The Spinning Wheels of Technology

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Can you imagine life without wheels? Take a moment and think how many things are made using them, and how drastic life would be in their absence. In many machines with moving parts you will find that it contains wheels. The very first invented wheel is still a mystery to us; we do not know who made it. What we do know is that they were being used before 3500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.

The oldest known wheel was discovered in the Ljubljana marshes of Slovenia, in central Europe in 2002, by archeologists and was dated to be 5200 years old. The wheel was well preserved, even though it was made of wood, because it was in muddy marsh waters which sealed it away from living organisms, such as insects, fungi, and bacteria, that would otherwise have eaten it or caused it to rot.

Wheels were used for carts, and to make pottery, in ancient times. Nowadays, you might see giant Ferris wheels that allows people spectacular views of the city such as the London Eye, which is 135 m high, and takes around 30 minutes to complete a full turn.

How about gear wheels? The ones that has teeth around its edges to move the next wheel without it slipping; without them, we would have not been able to develop mechanical clocks.

Wheels are essential in the car industry, how else would cars move? The first cars made were extremely expensive and only the super duper rich could afford them because they were tailor made. The person who is hailed to have created the first affordable cars for the masses was Henry Ford. He set up factories and created the assembly line in order to make one type of car quickly. The wheels used in those cars were made of wood and covered with rubber, a major improvement on the ancient wheel which was just plain wood, imagine a cart ride on a rocky road with such wheels, it would have been mighty uncomfortable, unlike the comfort of our cars nowadays.

To have an idea about how far wheels have come watch this short video:

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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