When you hear the words invention and technology, your eyes may glaze over with visions of a Blade Runner-esque future. However, as you will find out, sometimes inventions are so perfect that they never go out of style, and we should celebrate that.
The pulley, thought to be first invented at least 3,000 years ago, is a simple machine whose purpose is to reduce the amount of equivalent force required to move something. Pulleys allow you to lift heavy things with far less effort by multiplying the force you use through the use of wheels.
For example, if you need to lift something that is 200 kilograms but you can only lift 50 kilograms of weight, you should use a pulley with 4 wheels. You use the rope attached to the item, loop it through the 4 wheels, and then pull. The weight is now dispersed amongst the four wheels, and you only need to pull a quarter of the original weight (200 ÷ 4 = 50). The only difference is you now need to pull the rope four times further because the original 200 kilograms of weight is spread out amongst the longer rope. This genius invention has allowed civilizations throughout history to build magnificent buildings, let sailors traverse vast oceans on huge ships and continues to be used in modern industrial manufacturing.
From personal communication to massive commercial record keeping and everything in between paper has been instrumental in the development and organisation of hundreds of societies. Few inventions have been so widely and continuously used as paper which has been around for at least 2,000 years. While many people are switching to digital record keeping and communication paper is still heavily in use for most companies, governments and individuals.
The humble wheelbarrow has been a mainstay at construction sites for just under 2,000 years. Allowing exceptional manoeuvrability and functioning in much the same way a pulley does (distributing the weight between the wheel and the operator), the wheelbarrow's design has barely changed from its original designs. While the material has changed in some areas, from wood to its sturdier counterpart, metal, many places still use versions of the wheelbarrow that would not be out of place 2,000 years ago.
While the fact that these three items are thousands of years old may seem trivial it allows us an opportunity to reflect on our understanding of the future, particularly in relation to technology. Sometimes inventions do stand the test of time and are not replaceable. It is important to not seek change just for the sake of change and perhaps the best example of this is the pulley. It is so perfect in its original design and has and still affects the world so much that it serves as a reminder that if something isn't broken don't fix it.Share