When cars were invented, they certainly didn’t look anything like they do today. One of the very first ones that we know about was nothing more than a wagon with a steam engine mounted on it. This doesn’t surprise me since it was built in the 1700s. You have to wonder if any self-propelled vehicle was built before this. With all the experience humans had with using things like sails, could there have ever been land vehicles powered by them?
We know for a fact that at least one was built and used on the trail west in the U.S., but that was in the 1800s. Unfortunately it didn’t work out too well at the time. It was actually able to cover a couple of hundred miles, but it was so hard to control that it turned over a few times and eventually was wrecked before the trip was completed. It was said that the vehicle was fast when it caught a breeze but the steering and brakes were insufficient.
I personally find it hard to imagine that such ancient races such as the Egyptians or Greeks didn’t try to power wagons with sails. Taking this a step further, I would almost be willing to bet that they did. After all, sails were quite common, someone must have looked at them powering a ship and said to himself, I bet I could use this to power a land vehicle. Maybe they did and decided that it was too fast in the wind and didn’t move in the calm, and because of this was impractical.
Getting back to the ancient Greeks, you never know what you might find. I mean look at what we have found so far, steam cannons, a clock gear computer, machines that ran on springs, steam organs, and various devices that open and closed doors, regulate temple light and imitated animals. Maybe some day an ancient steam car will be found. As I have said before, the problem with the inventions of the Greeks was the fact that no one seemed to have followed up on them. Why was this? Were the ancient Greeks so far ahead in technology that other people were scared of their inventions and maybe thought that they were the work of the devil or demons? Nah, I just think that the inventions were not well known. After all if you have one inventor working in isolation and he invens something then he dies, most people would have never heard of it in those days. Communications were not what they are today. As a matter of fact, communications today would be seen as a miracle in times past.
It always amazed me that the human race actually back tracked after the Romans. It just shows that not enough people acquired the Roman taste for building and invention. While Rome built an empire, the rest of the world was more interested in lesser things and was considerably more tribal. This may have been because people didn’t get around much. Indeed, the average person never wandered more than about 50 miles from where he or she lived and that 50 miles was considered quite a trip. It was different for the Romans. Many of their soldiers were able to visit all sorts of foreign lands and each place they went to they learned something from. What they were really doing besides conquering countries was acquiring technology. They learned about aqueducts from one country and building methods from another. They even learned how to make their military one of the most efficient in the world. The Romans were the greatest learners the world had ever seen.
In some ways, the traits of the Romans seem to have rubbed off on us modern humans. We all seem to be learning today. We all use the inventions of others and in a lot of cases we build upon them. The world has become a much better place because of what we do. There is a dark side to this however. We are constantly improving the means of our own destruction. We build better and more destructive weapons every day. It seems that we have learned nothing in this area. So here we are building a better world and also devising the means to destroy it all. Maybe we haven’t learned so much after all!
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