Ropes and knots are among the most ancient and useful technologies ever developed by man, predating the wheel, the axe and probably also the use of fire. Today, they are fast on their way to become an obsolete technology.
The sheer number and diversity of knots that was once in use would be bewildering to the modern city-dweller. About 4,000 different knots are described, ranging from the very simple to the extremely complex.
Not so long ago, each profession or trade had adopted the knots best suited to its requirements, and knotting was part of their daily lives. There are some good knotting reference books available online, and all of them are older than most of us.
From the earliest civilisations right up to the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans used sheer muscle power, organisation skills and ingenious mechanics to lift weights that would be impossible to handle by most power cranes in operation today.
How to downsize a transport network: the Chinese wheelbarrow For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history. This is especially true in the East, where it became a universal means of transportation for both passengers and goods, even over long distances.
Firewood in the Fuel Tank: Wood Gas Vehicles Wood gas cars are a not-so-elegant but surprisingly efficient and ecological alternative to their petrol (gasoline) cousins, whilst their range is comparable to that of electric cars.
How to make everything ourselves: open modular hardware Consumer products based on an open modular system can foster rapid innovation, without the drawback of wasting energy and materials. The parts of an obsolete generation of products can be used to design the next generation, or something completely different.
Power from the Tap
Power from the Tap: Water Motors Just before the arrival of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were widely used in Europe and America. These miniature water turbines were connected to the tap and could power any machine that is now driven by electricity.