The Birth and Rebirth of Simple Machines

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Human beings are notable for their capacity to exceed expectations. Throughout history, people have developed a lot of equipment to make working easier. Before that, they used to do everything manually. It took a lot of effort and willpower to finish a menial task.

Work is defined as force acting on an object in the direction of movement. A machine makes work easier by transporting force from one place to another. It allows change of direction for a force. It also increases the size, speed or distance of the said force.

The Origin of the Six Simple Machines

The earliest known writings about simple machines date from the third century B.C.E., provided by Archimedes. He’s the first to recognise mathematical principles of the lever. In ancient Egypt, it’s the common equipment. Constructors used it to lift obelisks.

Poland first used the wheel and axle around 3500-3000 BC. Slovenia discovered windlass, the oldest device known. It lifts weights with the use of a pulley.

Mesopotamians first operated a pulley in 1500 B.C. But, Archimedes created the first compound pulley.

It is unclear where wedge originally came from. Based on historical artefacts, Greeks may have used it on sculptures and arrowheads.

Greeks first used a screw in a screw press. Archimedes had the credit for its invention, but there were signs of it starting in Ancient Egypt instead. They used it in clocks and to move things in the 15th century.

In the prehistoric times, they already used inclined planes. It wasn’t perceived as a machine then, since it didn’t have a mechanical aspect. The rocks in the Stonehenge were moved using it.

The Reincarnation of the Six Simple Machines

In the modern world, simple machines are in everyday objects. The lever is in crowbars, bottle openers and scissors. It is also on playground seesaws. The wheel and axle work as gears in elevators and cars. The pulley is on flagpoles and blinds. The inclined plane is used as a playground slide and in ramps. The wedge is in nails, knives and axes. The screw holds or moves things together.

Human beings incorporate simple machines into heavy machineries. Cranes, tractors and loading equipment are a few examples. It’s the combination of most of the simple machines into one.

Centuries after the discovery of simple machines, humans  keep on creating complex ones to accommodate a developing world.


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