invention of the wheel

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pages: 77 words: 18,414

How to Kick Ass on Wall Street by Andy Kessler


Andy Kessler, Bernie Madoff, buttonwood tree, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, family office, fixed income, hiring and firing, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, London Whale, margin call, NetJets, Nick Leeson,, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, time value of money, too big to fail, value at risk

Credit crises and panics happen. Capital gets misallocated. Markets aren’t all knowing. Banks make bad loans. All the time. It used to happen more often, but the Federal Reserve and the FDIC now smooth out these cycles, often pushing problems down the road until they blow up into a full blown panic. Let’s go back to basics. Economies grow via savings, taking the profits going back to the invention of the wheel (or maybe the sale of that Eden apple) and reinvesting it in more and more productive businesses. You can’t invent capital by printing it - it can only come via profits and productivity. Wealth shows up in lots of places, not only in that new capital, but also in assets needed to create those profits, land, steam engines, tractors and yes, even homes workers live in for a shorter commute.

pages: 261 words: 81,802

The Trouble With Billionaires by Linda McQuaig

battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, Build a better mousetrap, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, employer provided health coverage, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, laissez-faire capitalism, land tenure, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Vanguard fund, very high income, wealth creators, women in the workforce

One of the crucial ways that society assists individuals in their ability to generate wealth lies in the inheritance from previous generations. This inheritance from the past is so vast it is almost beyond calculation. It encompasses every aspect of what we know as a civilization and every bit of scientific and technological knowledge we make use of today, going all the way back to the beginning of human language and the invention of the wheel. Measured against this immense human cultural and technological inheritance, any additional marginal advance in today’s world – even the creation of a cable television sports network – inevitably pales in significance. The question then becomes this: who is the proper beneficiary of the wealth generated by innovations based on the massive inheritance from the past – the individual innovator who adapts some tiny aspect of this past inheritance to create a slightly new product, or society as a whole (that is, all of us)?

Certainly, Zuckerberg couldn’t have made that $12 billion all on his own, or even remotely on his own. He made it, as a mere university student, by taking advantage of the technological inheritance provided by all those who had developed the Internet and, before that, the personal computer and, before that, the mainframe computer and, before that, the punched-card tabulating machine and, before that…all the way back to the invention of the wheel. It is estimated that about 90 per cent of any wealth generated today is due to this ‘knowledge inheritance’ of the past. If this sounds unlikely, imagine whether Zuckerberg could have created the Facebook empire if he had, say, been a student thirty years ago in the pre-Internet age, if he hadn’t attended college in the early 2000s, when computer advances had reached a certain stage of sophistication.

Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies by Jared M. Diamond


affirmative action, Atahualpa, British Empire, California gold rush, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, invention of movable type, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, James Watt: steam engine, Maui Hawaii, QWERTY keyboard, the scientific method, trade route

The lack of a high-elevation plateau in Mesoamerica south of Guatemala, and Mesoamerica's extreme narrowness south of Mexico and especially in Panama, were at least as important as the latitudinal gradient in throttling crop and livestock exchanges between the highlands of Mexico and the Andes. Continental differences in axis orientation affected the diffusion not only of food production but also of other technologies and inventions. For example, around 3,000 B.C. the invention of the wheel in or near South- west Asia spread rapidly west and east across much of Eurasia within a few centuries, whereas the wheels invented independently in prehistoric Mexico never spread south to the Andes. Similarly, the principle of alpha- betic writing, developed in the western part of the Fertile Crescent by 1500 B.C., spread west to Carthage and east to the Indian subcontinent within about a thousand years, but the Mesoamerican writing systems that flour- ished in prehistoric times for at least 2,000 years never reached the Andes.

A clear example is the wheel, which is first attested around 3400 B.C. near the Black Sea, and then turns up within the next few centuries over much of Europe and Asia. All those early Old World wheels are of a peculiar design: a solid wooden circle constructed of three planks fastened together, rather than a rim with spokes. In contrast, the sole wheels of Native American societies (depicted on Mexican ceramic vessels) consisted of a single piece, suggesting a second independent invention of the wheel as one would expect from other evidence for the isolation of New World from Old World civilizations. No one thinks that that same peculiar Old World wheel design appeared repeatedly by chance at many separate sites of the Old World within a few centuries of each other, after 7 million years of wheelless human history. Instead, the utility of the wheel surely caused it to diffuse rapidly east and west over the Old World from its sole site of invention.

pages: 235 words: 64,858

Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex and How to Get It by Marty Klein


airport security, Albert Einstein, invention of the wheel, Silicon Valley

In addition, many people have so much anxiety about sexuality that they have trouble using accurate information to make decisions. Examples include contraception and sterilization, oral and anal sex, fantasy, and masturbation. Let’s look at some information that can help you create sexual experiences that provide pleasure, bring you closer to your partner, and fit with your values. Anatomy and Physiology When I was first being trained as a sex educator (sometime between the invention of the wheel and the invention of the Internet), I learned about the sexual parts of the body—the “erogenous zones.” You know, the genitalia, mouth, nipples, anus, and ears. Some liberals would also add the thighs, butt, and neck. But eventually I came to realize—this idea is so wrong. The whole idea of dividing the body into sexual and non-sexual zones discourages erotic experimentation, overemphasizes orgasm, and encourages Normality Anxiety.

pages: 339 words: 109,331

The Clash of the Cultures by John C. Bogle


asset allocation, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, mortgage debt, new economy, Occupy movement, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, profit motive, random walk, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, survivorship bias, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, William of Occam, zero-sum game

This fund’s portfolio is dominated by the large-cap stocks that constitute the S&P 500, but it also holds the stocks of mid-cap and small-cap companies. Obviously, investors have given their stamp of approval both to our index fund concept and its implementation. Investors have voted with their wallets, and they continue to do so. Surely Paul Samuelson’s highest accolade for the index fund came in his speech at the Boston Security Analysts Society on November 15, 2005: “I rank this Bogle invention along with the invention of the wheel, the alphabet, Gutenberg printing, and wine and cheese: a mutual fund that never made Bogle rich but elevated the long-term returns of the mutual-fund owners. Something new under the sun.” Those words from an intellectual giant about a mere mortal who has scraped by without a great intellect—but with great intellectual curiosity and relentless determination—are among the greatest rewards of my long career.

pages: 355 words: 92,571

Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender


activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, money market fund, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Veblen good, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

In both cases there was a high degree of innovation, including new financial instruments of questionable social utility. The economist J. K. Galbraith has rightly pointed out that every new financial instrument ‘is, without exception, a small variation on an established design, one that owes its distinctive character to the … brevity of financial memory’. The world of finance, he added, ‘hails the invention of the wheel over and over again, often in a slightly more unstable version’. Another feature highlighted by Galbraith is the prevalence of leverage – that is, a build-up of borrowing: ‘All financial innovation involves, in one form or another, the creation of debt secured in greater or lesser adequacy by real assets … All crises have involved debt that, in one fashion or another, has become dangerously out of scale in relation to the underlying means of payment.’70 In other words, bank profits in the 1920s and 2000s were going up, as we saw in Chapter Three, because banks were taking bigger risks.

pages: 340 words: 92,904

Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, car-free, City Beautiful movement, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, desegregation, Enrique Peñalosa, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, if you build it, they will come, Induced demand, intermodal, invention of the wheel, lake wobegon effect, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Masdar, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Nate Silver, oil shock, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, skinny streets, smart cities, smart grid, smart transportation, the built environment, the map is not the territory, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, Wall-E, white flight, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

Nonetheless, please accept my apologies for any confusion. a This is not the last time Robert Moses will appear in this story; see Chapter 2. CHAPTER 1 MOTORDOM ROADS ARE ONE OF THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF CIVILIZATION itself. The first roads date back more than ten thousand years, but the earliest ones were strictly for either two- or four-footed walking. The real history of manufactured roads begins with the invention of the wheel by some anonymous Sumerian engineer about seven thousand years ago. Since wheeled carts are a lot more useful on smooth roads than the alternative, stone-and-brick-paved roads followed elsewhere in ancient Mesopotamia and in India and Egypt. Roads paved with cut timber and logs are regularly unearthed in prehistoric England. The tree-ring patterns in the logs of such roads can be very precisely correlated with calendars, enabling scientists to demonstrate, for example, that the mile-and-a-quarter-long “Sweet Track” was built in Somerset in 3807 and/or 3806 BCE.

pages: 404 words: 134,430

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, false memory syndrome, Gary Taubes, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Bold Statements Do Not Make Claims True Something is probably pseudoscientific if enormous claims are made for its power and veracity but supportive evidence is scarce as hen's teeth. L. Ron Hubbard, for example, opens his Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, with this statement: "The creation of Dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and arch" (in Gardner 1952, p. 263). Sexual energy guru Wilhelm Reich called his theory of Orgonomy "a revolution in biology and psychology comparable to the Copernican Revolution" (in Gardner 1952, p. 259). I have a thick file of papers and letters from obscure authors filled with such outlandish claims (I call it the "Theories of Everything" file). Scientists sometimes make this mistake, too, as we saw at 1:00 P.M., on March 23, 1989, when Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann yield a press conference to announce to the world that they had made cold nuclear fusion work.

pages: 436 words: 140,256

The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond


agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, Atahualpa, Columbian Exchange, correlation coefficient, double helix, Drosophila, European colonialism, invention of gunpowder, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, out of africa, phenotype, Scientific racism, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

What the horsemen lacked in architecture, they made up for in military zeal, as attested by their lavish tombs (for men only!), filled with enormous numbers of daggers and other weapons, and sometimes even with wagons and horse skeletons. Thus, Russia's Dnieper River (see map on page 243) marked an abrupt cultural boundary:, to the east, the well-armed horsemen, to the west, the rich farming villages with their granaries. That proximity of wolves and sheep spelt T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Once the invention of the wheel completed the horsemens' economic package, their artifacts indicate a very rapid spread for thousands of miles eastwards through the steppes of central Asia (see map). From that movement, the ancestors of the Tocharians may have arisen. The steppe peoples' spread westwards is marked by the concentration of European farming villages nearest the steppes into huge defensive settlements, then the collapse of those societies, and the appearance of characteristic steppe graves in Europe as far west as Hungary.

pages: 424 words: 140,262

Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World by Christian Wolmar


banking crisis, Beeching cuts, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, invention of the wheel, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, railway mania, refrigerator car, side project, South China Sea, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, urban sprawl

The simplicity of this invention was the crucial factor that ensured the technology could be readily imitated and developed. The railways provided an organized form of power in the shape of a mobile and efficient source of energy unlike anything before thanks to its adaptability – as witnessed in the variety of size and gauge of the early railways and locomotives. Of course the much earlier invention of the wheel had made societies more mobile but only in a limited way, allowing relatively short journeys, and for the most part people’s horizons remained restricted to a few miles around their homes. The railways operated on a far larger scale. The other key innovation – a flanged wheel running on a metal track, together with the traction provided by steam-powered locomotives – allowed the carriage of loads that were ten or more times heavier than anything previously hauled by man or beast.

pages: 452 words: 150,785

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales From the World of Wall Street by John Brooks


banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business climate, cuban missile crisis, Ford paid five dollars a day, Gunnar Myrdal, invention of the wheel, large denomination, margin call, Marshall McLuhan, Plutocrats, plutocrats, short selling, special drawing rights, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, very high income

Largely as a result of xerography, the estimated number of copies (as opposed to duplicates) made annually in the United States sprang from some twenty million in the mid-fifties to nine and a half billion in 1964, and to fourteen billion in 1966—not to mention billions more in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. More than that, the attitude of educators toward printed textbooks and of business people toward written communication underwent a discernible change; avant-garde philosophers took to hailing xerography as a revolution comparable in importance to the invention of the wheel; and coin-operated copying machines began turning up in candy stores and beauty parlors. The mania—not as immediately disrupting as the tulip mania in seventeenth-century Holland but probably destined to be considerably farther-reaching—was in full swing. The company responsible for the great breakthrough and the one on whose machines the majority of these billions of copies were made was, of course, the Xerox Corporation, of Rochester, New York.

pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

While the world of Neuromancer was wonderful science fiction, actually entering the world that Gibson portrayed presents a puzzle. On one hand, the arrival of cyborgs poses the question of what it means to be human. By itself that isn’t a new challenge. While technology may be evolving increasingly rapidly today, humans have always been transformed by technology, as far back as the domestication of fire or the invention of the wheel (or its eventual application to luggage in the twentieth century). Since the beginning of the industrial era machines have displaced human labor. Now with the arrival of computing and computer networks, for the first time machines are displacing “intellectual” labor. The invention of the computer generated an earlier debate over the consequences of intelligent machines. The new wave of artificial intelligence technologies has now revived that debate with a vengeance.

pages: 478 words: 126,416

Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, John Meriwether, light touch regulation, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War

Robert Rubin, a deeper thinker than Greenspan, had emphasised the need for probabilistic thinking in his memoir of his time as Treasury secretary, In an Uncertain World.21 And yet the very title of Rubin’s book elides the critical distinction between risk – the ‘known unknowns’ which we can describe with the aid of probabilities – and the ‘unknown unknowns’ or ‘black swans’22 – events to which we cannot assign probabilities because we may not even know what the events in question are. You cannot judge the probability of the invention of the wheel because in visualising the possibility you have already invented it. In the 1920s John Maynard Keynes (whose fellowship dissertation at Cambridge concerned probability) and Frank Knight had stressed the pervasive nature of the radical uncertainty of unknown unknowns. But they effectively lost an intellectual battle with those – led by a Cambridge philosopher, Frank Ramsey, and another Chicago academic, L.J.

pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

It is sometimes hard to imagine that the heritage of those struggling to lead a semblance of normal life in today’s Iraq stretches back over seven thousand years, to the birth of some of the very first civilizations on earth. Archaeologists have dated the remains of the Ubaid culture in southern Iraq to the middle of the sixth millennium BCE; and the succeeding Uruk civilization, which saw the invention of the wheel, as well as such vital technical advances as the fusion of metals, the potter’s wheel, the seal, the brick mould and the temple plan, to around 4100 BCE. And it was in Uruk that an invention – possibly even more important than the wheel – was made. For it was here that writing first appeared. The rest, as they say, is history. The first powerful ancestor of today’s indigenous Arab people of Iraq was Sargon, Semite king of the Akkadians, who conquered the Sumerians in the twenty-fourth century BCE.

pages: 528 words: 146,459

Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan L. Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, Byte Shop, card file, cashless society, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, deskilling, don't be evil, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, garden city movement, Grace Hopper, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the wheel, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, light touch regulation, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pirate software, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, young professional

How could they use the mercury delay line to overcome the shortcomings of the ENIAC? Very early on, probably shortly after von Neumann’s arrival, the crucial moment occurred when the stored-program concept was born: that the computer’s storage device would be used to hold both the instructions of a program and the numbers on which it operated. Goldstine likened the stored-program concept to the invention of the wheel: it was simple—once one had thought of it. This simple idea would allow for rapid program setup by enabling a program to be read into the electronic memory from punched cards or paper tape in a few seconds; it would be possible to deliver instructions to the control circuits at electronic speeds; it would provide two orders of magnitude more number storage; and it would reduce the tube count by 80 percent.

Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets - Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor by John Kay


Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, California gold rush, complexity theory, computer age, constrained optimization, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, equity premium, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, failed state, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, George Gilder, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, haute couture, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telephone, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, late capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson,, popular electronics, price discrimination, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, second-price auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, urban decay, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, yield curve, yield management

The allocation of scarce resources between competing ends requires decisions about production, assign- { 84} John Kay ment, and exchange. The system must determine what is made-the issue of production. Who gets it-the issue of assignment. And exchange establishes the link between production and assignment. The shift by Cro-Magnons from production for own use to production for exchange was an institutional innovation to rank with technical innovations such as the manufacture of tools and the invention of the wheel. But only in today's rich states is most production for exchange. For most of history, and in much of the world even today, the main economic activity is the production of food for own use. And throughout that history, the allocation of scarce resources among competing ends was determined by custom, or by force. In a traditional society, decisions about what to produce, and the division of what was produced, were barely decisions at all.

pages: 651 words: 180,162

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Air France Flight 447, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, hygiene hypothesis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, informal economy, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, money market fund, moral hazard, mouse model, Myron Scholes, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra, Zipf's Law

I could not afford a porter, and even if I could, I would not have felt comfortable doing it. I have been going through the same terminal for three decades, with and without wheels, and the contrast was eerie. It struck me how lacking in imagination we are: we had been putting our suitcases on top of a cart with wheels, but nobody thought of putting tiny wheels directly under the suitcase. Can you imagine that it took close to six thousand years between the invention of the wheel (by, we assume, the Mesopotamians) and this brilliant implementation (by some luggage maker in a drab industrial suburb)? And billions of hours spent by travelers like myself schlepping luggage through corridors full of rude customs officers. Worse, this took place three decades or so after we put a man on the moon. And consider all this sophistication used in sending someone into space, and its totally negligible impact on my life, and compare it to this lactic acid in my arms, pain in my lower back, soreness in the palms of my hands, and sense of helplessness in front of a long corridor.

pages: 741 words: 208,654

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis


Doomsday Book, indoor plumbing, invention of the wheel, stem cell

It was an easy climb, but Kivrin felt tired before she had gone even a few steps, and her temple began to throb again. She hoped her time-lag symptoms wouldn’t get worse—she could already see that she was a long way from anywhere. Or maybe that was just an illusion. She still hadn’t “ascertained her exact temporal location,” and this lane, this wood, had nothing about them that said positively 1320. The only signs of civilization at all were those ruts, which meant she could be in any time after the invention of the wheel and before paved roads, and not even definitely then. There were still lanes exactly like this not five miles from Oxford, lovingly preserved by the National Trust for the Japanese and American tourists. She might not have gone anywhere at all, and on the other side of this hill she would find the M-l or Ms. Montoya’s dig, or an SDI installation. I would hate to ascertain my temporal location by being struck by a bicycle or an automobile, she thought, and stepped gingerly to the side of the road.

pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das


affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman,, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson,, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

High returns were underwritten by an extremely favorable economic environment, not, as bankers argued, innovation. As John Kenneth Galbraith, in A Short History of Financial Euphoria, identified: Financial operations do not lend themselves to innovation. What is recurrently so described and celebrated is, without exception, a small variation on an established design.... The world of finance hails the invention of the wheel over and over again, often in a slightly more unstable version.11 The Economist summarized the era: Over the past 35 years it has seemed as if everyone in finance has wanted to be someone else. Hedge funds and private equity wanted to be as cool as a Goldman Sachs wanted to be as smart as a hedge fund. The other investment banks wanted to be as profitable as Goldman Sachs. America’s retail banks wanted to be as cutting-edge as investment banks.

pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

Our brains, in contrast, keep a record of the shape of every face we know (and every letter, animal, tool, and so on), and the record is somehow matched with a retinal image even when the image is distorted in all the ways we have been examining. In Chapter 4 we will explore how the brain accomplishes this magnificent feat. Let’s take a look at another everyday miracle: getting a body from place to place. When we want a machine to move, we put it on wheels. The invention of the wheel is often held up as the proudest accomplishment of civilization. Many textbooks point out that no animal has evolved wheels and cite the fact as an example of how evolution is often incapable of finding the optimal solution to an engineering problem. But it is not a good example at all. Even if nature could have evolved a moose on wheels, it surely would have opted not to. Wheels are good only in a world with roads and rails.