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2020.07.03 为什么全球危机是发明之母

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发表于 2022-10-1 16:44:01 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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Why global crises are the mother of invention
In 1815 a volcanic eruption wreaked havoc around the world. But it led to the birth of the bicycle

Jul 3rd 2020

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By Tom Standage

The eruption in April 1815 of Mount Tambora, a volcano in what is now Indonesia, was one of the largest in recorded history. A vast plume of dust and ash spread around the world, blocking out the sun and reducing global temperatures. In China the cold weather killed trees, crops and water buffalo. In North America a “dry fog” reddened the sun and there was summer snowfall in New York. Riots and looting broke out in Europe as harvests failed. Food prices soared and tens of thousands of people died from famine and disease. Horses starved or were slaughtered, as the high price of oats forced people to choose whether to feed their animals or themselves.

This last predicament prompted Karl von Drais, a German inventor, to devise a personal-transport machine to replace the horse: a two-wheeled wooden contraption which he called the Laufmaschine (literally, “running machine”). Sitting on a saddle, Drais propelled it by planting his feet on the ground and pushing every few metres, while steering it using a tiller. A demonstration ride, in which he travelled 40 miles in four hours, showed that it was as fast as a trotting horse, and could be powered by its rider without much effort. The tricky part was keeping it balanced while gliding along, which took some practice.


Drais’s invention didn’t replace the horse: the weather returned to normal, leading to a bumper harvest in 1817. Even so, enthusiasts continued to improve on his design. The crucial addition of pedals occurred in France in the 1860s. Other refinements included better brakes, a steel frame, lightweight metal wheels and a chain to drive them. By the late 1880s these elements had been combined into a recognisably modern design: the bicycle.

An invention prompted by the challenges of a long-forgotten global crisis thus ended up spreading around the world and becoming part of everyday life. What innovations might the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 spawn? The pandemic will surely inspire new approaches to online education, say, or package delivery by drone – and, no doubt, some less obvious ideas. Who would have guessed, after all, that a volcano would give rise to the bicycle?■

image: akg images



为什么全球危机是发明之母
1815年,一场火山喷发在全世界造成了巨大的破坏。但它导致了自行车的诞生。

2020年7月3日


作者:Tom Standage

1815年4月,位于现今印度尼西亚的坦博拉火山爆发,是有史以来最大的一次。一股巨大的灰尘和火山灰扩散到世界各地,阻挡了太阳,降低了全球温度。在中国,寒冷的天气使树木、农作物和水牛死亡。在北美洲,"干雾 "使太阳变红,纽约出现了夏季降雪。由于收成不佳,欧洲爆发了骚乱和抢劫。食品价格飙升,数以万计的人死于饥荒和疾病。马匹饿死或被宰杀,因为燕麦的高价迫使人们选择是喂养动物还是喂养自己。

这最后的困境促使德国发明家卡尔-冯-德莱斯设计出一种个人运输机器来取代马:一种两轮的木制装置,他称之为Laufmaschine(字面意思是 "跑步机")。Drais坐在马鞍上,通过将脚踩在地上,每隔几米就推一下,同时用一个舵手来操纵它,从而推动它。他在四小时内走了40英里的示范骑行,表明它和小跑的马一样快,而且骑手可以不费吹灰之力就能驱动它。棘手的部分是在滑行时保持平衡,这需要一些练习。


Drais的发明并没有取代马:天气恢复了正常,导致了1817年的大丰收。即便如此,爱好者们仍在继续改进他的设计。19世纪60年代,在法国增加了关键的踏板。其他改进包括更好的刹车、钢架、轻质金属车轮和驱动它们的链条。到19世纪80年代末,这些元素已被组合成一个可识别的现代设计:自行车。

一项由早已被遗忘的全球危机的挑战所引发的发明最终在世界各地传播并成为日常生活的一部分。2020年的冠状病毒爆发可能会催生哪些创新?这场大流行肯定会激发在线教育的新方法,例如,或用无人机运送包裹--毫无疑问,还有一些不太明显的想法。毕竟,谁会想到一座火山会催生出自行车呢?

图片:AKG图片
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