Department of Overlooked Technologies, Unusual Effects, and Forgotten Weapons

Department of Overlooked Technologies, Unusual Effects, and Forgotten Weapons

I’m trying to compile a partial list of technologies that were overlooked or forgotten, yet could have come into common use significantly earlier, and would have had a potentially major impact (ASB’s need not apply)

There are a fair number of them, if you look. Any others people can think of? Or any hidden effects that could come out besides the obvious?

1888: Munroe effect: The effect that makes shaped charges work was known as early as 1888, yet was not seen as militarily useful until the Second World War. Even if a shaped charge shell would have been problematical, certainly the effect could have been useful for demolitions long before World War II, and perhaps as a shaped charge shell or bomb.

1893: M1893 Gatling Gun. Dr. Gatling electrified his famous gun, giving a rate of fire of 3000 rounds per minute, an unheard of rate of fire, and unmatched until the 1950’s. This gun, I found described in GURPS High-Tech, which, to the best of my knowledge, is quite well researched. Reliability was not great, but only one was ever made. It needed external power, so would not have been a field gun…but emplaced, or on a ship or vehicle, very useful.

1904: Radar’s potential was demonstrated, yet the naval authorities saw no use for it. Even detecting ememy ships a few miles out, in fog or night, would have been very useful in the Great War.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_radar

1915: Federov Avtomat, a full fledged assault rifle manufactured in Russia. It was used in combat, but not many were made due to the Russian Civil War. Although it needed good care, it was a decent gun, and all weapons get more reliable if the effort is made. Applicatins obvious, especially for trench warfare and urban fighting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedorov_Avtomat
http://world.guns.ru/assault/as86-e.htm
 
I seem to remember an elecric vehicle breaking the land speed record in the 19th century (1890s?) Could they have been developed?

Then of course there's the C5...
 
Non-military

Just as long as here are some non-military examples, I'll keep reading...

Both Radar and Munroe Effect explosives have many non-military uses. I believe that the early radio detection might have been able to prevent RMS Titanic from colliding with the iceberg. And better explosives are useful for so many things!
 
To promote one of my favourite subjects, the steam car(riage) could have been brought into at least limited general use by the 1860s. There was no technological reason why not (economy and politics being different matters, but those apply to most things on this list, I guess.)
 
Ah, my favorite subject.

1. Sulfonamide drugs. This powerful antibacterial drug was first invented in 1906 as a yellow dye for the textile industry. It wasn't until the late 1930s that its antibacterial properties were widley understood. It could have been used to cure many incurable diseases. Not to mention greatly reduce the damage of the Spanish Influenza. Sulfonamide was quickly displaced by penicillin after WWII.

2. DDT, first created in 1874. It wasn't used as an insecticide until WWII. Untold millions died from tropical diseases that could have been prevented with DDT.

3. The Green Revolution, the massive increase in agricultural output which allowed the overpopulated world to feed itself. Since the 1960s, this has saved more than a billion lives. This is a combination of artificial fertilizer, Super Seed, and genetically modified wheat and rice strains pioneered by Norman Borlaug. One of the reasons Hitler wanted lebenstrum was the preceived lack of farm land to sustain the German population. Theoritically not impossible to do before WWII.

4. The Austria School of economics. Economic liberalism was ahead of its time. Failure to heed its teachings is probably the greatest lost opportunity of the 20th century.

5. The birthcontrol pill, aka Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill. This wonder drug single handedly started women's liberation by giving women control over their reproductive system. The sexual revolution would have been impossible without it. It's a simple formula of estrogen and progestogen.

6. Instand Noodles. A post-WWII invention. Enough said.


On the military side:

1. HESH anti-tank warhead. This could have been invented before WWII, but only saw service afterwards.

2. Recoilless guns. This simple, light weight and low cost anti-tank weapon was used in limited numbers by the Germans in WWII. It later became the mainstay infantry anti-tank weapon of the post war era. Ironically it was originally invented by Soviet designer L.V. Kurchevski, who was executed during Stalin's purges and as a result his designs were neglected by his home country.

3. Multiple Launched Rocket System. Used extensively by the Soviets and Germans in WWII, less so by the Allies. Could have been available in WWI if rocket research was encouraged.

4. The sniper. Sniper training and specialized equipment were generally neglected after WWI, and countries that did not never fully developed it to its potential in WWII. A low cost weapon with very high returns.

5. Stamped sheet steel receivers. This greatly reduced the cost and expense of submachine guns and some machine guns in the middle of WWII.

6. Rifle barrel buttoning. This simple post WWII technology reduced the time of making rifle barrels to a fraction of the standard cut rifling technology.

7. TNT molding technology. Shells were filled with TNT by casting it in liquid form. However a much easier process was to heat it to lower temperature and extruded it to shape while it was in plastic state. This greatly improved shell quality and rate of production. Something that could have been done long before WWII, and some countries did not know how until afterwards.


If we are to go before 1900. I would say TNT was something that could have been invented centuries earlier. It's ingredients of nitric and sulfuric acids were known to Arab scientists in ancient times and someone could theoritically have stumbled onto it. This was the first high explosive, which is far more destructive than blackpowder.
 
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To promote one of my favourite subjects, the steam car(riage) could have been brought into at least limited general use by the 1860s. There was no technological reason why not (economy and politics being different matters, but those apply to most things on this list, I guess.)

I agree. There seems to be a tendency on this site to focus on technologically possible things and ignore everything else.

Differential gears, steam power, spectacles even possibly electricity were invented in antiquity. So what? The whole make up of society the whole mind set and cultural landscape was not conducive to the further development of these ideas. We may well have 'discovered' some amazing technological breakthrough now but only our decendants will see its possibilities and will wonder why we did not exploit its obvious benefits.

Of what possible use would an electric powered gattling gun be on a ship in 1893? To defend the vessel against what? What vehicle would it have been mounted on - a horse drawn cart?

Why would any navy be interested in radar in 1904 when even commerically savy people were not interested in talking pictures? Television was around as a demonstrated concept many decades before ot was introduced commerically and even then very few foresaw it would threaten the film industry. Why? Because society was much more communal than individualistic.

An assault rifle in 1915 that needed an awful lot of care would be bloddy useless in the mud on the western front in the hands of hastily trained troops. Even more useless in the hands of barely trained Russian conscripts. The BEF at Mons may have found it useful but the mass armies of WWI were just that masses of men trained to point and shoot and obey orders and not much else.
 

Hendryk

Banned
Let's not overlook a basic invention: paper. It was known to the Chinese since the second century BCE. The Arabs found out about it in the 8th century, and it reached Christendom in the 13th century. Find a way for paper to reach the western end of the Eurasian landmass faster, and you can change European history beyond recognition. Romans with a cheap, mass-produceable medium for recording information...
 
Mind you, DDT is bad, since it concentrates itself as it goes up the food chain...
This is a Myth
The FDA report on DDT found no Scientific or Medical reason to Ban DDT.
The FDA banned DDT a week later, The Decision had been made before the Hearings began.
It was only a coincidence that Dupont's Patents expired just after the Ban.
 
This is a Myth
The FDA report on DDT found no Scientific or Medical reason to Ban DDT.
The FDA banned DDT a week later, The Decision had been made before the Hearings began.
It was only a coincidence that Dupont's Patents expired just after the Ban.

Ah... Dupont...

By the way... all poisons concentrate themselves up the food chain...

The further up the food chain you are, the greater the mass of food you need to eat... Since the poison is in the eaten animal, it will become more concentrates... :p
 

Oddball

Monthly Donor
Another one:

Malthusian catastrophe concept. Failure to understand the problems of exponential population growth has ruined this planet. If we had half the population with stable replacement level growth, much of the pollution and resource depletion problems would solve themselves.

That is a good point, but even if you "dicover" this concept earlier, how do you put it to use? :confused:

We know of it today, but seem incapabel of doing anything about it :(

Btw, excellent thread! :)

I would like to heare about earlier concepts "lost" :cool:
 
Of what possible use would an electric powered gattling gun be on a ship in 1893? To defend the vessel against what?

Torpedo boats, same reason we had Gatling guns on ships in OTL at that time.
 
This is a Myth
The FDA report on DDT found no Scientific or Medical reason to Ban DDT.
The FDA banned DDT a week later, The Decision had been made before the Hearings began.
It was only a coincidence that Dupont's Patents expired just after the Ban.

Agree with you on this. DDT needs to be reexamined so it can be used to effectively combat malaria bearing mosquitos and other mosquitos in general.
 
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