Technology in 1809
The year 1809 falls in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, a time when the technological advancements of the day were concentrated on the improvements of factories and growth of industries. This period is characterized in history books by the first lamps and lights, steam-powered machines, and the use of coal gas.
1809, the year in which much of the play Arcadia takes place, had significant technological advancements of its own. The most notable of these were:
- Humphry Davy uses a high-powered battery to induce a light between two strips of charcoal, creating the first arc light.
- The first Western suspension bridge capable of carrying vehicles is built across the Merrimack River, Maryland (USA).
- Joseph Bramah develops and patents a machine that cuts a goose quill into a dozen parts that can be slipped into a holder for a pen - a device that is successfully marketed and causes a pen with a point and a holder to become common.
- Samuel Soemmering (Germany), develops a multiwire telegraph.
- Nicolas Appert (France) wins Napoleon's 12,000 franc award for inventing a method for preserving food with his invention of canning and sterilizing food in glass jars.
- George Cayley states the essential principles required for any flying machine that weighs more than the air it displaces.
These advancements are only a few of the "headliners" of 1809, and are among many others that contributed to the Industrial Revolution. Identifying these gives an approximate picture of the level of advancement the world was at when the play takes place.
Also mentioned in a few significant scenes in Arcadia is the steam engine. This machine had been in the process of being developed since 1629, when Giovanni Branca suggested using steam to propel a turbine. He was followed by others, and in the 18th century Thomas Newcomen developed an actual steam engine. By 1809, the steam engine would not have been a marvel, although finding one in a residence would have been slightly more uncommon.
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