinning Jenny

The weaving industry up to the 18th century was literally a ‘cottage industry’ (means a business in people’s homes). James Hargreaves was a poor weaver who invented the Spinning Jenny. It allowed one spinner to produce a hundred threads at the same time, instead of one at a time. He sold a few and kept one for himself. James’s product was copied by other mills. Combined with the flying shuttle, it moved the textile industry towards factory systems.

Richard Arkwright

   Wig fashion was a profitable industry in the 1700s. This encouraged Richard Arkwright to start in wig making. He hired some inventors to develop new labor-saving, output-increasing machines. His factory system spread across England and into Scotland. His methods were copied to bring in the Industrial Revolution.

James Watt

   James Watt learned engineering skills from an early age and applied them to his own business to earn income. He invented the improved steam engine sun-and-planet gear, and a method for copying papers. Other inventors liked his design, so his design was ‘pirated’ by Newcomen engine owners. The steam engine gave way to the locomotive and became the backbone of the Industrial Revolution.



History 4, Lesson 135 – Inventions

This week I learned about the Flying Shuttle, the Marine Chronometer, Anders Celsius, and the Leyden Jar.

The Flying Shuttle

John Kay invented and patented the flying shuttle. The flying shuttle was a machine that allowed one weaver to weave much wider fabrics faster and more efficiently. Pirated used Kay’s shuttle and nearly bankrupted him through patent lawsuits. The shuttle led to mass- production factories in the Industrial Revolution.

The Marine Chronometer

John Harrison invented the chronometer in 1735. Harrison’s chronometer was highly accurate, precise, and immune to the harsh environmental effects encountered at sea. Parliament was reluctant to give John the money for his invention, but Captain James Cook’s praise was influential. John Harrison’s chronometer is responsible for the rise of the British Royal Navy.

Anders Celsius

 Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer, physics, and mathematician. Anders came from a family of scientists; he decided to continue the “family business”. He had a great deal of accomplishments; his most famous is the Celsius temperature. His influence spread after gaining fame from participating in the trek to North Sweden. The Celsius temperature scale is the world standard (except in the US).

The Leyden Jar

 Interest in electricity grew out of a mysterious glow that was noticed from within mercury barometer. Two scientists discovered the first battery, the Leyden Jar. It stores electrical charge and made routine electrical experiments possible. It was marketed to rich, curious scientists, and popularized by the efforts of Daniel Gralath. It led to the advancement of the battery and furthered the march of the modern world.