Essay Example on the Shaping of Science & Technology: 1600s to Present

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Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1535 Words
Date:  2023-06-06


The world of today went through several transformations in the field of science and technology. From the 1600s, many inventions continue to emerge to present. Imperatively, the history of science and technology is rooted in world events such as the Industrial Revolution, Imperialism well as the World War era, where technology changed from the use of coal and steam power, steamships to electricity, and firearms. The technology of these three durations led to industrialization in countries like Britain and the U.S. as they facilitated massive production. Additionally, the advancement in science and technology led to colonization as well as fueling World War I and World War II. Notably, different leaders utilized the technological advancements in different ways, which in the long resulted in the civilization of people as well as contributing to massive deaths. The paper presents a comparison of science and technology of the three civilizations periods of the Industrial Revolution, Imperialism Age, and World War era.

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Science and Technology of The Industrial Revolution (1700-1900)

Britain is regarded as the source of the first stage of the Industrial Revolution ranging from the 18th and 19th centuries (1700-1900), which was fostered by protectionism trade policies. Inefficiencies observed among the mercantilists necessitated the earliest industrialization because industries would enable Britain to export more products. The Industrial Revolution in Britain accompanied technological inventions such as the steam engine, the spinning jenny, and the coke smelting that cumulatively resulted in mass prosperity in British and Europe in totality (Clark, 2014). The high nominal wage for building laborers in the 16th and 17th centuries was an incentive for technology in Europe and Asia. In particular, England opted to replace the expensive labor with cheap fuel, especially in coal mines, because coal was not only abundant. The cheap energy-technology was useful in the production of metals and bricks for construction, which led to the takeoff of the coal industry.

Cugnnot Fardier also invented a high-pressure steam engine which was useful in pulling rail wagons from the coal mines. Given that this technology was expensive to operate, British scientists invented more mechanical technologies such as warmly mill accompanied by Newcomen steam engines that were used in pumping water from reservoirs (Hussain & Aziz, 2018). This technology helped Britain and France to achieve the economic objective of reducing real wage costs; for instance, the powering mill eliminated wheel turners. However, most of the mentioned capital intensive technologies that dominated the 17th and 18th centuries were more profitable in Britain as compared to other countries such as Germany, France, and Belgium because the coal energy was by far cheaper in England. Scientists also invented the Arkwright mills, machines for cotton spinning, which raised capital-labor ratios and increased cloth production industries in many European nations (Tomory, 2016).Notably, the British leaders focused on rapid economic growth through industrial production, hence embraced the use of a capital intensive method of production because it was cheaper compared to labor services. Furthermore, the Industrial Revolution changed the lives of Europeans, as many people embraced literacy and inventions by scientific methods such as mathematics and experimentation.

Science and Technology Imperialism Age (1800-1920)

Imperialism connotes a policy where a powerful country extends its power to foreign nations either through military force and takes control of the political and economic affairs. Notably, science and technology advanced during this stage alongside the trade policy of laissez-faire adopted by England and the U.S. for economic gains. This era was different from the Industrial Revolution because most of the trade restrictions were eliminated, but industrialized countries navigated into Africa and Asian nations to form colonies. Notably, in early 1900, scientists focused on improving technological devices and machines invented during the Industrial Revolution, where the European empires traveled to form colonies and get raw materials and minerals such as Gold and silver (Saccarelli & Varadarajan, 2015). Some of the inventions during this age included the development of steamships, the astrolabe, magnetic compasses submarine cables, the Suez canals, and, among others. This technology was more advanced compared to those of the Industrial Revolution era.

The technologies invented during imperialism age helped Industrialized European empires to penetrate Africa and Asia, forming colonies (Saccarelli & Varadarajan, 2015). The steamship was one of the vital technologies that acted as a means of transportation, which enabled Europeans to reach distant places moving on water and exercise colonial power. The invention of the astrolabe and magnetic compasses helped the industrialized European countries to identify the direction of the targeted areas as well as managing time and communication channels (Krige & Wang, 2015). The leaders of industrialized countries like Britain achieved their political and economic objectives since they gained more raw materials for their industries. Importantly, imperialism resulted in undesirable outcomes because some people in colonized nations were taken as slaves, but at the same time, the technology spilled to these colonies. As a result, local people got civilized through education and the adoption of new technologies.

Science and Technology the World at War (1914-1945)

The urge by industrialized countries to extent authorities led to the emergence of the world war as they scrambled to dominate political and economic spheres. The Industrial Revolution and imperialism advancements sparked World War I, which lasted for four years (1914-1918).Word War I emanated from four main factors Nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and assassinations (Anievas, 2015).Notably, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, an act that triggered Germany to declare war on Russia after allying with Serbia. World War I exhibited several scientific and technological developments, particularly in military equipment for launching attacks on enemies. The weapons included warplanes, tanks, machine guns, submarines, grenades, poison gases, among others. The technological inventions during the World War period were different from the technologies of the Industrial Revolution and Imperialism because most of the equipment were invented as self-defense against enemies. Leaders of countries such as Germany wanted to show their military capabilities. The technology and science of this era resulted in massive deaths and displacement of people hence disrupting peace contrary to the other two eras that aimed at economic prosperity.

World War II is another historical era that showcases technological advancement. This bloody fight lasted for almost six years from 1939-1945, and it stemmed from the rise of militarism in and Japan as well as Germany. According to Winkler (2015), new weapons were introduced during World War II battles, such as the invention of the radar that was mainly used by Britain. This weapon was developed to help in detecting any coming enemy planes in the space using the radio waves. Other technological weapons included pistols, rockets, mines, missiles, chemical, and atomic weapons, tanks, and computers. This era is the deadliest in history because these technological weapons led to the holocaust, where almost two million died.


From the discussion, it is evident that there are some similarities and more differences in the science and technology of the three civilizations phases; the Industrial Revolution (1700-1900), the Age of Imperialism (1800-1920), and the World at War (1914-1945). Scientific inventions such as steam engines, warmly mill, and Arkwright mills dominated the Industrial Revolution era that led to Industrialization in countries like Britain, France, Belgium, and the U.S. Contrary to Industrial Revolution, transportation technology characterized imperialism age. The inventions included steamships, submarine cables, the Suez canals, astrolabe, magnetic compasses, and firearms. Conclusively, World War 1 and World War II were dominated by the development of military firearms such as warplanes, tanks, machine guns, submarines, grenades, the radar, pistol, rockets, mines, missiles, chemical and atomic weapons, tanks, and computers. These scientific and technological inventions changed peoples' livelihoods as they resulted in industrialization, colonization, and massacres.


Anievas, A. (2015). Cataclysm 1914: The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics. Brill.

Clark, G. (2014). The Industrial Revolution. In Handbook of economic growth (Vol. 2, pp. 217-262). Elsevier.

Hussain, T., & Aziz, M. H. (2018). The pattern of Industrial Growth and Revolutions. The Nucleus, 55(4), 182-192.

Krige, J. & Wang, J. (2015). Nation, Knowledge, and Imagined Futures: Science, Technology, and Nation-Building, Post-1945, History and Technology, 31:3, 171-179, DOI: 10.1080/07341512.2015.1126022

Tomory, L. (2016). Technology in the British Industrial Revolution. History Compass, 14(4), 152-167.

Winkler, H. A. (2015). The Age of Catastrophe: A History of the West 1914-1945. Yale University Press.

Saccarelli, E., & Varadarajan, L. (2015). Imperialism past and present. Oxford University Press, USA.

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