There are lots of concepts originally developed by ancient civilizations, but which modern scientists resuscitated and then took credit for – a few of them will be examined here as reported by Mark Lorch, senior lecturer in Biological Chemistry and Associate Dean for Engagement at the University of Hull in The Conversation.
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Chrome plating during the Qin dynasty
Chrome plated metal was first developed as an idea during the Qin dynasty in ancient China 2,000 years ago before the West ever knew what chrome was or what it could be used for. Today, it is used as a layer for coating metals and plastics, bathrooms, and cars after George Sargent popularized its use in 1920 before it become a commercial success that dominated the Art Deco period before Robert Bunsen also experimented with it.
Concrete was first used by ancient Romans in constructing the Pantheon and the Colosseum among other ancient architectures before modern people started using it for their residential and commercial buildings. Ancient Romans developed their own concrete by mixing volcanic ash and lime to make bricks which do not crack, but people today think they came up with the idea of building with concrete bricks made by mixing sand and gravel and cement.
Carbon nanotubes are today used in wind turbines, vehicles and sports gear among other things because they are the strongest and stiffest materials ever known – they are cylinders with walls that are only one atom thick. This material was first developed by the ancient people of Damascus thousands of years ago, even though modern people fine-tuned it to make it enhance the resistance and strength of objects – making it super strong and yet super light.
Egyptians are credited as first mixing sand, ash, calcium carbonate made from shells, and copper of ore among other things to make organic dye 3000BC, but William Perkin is today credited with discovering organic dye because he accidentally produced purple mauveine in 1856 while trying to make quinine.
Atomic theory of matter
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John Dalton in the early 19th century is believed to have first looked into the atomic theory of matter, but this is not true because Greek philosophers Democritus and Leucippus in the 5BC already experimented with the idea that all matter is made up of physical, indivisible and invisible atoms – long before modern scientists thought they developed the concept and application of chemistry.