4 Little Discoveries That Changed Entire Nations

Out of all the inventions and discoveries of humans, I have selected four little things that massively impacted the world we now live in both positively and negatively. Teacup changed the course of China, cotton drained the Aral Sea. Read more fascinating little things that changed the course of an entire nation!

1. Teacup and China

Image by geri-jean


In ancient China, the invention of the tea cup has impacted their nation’s advance in terms of technology and medicine by a couple of decades when compared to other countries.  What’s the problem with teacup and ancient China’s advancement? Since the teacup was invented rather too early, the Chinese found no need to further their research on glass, which made ocular devices and laboratory equipment impossible to be invented.

Equipment and devices such as mirrors, flasks, microscopes, reading glasses, telescopes, and others did not exist in China between the 14th century right up to the early 19th century.

To clear doubts, there is actually glass in ancient China as early as the 4th century. But evidence suggests that glasses were rare at that time.

It is only as recent as the end of the 20th century that China advanced dramatically to the top. There is a stereotype about goods made in China having low quality, but that is rapidly changing now.

Here’s a funny, but informative video clip from QI.

2. Glass and Advance in Medicine and Technology

Image from Wikipedia


The Assyrians, ancient Egyptians, and ancient Romans all had glass technology, but the idea of using glass as lense did not occur until the Middle Ages. Prior to its use as an instrument, glasses were mainly used as ornaments.

So, how did glass changed the course of the world?

In terms of Medicine, glass played a vital role in handling chemicals that would otherwise corrode other containers. Flasks, beakers, vials, and many other laboratory equipment were made possible because of glass.

Glass also played a great role in the development of new technologies. The electronics you use now have big to little components that function because of glass. Hundreds of years ago glasses were used to contain fire in lamps, and today we use glass for our lighting.

The use of glass for magnifying dates back as early as 700 BC. Earliest glasses were made from naturally occurring glasses in nature, which mostly come from polished crystals.

In the Middle Ages, the rise of intellectuals and revolutionaries greatly benefited from the use of ocular devices, which helped them read more past their weakened eyes due to aging.

Read more on Wikipedia 


3. Compass and Exploration

Image from Wikipedia


Compass is one of the greatest thing ever invented in the history of navigation and exploration. Without it many adventurers and sailors would have lost their way. It is also because of the compass that people managed to plot maps of the world and of the heavens.

The Age of Discovery opened a new world for people. The use of compass greatly helped in the first contact of Europeans to Asians and native Americans. This is the age where the conquistadors lived.

The discovery of new lands enabled sea trading to be done safely, without getting lost in the vast expanse of the oceans. New trade routes opened, which flourished many countries.

Throughout the ages, compasses were also used for non-navigation purposes. Such as Astronomy (which also contributed to sea travel), orientation of buildings, and mining. The Chinese used compass for Feng Shui.

Read more on Wikipedia


4. Cotton and the Aral Sea

Image from Wikipedia


Because of cotton, the Aral Sea almost dried up. Although there is now an ongoing effort to replenish the once great body of water, things are looking rather bleak.

Before going further, let’s clear one thing: Aral Sea is not a sea, but a lake. It was once one of the Four Great Lakes of the world, now diminished to nothing.

What is cotton’s part on this? It all falls down to irrigation to produce more cotton, which is called “white gold” at the time. Business was booming in the cotton industry, and to cut the story short, the Aral Sea eventually dried up. Perhaps the saddest part here is that the authorities know that the Aral Sea will dry up soon, but never made an effort to save it.

The drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the biggest error made by man against nature. Fishing industry in the surrounding area died and brought unemployment and problems with the economy. The lack of fresh water also contributed to several health problems.

 Read more on Wikipedia


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