Textiles: Humanity’s early tech boom

How fabric helped build modern civilization.

  • Virginia Postrel, author of "The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World," describes how the pursuit of textiles has led to a vast variety of innovations throughout history. Notably, the launch of the Industrial Revolution started with the machines that mechanized the spinning of thread.
  • The term luddite, which has now come to mean "people who have [an] ideological opposition to technology," started with textiles. The original Luddites of the 19th century were weavers who rioted when they began losing their jobs to power looms.
  • Postrel states that human beings throughout the world and across history independently discovered different processes for creating cloth. She goes on to say that "weaving is something that is deeply mathematical… It seems to be this kind of human activity that's thinking in ones and zeros that's anticipating our modern computer age."
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Sorry, the EmDrive doesn’t work

The EmDrive turns out to be the "um..." drive after all, as a new study dubs any previous encouraging EmDrive results "false positives."

Credit: AndSus/zolotons/Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • The proposed EmDrive captured the public's imagination with the promise of super-fast space travel that broke the laws of physics.
  • Some researchers have detected thrusts from the EmDrive that seemed to prove its validity as a technology.
  • A new, authoritative study says, no, those results were just "false positives."
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U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
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A brand-new blue may be the most eye-popping blue yet

Meet a spectacular new blue—the first inorganic new blue in some time.

Credit: Oregon State University
  • Combine yttrium, indium, and manganese, then heat and serve.
  • The new blue was synthesized by chemists at Oregon State University.
  • YInMn Blue is the latest character in the weird history of the color blue.
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    Scientists use chaos to build the optimal laser beam

    Researchers find a way to distort laser light to survive a trip through disordered obstacles.

    Credit: TU Wien
    • Lasers are great for measuring—if they can get a clear view of their target.
    • In biomedical applications, there's often disordered stuff in the way of objects needing measurement.
    • A new technique leverages that disorder to formulate a custom-made, optimal laser light beam.
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