From the Editor’s Desk
1st August 2023
When we use technology today, it is often taken for granted its development over the years. By tracing the development of technology, we need to think about the definition of technology in the first place. Technology is not limited to computers – rather, the wheel is also a form of technology. Mathematics has an invaluable relationship to technology – it allows there to be a systematic way of reproducing technology and measuring its effectiveness.
1. Edison’s light bulb
Although Edison took credit for the invention of the light bulb, he played more of a conceptual role and firm principles for its success. His staff approached problem solving systematically, using Mathematics to conduct a cost analysis for the success of the lightbulb. Edison rightly predicted that electric lights would replace gas burners. To build a high-resistance lamp filament, Edison calculated the cost of the copper coils by using Ohm’s Law, as he realised that by increasing the resistance of the lamp filament, he raised the voltage in relationship to the current, making his light bulb more economically competitive than the gas burners.
2. Transitioning to industrial society
The first industrial revolution happened in England, which caused a shift from a feudal system to a disciplined, industrial capitalism. Discipline was enforced upon workers by the use of timesheets and clocks to regulate workers’ behaviour. Mathematics helped workers and factories divide the day into a certain number of hours, with designated activities according to time. The day was compressed into 10 hours, with bell ringing to signal a change in time.
3. Ergonomics – The Science of Work
As society became more industrial, Ergonomics (the science of work) was invented based on laws of Physics to help workers become more efficient. The Science of Work imagined the human body as a motor, and sought to get rid of fatigue and maximise the energy of human bodies. Although this may sound nebulous in our current climate, the Science of Work was an attempt to meld the natural world with the concepts of Physics.