The End of Feudalism

Custom played such a large role in governing feudal institutions that they were resistant to change. Feudalism could only be shaken by substantial changes to the external environment, and those changes finally came…

Why Were the Americas So Underdeveloped when Europeans Reached Them?

Mesopotamia at 1500 BC looks much like Mesoamerica at 1000 AD. The Eurasians had three thousand years to build upon their Mesopotamian foundations before the coming together of the New and Old Worlds. The Americans, by contrast, had only five hundred years…

The Steam Engine

The steam engine is generally considered to be the most revolutionary invention of the Industrial Revolution. It would power a new generation of industrial machinery; and it would give rise to two transportation technologies, railways and steamships, that would stitch the world together…

The Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was influenced by both the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment…

Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen in Britain in the Eighteenth Century?

The central feature of the Industrial Revolution was technological innovation on an unprecedented scale, so explaining the time and place of the innovation is tantamount to explaining the time and place of the Industrial Revolution. Why did this wave of innovation occur in Britain in the eighteenth century?

The Second Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) was characterized by a close connection between science and technology. Science was developing: chemistry acquired its atomic foundations, for example, and the scientific study of electricity began. The extension of scientific knowledge gave technicians more avenues to investigate…

How Modern Science Came to China

China was not exposed to Euclid’s geometry until the arrival of the Jesuits in the late sixteenth century. It was not exposed to Newtonian mechanics until 1849, more than 160 years after the publication of Principia

The Transformation of Japan after the Meiji Restoration

In the three or four decades that followed the Meiji Restoration, Japan utterly transformed itself. The transformation was wide-ranging, deliberate, determined, and profound. By the beginning of World War I, Japan could justly claim to be among the leading nations of the world…

Technological Progress and Economies of Scale

From the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, one of the keys to growth was the exploitation of technologies that displayed increasing returns to scale…