Guns, germs, steel…and fashion

I am still reading Mark Miodownik’s book Stuff Matters about materials. It’s a great book and I am doing my best to read it at a leisurely pace so that I can enjoy each chapter individually.

The chapter about glass is, as ever, very readable and interesting. In a way I was expecting Mark would talk at some length about the importance of glass for modern architecture. But Mark goes way back: how Romans and their primitive glass-making techniques might have contributed to change history. You see, at the same time that the Romans struggled to make glass that would be able to withstand even the tiniest shock, the Chinese has the capacity of  producing quality glass.

But while the Chinese were happy to drink from opaque vessels, the Romans loved to drink and see their wine. This led to further developments in glass making and could explain why European scientists created  microscopes and telescopes before anybody else.

The title in my post is based on the book by Jared Diamond: Guns, germs and steel. The idea of the book is that the West won the resources and geographical lottery. It turns that fashion might have also had something to do with it.


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