Bad Ideas?: An Arresting History of Our Inventions

Bad Ideas?: An Arresting History of Our Inventions

Language: English

Pages: 398

ISBN: 0553819550

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


We are born with the instinct to create and invent. Indeed our ability to do so is what separates we humans from the rest of the animal world. The moment man first converted a stone to a useful tool set him on a relentless path toward greater control and power over his environment. But have our creative ideas always produced desirable results in line with their original good intention? How many ill-effects and dangers have they brought about along the way? And have they really served us well?

Bad Ideas? traces the fascinating history of our attempts at self-improvement but also questions their value. The dubious consequences of the development of weaponry, for example, is self-evident from the primitive but lethal sling to the devastating nuclear bomb. But what of apparently more innocuous inventions such as farming, writing or medicine? All were initiated for the greater good but have nonetheless produced unforeseen fallout that continues to this day. What are their undesirable side-effects, how did they emerge over the years and where will they take us in the future?
 
Written against a huge historical canvas, we join Robert Winston on a thrilling and inspiring journey from our earliest days to the present. We learn about the history of modern science, engineering, IT and much more, following the unexpected twists and turns of their progress. We meet the individuals who played a key role in their development, and share quirky anecdotes about their lives and brainwaves. Inspiring, unusual, and at times controversial, Bad Ideas? enables us by appreciating the past to look forward to the technological opportunities and ethical challenges of the future. In so doing it celebrates man's extraordinary capacity for achievement whilst warning us that his good intentions can sometimes end up as thoroughly bad ideas.

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attract voters in the polling booths. Surely it is time for politicians of all persuasions to agree that the health service is not the plaything of any particular party, and that NHS structure and policy should not be changed repeatedly at the whim of whoever happens to be in government or for reasons of political expediency. A very strong case can be made for taking the NHS out of the present system of government and having it managed independently by a body on which all political interests are

identity language and (i), (ii) sense of self (i), (ii) Illich, Ivan (i) immune system (i) Imperial College London (i) imperialism (i) in vitro fertilization (IVF) (i), (ii), (iii) India, pollution (i) industrial revolution (i), (ii), (iii) infertility treatment (i), (ii), (iii) innovation, simultaneous occurrences (i), (ii) insects, genetically modified crops and (i) Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) (i) insulin (i), (ii) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (i),

scientists began to synthesize other products, the end results were far more toxic. DDT, as well as being an excellent deterrent of the pests that feed on grain and wool, proved effective in preventing malaria and typhus among human populations. Between 1945 – when post-war populations in southern Europe were literally drenched with it to control body lice and fleas – and 1953, a further twenty-five synthesized products joined the ranks of the new pesticides. DDT, in particular, remained in the

hand, force bouts of sneezing and coughing, which then propel them outwards on a fine spray towards fresh victims. Humans have developed important responses to bacterial and viral infection. One of the most interesting is fever. The ability to produce the fever associated with infections may be the result of evolution. Perhaps it is an attempt to exterminate the culprits through heat, and expel them through sweat. Matthew Kluger of the University of Michigan pointed out that fever is a useful

was. But we do know that Gutenberg had spent some of his partners’ money on lead, various other metals and a winepress. Given the form and content of the invention for which Gutenberg later became famous, it seems likely the mysterious item was a prototype printing press. So the first mention of a printing press in European history comes hand in hand with disputes over property and money. And it is for this purpose – recording what was owned by whom, what was due by someone’s hand to someone

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