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It cannot be overemphasized that System A had no analogous precursor, and thus that – unlike virtually all succeeding scientific theories – its invention was a radical departure from anything which preceded it. Consequently, we can say almost nothing with confidence about its motivation, which cannot have been directed at the shortcomings of a (non-existent) prevailing theory, nor seemingly at any urgent practical need, since we have still no evidence of how it was employed. Indeed, how little we know of the circumstances of its origin is reflected in the fact that we do not even know for certain its author’s name.
The crucial step – apart from conceiving the desirability and imagining the feasibility of constructing a comprehensive mathematical model of this complex set of variable phenomena – was the separation and successful modeling of the effects of lunar and solar anomaly on the intervals between syzygies. The crux of this development was the initial construction of a model depicting the variations due to lunar anomaly of the intervals between syzygies.
One of the fundamental tools of Babylonian astronomy was the concept of period relation which equated Π phenomena of one sort with Z of another.
In each case the period relation implied that variations associated with the second phenomenon recurred after Π instances of the first phenomenon, and thus that Π phenomena = Z cycles of variation.
* the Substitute King ritual, practiced extensively during the reigns of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, in which a substitute “king” (and queen) would be appointed to absorb the unfavorable effects of an adverse eclipse, which would be expunged from the kingdom by their subsequent deaths.

Source: John P. Britton. Studies in Babylonian Lunar Theory: Part I. Empirical Elements for Modeling Lunar and Solar Anomalies.

Arch. Hist. Exact Sci. 61 (2007) 83–145. Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1007/s00407-006-0121-9
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Another good graphic from "A history of commerce, 1907" - before and after the age of explorers (mid-15th century).

Geographic discoveries of the 15th century provided another incentive for the Northern Europeans to break away from Catholicism:
The non-Christian world was divided between these two powers by a papal decree which gave to Portugal Africa and Asia except the Philippines and to Spain the Americas except Brazil. So long as other European states obeyed papal authority and feared the might of Spain and Portugal, they were bound to respect this division and the first period of discoveries was followed by a series of voyages carried on especially by English and Dutch seeking a passage northeast or northwest through Arctic seas that would enable them to evade the monopoly granted by the Pope.

Major inventions of the 17th and 18th centuries: log and chronometer:
The simple means of the later Middle Ages could give some idea of a vessel's latitude but very little of its longitude. The introduction of the log in the seventeenth century enabled a sailor to measure distance traversed more accurately and the invention of the chronometer in the eighteenth century gave at last a reliable and practical means of determining longitude at sea.
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...Greek mathematics introduced the quest for general propositions which could be proved in such a way as to be objectively persuasive. In other words, where the Egyptians had been able to calculate the volume of a certain cylinder and verify that the result was correct, or at least suitable for their, usually practical, purposes, the Greeks found the general formula for the volume of any cylinder and proved why that formula was right.

Serafina Cuomo. Ancient Mathematics.
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Several of the Phoenician consonants encoded sounds not used in Greek, and at some point an unknown genius took a momentous step: he or she converted these unneeded letters into vowels. The new Greek vowels eliminated nearly all the ambiguity of a consonant-only script and thus enabled mastery of the alphabet by children as young as five or six.

- William J. Bernstein. Masters of the Word (2014).

An alphabet with vowels is more "free monoidable" than one without them.
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But after years of experiments that actually bankrupted his family, Charles Goodyear finally realized his dream; he discovered, quite by accident, how to stabilize the sap he was so obsessed with and received his first patent for “vulcanizing” (from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire) rubber in 1837.

The narrative about a major invention follows the pattern of a fairy tale (волшебная сказка). The main character goes out into the woods and by pure accident discovers a magic object. Fuck.

upd: in Searle's terms we should not confuse a prior intention with an intention in action. 
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Now listen to what I did for the mortals to save them from their many miseries.
In the beginning they were without a working mind so I gave them sense and reason. I am not saying this to disparage mankind but to show that the gifts I have given them were due to my love for them.
Firstly, in those days their eyes were of no use and the same was true of their ears which, though they could hear sounds, they made no sense of them. For their whole lives mortals lived as if in a dream, confused about everything and making sense of nothing. They didn’t know if a building was made of brick or wood nor knew anything about houses that were warmed by the sun but they lived beneath the ground in sunless caves, as do the ants.Read more... )

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