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the Romans knew the concept of "nothing"; it just didn't have a char to denote it.
They did not apply the concept "zero" to its numerical system, hence the lack of symbol; so, they could not handle too big or too little numbers and operate with it. It is impossible to develop chemical novelties, radio antenae, iron ships, major metal structcures without strong math.
An math-less industrial revolution would have been anchored in the steam engine and the alchemy, and would not have headed to place a man alive on the moon.
"The Void" is an indian concept. In fact the have ancient texts about it.
Zero was invented by the indians, brought to Europe by the moors via Spain (Al-Andalus)promoted by Fibonacci and widely used in Europe in the 16th century. Shortly after some mathematicians started their work and made technology possible.
Having concepts is not necessarily the same as having written symbols. In our culture, we are able to handle different degrees of infinity without each having a distinct symbol. In the computer and database world, we are to varying degrees able to handle variants of zero/empty/unknown/null/void/...
I was surprised when I many years ago learned that there was (maybe still is) a 4-value standard code for sex, from long before the Pride age, each represented by a single digit, none of the alternatives being zero: Male, female, irrelevant and undecided. It was used e.g. by railroad transporters' reservation system: For an ordinary coach with seats, the sex was irrelevant. For a sleeper reservation not yet sold, the sex was undecided. In the old days, with three bunks per sleeper compartment, you could buy a single bunk, and the two others were marked in the database as male or female, according to your sex. Railroad companies managed to handle it, even if there were no specific symbol to represent the four sex alternatives.
I am 100% convinced that the Romans had a concept of "I owe you nothing!" or "We have reached the destination - there there is no remaining travel", even if they did not have a mathematical symbol for it. We don't have a symbol for an unspecified value, unless we introduce an indirection concept, a pointer to a value and give that pointer a void/null value. It doesn't exist in our number system; yet we are able to cope with it.
And yes, I will defend that position until you come with something convincing.
Well that's your prerogative.
We live in a free will realm, that is to say: A responsibility realm, is the same thing.
This basically means you can act, speak or think the way you decide, and stick whith the consequences, both pleasant and unpleasant; sooner, later or simultaneously, if out withdraw the factor "time" from the equation. ( equating it to NULL )
Too busy waging war to have much time for "pure" R&D. Mass "publishing" (Gutenberg) set the ball rolling. Information sharing. Today, it's called "the internet". Leveling the playing field (if you choose to use it).
It was only in wine that he laid down no limit for himself, but he did not allow himself to be confused by it.
― Confucian Analects: Rules of Confucius about his food
Every "Technology" has a predecessor technology. You can't have a toilet seat(N/A until 18th century) without a plumbing, running water and a sewage - read water pumping stations. You cant have a radio without basic understanding of electricity. You can't have electricity without advanced metallurgy. You cant have advanced metallurgy without understanding of chemistry. You can't build structures and super structures without understanding physics "Strength of materials". And pretty much list goes on.
Lots of people therefore conclude that no technology has been more advanced than the current one. That does not always hold true. One branch of technology, one society, may have developed to a quite advanced stage. Then some other society starts branching out, from a much earlier predecessor, a different kind of technology, which develops slowly while the first society is destroyed by war, epidemics or whatever. The second one may be the most advanced at the moment, but not the highest ever.
And there is the question of metrics. While we think microelectronics is the greatest thing since sliced bread, other cultures may ask: What do you want that for? What's the real purpose of this tile with colors on one side changing all the time? What is the value of that? Why do you all feel that you are completely lost without it in your pocket? We have developed along quite different lines...
You can't have a toilet seat(N/A until 18th century) without a plumbing, running water and a sewage
The Romans had a quite sophisticated system of water delivery and sewage removal in Rome. One of the duties of the Praetorae Urbani (plural?) was to ensure that the adjutages of the pipes were not too large, so that private dwellings would not take more than their fair share of water.
Note that these were gravity fed; no pumps in the modern sense existed.
You cant have advanced metallurgy without understanding of chemistry
The Romans (and the Japanese, for that matter) managed to produce very good swords by trial and error. While the Romans did not know why the ore from certain mines made good steel, they certainly knew how to use it.
Europeans (and other cultures as well, but I'm less familiar with them) were using impressive technology long before the modern Solid-State Physics was known. Just look at some of the Roman aqueducts (still standing after more than 2,000 years), the medieval cathedral churches (tall walls, glass windows, support with flying buttresses, etc.), sailing ships, and many other examples.
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
-- 6079 Smith W.
I am a hobbyist historian, and if there was something very different between the Roman Empire and the 18-19th century and that would have been the rise of the middle class. There was no such paradigm during the Roman Empire and it is commerce that drives the development of technology.
It would also explain the excellent examples of technological practice during the Roman empire but in limited examples. The technology existed but was not readily available unless you could pay for it. Whereas those two elements were resolved ~1800 years later where more people had the resources to leverage tech and subsequently the remarkable change.
This is also highly evident today with the low-cost proliferation of tech, and the availability of information. Imagine COVID hat hit during the 1990's? Video conferencing was 'available', but for the rich. No one could really work from home, and that would only be possible if you could afford the cost of a PC and the 14400 dial-up modem - so inefficient and limited.
Hmm, Actually, the first couple of passes of the plague had a big effect in stirring the social structure, BUT.
The printing press: Gutenberg's about 1440 ( much slower printing before that ) by 1500 thee were presses "all over".
Paper: possibly spread to the Islamic world from China ~750, hit Europe 13th century. ( Not as "good" as parchment but much cheaper. )
Compass, probably late 12th century in Europe. ( Small effect I think. )
Machine tools: this "is" the industrial revolution. Lathes had been around for a long time, a "near modern" lathe, metal bed, cross slide, gear head - all the parts you need to start making screws in production, was mid 18th century, but "the pieces to make the pieces" were developed over centuries.
Cast iron, long history in China, not used in Europe until 15th century.
Windmills: came into use in Europe in the 11th and 12th century.
Not really important ( I think ) as waterwheels for pumping water and milling grain are pre-Roman.
So, there was much that slowly developed from 600AD, some in Europe, most in the east ( China, India, the Islamic world ( for lack of a better phrase )) that enabled the later developments.
So, some foundation, better communication ( not lots faster, but broader ), and a political environment of semi-constant conflict / competition between technological equals.
We've gotten a lot from NASA's research. They got a lot from the navy's.
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