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The Story of Industrial Civilization: Transportation

October 17, 2021 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm PDT

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Progress writer Jason Crawford is writing a book about the modern world and how it was invented. In a series of salons, we will explore this content together, chapter by chapter, and get an inside look at the author’s creative process.

Behind the world of our daily lives, there is a hidden world, one that keeps our world running. It is an industrial world, one of factories, engines, chemicals, and infrastructure, that most people rarely notice or appreciate. But every piece of it is a solution to a problem: a way to satisfy human needs in the face of nature’s constraints.

Session 6, Transportation:

“It’s a small world,” they say—but it didn’t feel small to those who lived before the 1800s. Not even the greatest king could travel faster than a galloping horse or a sailing ship, and most people rarely traveled far from their home village. Commerce, too, was local, with rare commodities like spices trading as expensive luxuries. Today, we can get anywhere on the planet in twenty-four hours, and markets everywhere are connected in a network of global trade. How did we shrink the world? In this salon, we’ll look at the developments in vehicle technology, in infrastructure, and in maps and navigation that made this transformation happen. Why was longitude so much harder to determine than latitude, and how was that problem solved? How was the transcontinental railroad built, across 2,000 miles of wilderness, including the Sierra Nevada Mountains? Why did the Wright Brothers succeed where their much better-funded competitor failed? Join us and find out!

Crawford will open the salon by talking about his research and writing on the topic so far, followed by discussion and Q&A.



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October 17, 2021
10:00 am - 1:00 pm PDT
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