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Inventions that change the world Essay

American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin was particularly interested in electricity and set up a small laboratory in his house to investigate its properties. His interest soon switched from electricity to lightning after he noticed the similarities between the two. One stormy night, he conducted a life-threatening experiment to demonstrate that lightning is the result of an electric build up. He constructed a kite that carried a metal spike and flew it into the thunderstorm. The kite had a key attached near the bottom of the ribbon and Franklin noticed that it sparked as he brought his knuckles close to it. Franklin had shown that lightning was form of electricity and he went on to use this knowledge to design a lightning rod to protect buildings. LINNAEAN TAXONOMY

Linnaean taxonomy is a system of classification of living organism that is used throughout biological sciences. The most important feature of Linnaean Taxonomy is a system known as binomial nomenclature. The first name identifies the genus to which the organism belongs; the second name is its unique species. BIMETTALIC STRIP

A bimetallic strip is a simple device which converts thermal energy into mechanical motion. It is used as a thermally activated switch or heat indicator and works on the principle of differential expansion of heated dissimilar metals. The bimetallic strip is made up of two different metals which are bonded together to form a straight, flat strip or a concentric coil. When the strip is heated, one of the metals heats up and expands faster than the other, causing the strip to bend. This mechanical deflection is then harnessed in various ways to switch electrical circuits or move a dial to a give heat value indication. MARINE CHRONOMETER

A marine chronometer is a clock that is precise and accurate enough to be used as a portable time standard; it can therefore be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation. When first developed in the 18th century, it was a major technical achievement, as accurate knowledge of the time over a long sea voyage is necessary for navigation, lacking electronic or communications aids. The first true chronometer was the life work of one man, John Harrison, spanning 31 years of persistent experimentation and testing that revolutionized naval (and later aerial) navigation. SPINNING JENNY

The increased speed of weaving created a new problem because it now took three spinners to keep up with one weaver. This problem was resolved in 1764, when James Hargreaves invented a new machine that was capable of spinning eight threads of cotton yarn, instead of the spinning wheel’s one. The new machine was called the spinning jenny. All this time the processes of spinning and weaving were still being carried out at home. This was possible because both the flying shuttle and the spinning jenny were small enough to be used in the cottage. SURVEYOR’S PERAMBULATOR WHEEL

The origins of the surveyor’s wheel are connected to the origins of the odometer. While the latter is derived to measure distances travelled by a vehicle, the former is specialized to measure distances. Much of the material on the earliest stages in the development of the hodometer is adequately covered in odometer. In the 17th century, the surveyor’s wheel was re-introduced and used to measure distances. A single wheel is attached to a handle and the device can be pushed or pulled along by a person walking. Early devices were made of wood and may have an iron rim to provide strength. The wheels themselves would be made in the same manner as wagon wheels and often by the same makers. The measuring devices would be made by makers of scientific instruments and the device and handles would be attached to the wheel by them. The device to read the distance travelled would be mounted either near the hub of the wheel or at the top of the handle. STEAM ENGINE WITH SEPARATE CONDENSER

A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid. Steam engines are external combustion engines where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be used. The ideal thermodynamic cycle used to analyze this process is called the Rankine cycle. In the cycle, water is heated and transforms into steam within a boiler operating at a high pressure. When expanded through pistons or turbines, mechanical work is done. The reduced-pressure steam is then condensed and pumped back into the boiler. WATER FRAME

In 1769, a wig maker and pricier, Richard Arkwright, had observed that, even with these improvements, the hand loom weavers could not keep up with the demand for cloth. He therefore set out to design and produces a much larger spinning machine that would be able to cope with the increased demand. His design became known as the water frame. It was given this name because it needed energy from a watermill to power it. It was therefore too large for cottage work and, consequently, had to be placed in a large building known as a factory. This meant that, for the first time, a family involved in the production of woven cloth were now split up. The women of the family, whom, you will remember, were the traditional spinners, now, had to leave their cottages and work in a large building where the water frames had been installed.

Since these factories used water as their power source, they tended to be built in areas where a good supply of fast flowing water was available. These early water powered factories, because they looked like large watermills, became known as mills. They were mainly concentrated in the mountainous areas of Britain where water was plentiful. For the first time men and women were separated in their work. The man stayed at home to produce the weaving and the women left home each day to work in the factory, producing the yarn for their men folk to weave into cloth. VENETIAN BLIND

Venetian blind is a type of window covering. There are many different kinds of window blinds which use a variety of control systems. A typical window blind is made up of several long horizontal or vertical slats of various types of fabric, wood, plastic or metal which are held together by cords that run through the blind slats. Window blinds can be adjusted by rotating them from an open position to a closed position with either a manual or remote control which allows the slats to overlap and block out most of the light. There are also several types of window blinds that use a single piece of material instead of slats. A window blind is also known as a window shade. CATERPILLAR TRACKS

Continuous track, also called tank tread or caterpillar track, is a system of vehicle propulsion in which a continuous band of treads is driven by two or more wheels. This band is typically made of modular steel plates in the case of military vehicles, or rubber reinforced with steel wires in the case of lighter agricultural or construction vehicles. The large surface area of the tracks distributes the weight of the vehicle better than steel or rubber tyres on an equivalent vehicle, enabling a continuous tracked vehicle to traverse soft ground with less likelihood of becoming stuck due to sinking. The prominent treads of the metal plates are both hard-wearing and damage resistant, especially in comparison to rubber tyres. The aggressive treads of the tracks provide good traction in soft surfaces but can damage paved surfaces. Special tracks that incorporate rubber pads can be installed for use on paved surfaces to prevent the damage that can be caused by all-metal tracks. Continuous tracks can be traced back as far as 1770 and today are commonly used on a variety of vehicle including bulldozers, excavators, tanks, and tractors, but can be found on any vehicle used in an application that can benefit from the added traction, low ground pressure and durability inherent in continuous track propulsion systems. SODA WATER

Carbonated water (soda water) is water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved. This process, known as carbonation, is a process that causes the water to become effervescent. For people who enjoy drinking soft drinks, carbonated water can provide a calorie- and sugar-free substitute. The vast majority of carbonated water is sold in ready to drink bottles like mineral water or carbonated beverages such as soft drinks, but it is easy to prepare at home with soda makers. S-TRAP FOR TOILET

In plumbing, a trap is a U-, S-, or J-shaped pipe located below or within a plumbing fixture. An S-shaped trap is also known as the S-bend invented by Alexander Cummings in 1775 but became known as the U-bend following the introduction of the U-shaped trap by Thomas Crapper in 1880. The new U-bend could not jam, so, unlike the S-bend, it did not need an overflow. The bend is used to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings. In refinery applications, it also prevents hydrocarbons and other dangerous gases from escaping outside through drains. The most common of these traps in houses is referred to as a P-trap. It is the addition of a 90 degree fitting on the outlet side of a U-bend, thereby creating a P-like shape. It is also referred to as a sink trap because it is installed under most house sinks.

Because of its shape, the trap retains a small amount of water after the fixture’s use. This water in the trap creates a seal that prevents sewer gas from passing from the drain pipes back into the occupied space of the building. Essentially all plumbing fixtures including sinks, bathtubs, and toilets must be equipped with either an internal or external trap. Because it is a localized low-point in the plumbing, sink traps also tend to capture heavy objects (such as jewellery) that are inadvertently dropped into the sink. Traps also tend to collect hair, sand, and other debris and limit the ultimate size of objects that will pass on into the rest of the plumbing, thereby catching over-sized objects. For all of these reasons, most traps can either be disassembled for cleaning or they provide some sort of cleanout feature. SUBMERSIBLE CRAFT

Submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is usually supported by a surface vessel, platform, shore team or sometimes a larger submarine. In common usage by the general public, however, the word submarine may be used to describe a craft that is by the technical definition actually a submersible. There are many types of submersibles, including both manned and unmanned craft, otherwise known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs. Submersibles have many uses worldwide, such
as oceanography, underwater archaeology, ocean exploration, adventure, equipment maintenance/recovery or underwater videographer. BORING MACHINE

A tunnel boring machine (TBM) also known as a “mole”, is a machine used to excavate tunnels with a circular cross section through a variety of soil and rock strata. They can bore through anything from hard rock to sand. Tunnel diameters can range from a metre (done with micro-TBMs) to 19.25 m to date. Tunnels of less than a metre or so in diameter are typically done using trenchless construction methods or horizontal directional drilling rather than TBMs. Tunnel boring machines are used as an alternative to drilling and blasting (D&B) methods in rock and conventional “hand mining” in soil. TBMs have the advantages of limiting the disturbance to the surrounding ground and producing a smooth tunnel wall. This significantly reduces the cost of lining the tunnel, and makes them suitable to use in heavily urbanized areas. The major disadvantage is the upfront cost. TBMs are expensive to construct, and can be difficult to transport. However, as modern tunnels become longer, the cost of tunnel boring machines versus drill and blast is actually less—this is because tunnelling with TBMs is much more efficient and results in a shorter project. STEAMBOAT

A steamboat is a boat in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels. Steamboats sometimes use the prefix designation SS, S.S. or S/S (for ‘Screw Steamer’) or PS (for ‘Paddle Steamer’), however these designations are most often used for Steamships. The term steamboat is used to refer to smaller, insular, steam-powered boats working on lakes and rivers, particularly riverboats. As using steam became more reliable, steam power became applied to larger, ocean-going vessels.

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