Spacescifi

Fastest Theoretical Tech Development

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5 hours ago, farmerben said:

.This is partly right, but it also depends on exceptional circumstances and exceptional odds.  Like catching the enemy by surprise, or defending against a frontal assault.  In 1918 the German army stripped all its infantry units of the best men to create stormtrooper units.  They were very effective.  On the attack they took fewer casualties than the defenders,  but not that much more.

Ancient and medieval armies did adapt constantly, but the adaptations don't seem that dramatic from our perspective.  In some ways it was rock-paper-scissors adaptation rather than clear technological advance.  The Roman pilum and later plumbatum seem superior to normal javelins, but were eventually abandoned by the Byzantines.  I don't believe they forgot, maybe they just decided the expense was not worth it.  The Dane Axe was briefly popular, and might be great against heavily armored enemies in disorganized formations, but sucks otherwise.  

Hernan Cortez was one of the most badass champions who ever lived, and he had enourmous technological advantages.  Yet when the fighting for Teotihuacan was at its most intense, he and his most elite troops were arrayed as pikemen with partial plate armor. They would not have looked too strange outside the gates of Troy.  Indeed the Mexica had overcome their initial terror of horses, cannons, and steel armor and engaged in circumstances where the Spanish really only had an advantage in armor and that was not covering the whole body.  

The Roman pilum was very nice against enemies who depended a lot on large shields, it was designed to penetrate the shield and get stuck so you could not use your shield effectively. 
As shields got smaller and armor better you might want a spear better to pierce chainmail. 
And yes the development of armor from 700 to 1500 is amazing. Also the cost reduction, around 1100 an fully decked out knight had the manhour cost behind him like an F16 pilot. 
300 years later mercenaries had better gear. 

Then firearms came in an killed the armor, or more likely they could penetrate armor something longbows or practical crossbows could not. 
Have an feeling primary benefit of the matchlock smootbores was in part in that they could penetrate 1400 Gothic plate so you had to focus on breastplate and helmet leaving arms and legs easier to damage. You still had gambeson  but you could get past that. 

Note you had caseless repeating guns back in the early 1700. Downside, they was idiotic expensive to make and far more so to not blowing up. 
You pretty much needed an master gunsmith you liked you a lot to maintain it. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cNtduI3aRA
It stayed an toys for nobles for this reason. 
Invent special forces earlier, give them stuff like this and some pipe bombs. Their purpose is to keep the enemy disoriented while you storm the walls. 
 

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20 hours ago, YNM said:

The warfare have just shifted to the cyber landscape entirely.

Ukraine and Syria would be among the places that would care to disagree.

4 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Afaik, the South/Central American civilizations had mostly fallen before the European arrival.

They were on the decline - as was the North American civilization, which managed to collapse in between their encounter with the Spanish and the Anglos.

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7 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Have an feeling primary benefit of the matchlock smootbores was in part in that they could penetrate 1400 Gothic plate so you had to focus on breastplate and helmet leaving arms and legs easier to damage.

Actually during the Husité rebellions proto-Gothic plate proved bulletproof. In the 1520s the fluting got dropped and in 1530s the breastplate began to gain a purposeful slope, but it wasn't until the musket that full-body plate armour was defeated outright.

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35 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

In absence of Molotov they weren't aware of a cocktail.
Otherwise they should know that armored tanks can be fought with burning pots of oil.

You need an highly flammable substance for this, Gasoline and washing powder is the easy way to make something like napalm. 
High proof alcohol works but don't burn that hot, easy to make but dates to medieval times. 
Greek fire was more effective but is lost, better than alcohol but worse than napalm or even the homemade version. 

Yes you can heat up stuff like olive oil and tar and set fire on it for an decent effect but this has an long set up time, nice then the siege towers are rolled in but not then you hit the gate with an cannon. 
And don't try this WW2 tricks on something like an T-72 or newer, probably older to as it worked well back then. 
Yes you can do an covered hole in the ground. An M1 or other latest generation tanks might have sensors who spot this but its still an stone age invention who one shot an tank. 
 

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8 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Yes you can heat up stuff like olive oil and tar and set fire on it for an decent effect but this has an long set up time, nice then the siege towers are rolled in but not then you hit the gate with an cannon. 
And don't try this WW2 tricks on something like an T-72 or newer, probably older to as it worked well back then. 

Hm... I meant Aztecs vs Cortez, just in case...

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7 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Hm... I meant Aztecs vs Cortez, just in case...

Assumed so however it sounded a lot like the Molotov cocktail who they lacked a number of tech levels to reach:
Now I could make moonshine in the stone age with some pottery skill. 
However it was an medieval invention by the caliphate who would not use it the obvious way.  This was an major health benefit 

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16 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Now I could make moonshine in the stone age with some pottery skill. 

A hollow branch is enough. Or a long pumpkin. To make a pipe. And a fire or frost.

16 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

However it was an medieval invention by the caliphate who would not use it the obvious way. 

Wiki says, in Alexandria, I cent.
So, probably they were using it properly...

Edited by kerbiloid

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20 hours ago, farmerben said:

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton rejected repeating rifles saying the troops would waste too much ammo.  He might have imagined that the logistics systems would have to improve by an order of magnitude, along with the budget.  Those troops who received repeating rifles did outstandingly well.  Abel Straight's Lightning Mules with Spencer repeating carbines were the shock troops of Sherman's march on Atlanta.  At Chickamauga they were hugely outnumbered, and did well.  There is a popular myth that the revolver style rifles would detonate multiple chambers and blow off the left hand of the shooter.  However there is not a single recorded case of this actually happening.  I would believe it could have happened.  But it seems to be one of those rumors that gets repeated and greatly exaggerated.  Nearly every innovation was carried out privately, and many were ready when the war started.  The difficulty was getting the US government to spend more money.  Some of the Indians at Little Big Horn were better armed than the US cavalry.  Because at that time the US government was not willing to buy the best, because of seemingly more economical options.  

In the case of WWII, we saw massive funding into several technologies that would never have received that support otherwise.  But in nearly every case, the fundamental discovery or invention was already around, it was the funding for development that mattered.  Many technologies were not developed as much as they could have been during the war, because the protagonists wanted quantity and they wanted it now.  For example the half-track troop carrier was a quick and dirty improvisation on existing trucks which was totally dropped after the war, while no attempt for a better troop carrier was conducted during the war. And the decision to focus on quantity rather than quality was a good decision at the height of the war.  The Panther tank and the Me 262 didn't impact the outcome of the war as much as the T-34 and IL-2 which were both developed before the war.  

the minie ball in of itself was a pretty lethal advancement. its why the civil war was one of the bloodiest conflicts in american history. firearms technology really took off after the war. it was equivalent to the advancement of computers in the last 40 or so years. went from single shot muzzle loaded rifles to gatling guns in very short order. the advent of the cartridge brought in the modern era of firearms. you also had the rise of iron ships too. ironclads were completely impenetrable with standard ball ammo which lead to more advanced naval munitions, which also led to better field artillery. this also completely obsoleted wooden ships for use in naval warfare. civil war also brought medical advances. field surgery for example, granted it usually involved a bottle of whisky and a hack saw, but you were able to survive wounds which would have been a death sentence a few years prior. and any medical advancement spills over into the civilian sector pretty rapidly.

much technological advancement actually comes from the aftermath of war. nuclear technology for example didnt take off until the end of ww2, we had a few nukes. periods of peace time between conflict are essential to put the lessons learned in the previous conflict into practice in both military and civilian sectors. i have a feeling prolonged total war would actually be pretty destructive to advancement. this puts civilian science and engineering facilities on the target list along with production and infrastructure. facilities like iter and the lhc would likely be obliterated to avoid giving an enemy a leg up on technology. you have young minds being groomed for battle rather than higher education. unless you were going into a field of science that could help the war effort it was far more likely you would find yourself drafted. most of the western nations have come to the conclusion that total war is far too destructive a doctrine and are more likely to resort to diplomacy. 

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4 hours ago, magnemoe said:

This on the other hand the Spanish had plate armor, at least the front group had. Something the Aztecs had no idea how to counter. No you can not penetrate it without something like an two handed war axe hitting with the pointy back or an lance from an charging horse. And yes the stone swords would also shatter hitting the armor. An heavy club would be more effective. 
Aztecs had copper, not sure about bronze, still stone was more common than bronze in the bronze age. 

Two other factors, one was that the Spanish got the people the Aztec has conquered to rise up and an disease who killed most of the population 

Cortez was considered the greatest swordsman in all of Spain.  Yet on the causeways of Tenochtitlan he himself fought with a pike.  It was pike vs pike combat.  With all their technology they could not achieve missile supremacy enough to avoid being continually surrounded by Aztec archers in canoes.  Mounted charges and cannon blasts helped win several battles before they reached Tenochtitlan, but in the city itself they did not work.  

The Spanish armor was their primary advantage (in the city), but it did not protect the face and all of the limbs.  Had the Spaniards known exactly what they were facing and been able to choose any kit they wanted, they might have chosen armor and shields from centuries earlier.

 

As you mentioned, it is difficult to penetrate armor even with steel weapons.  Fully armored men typically have to be knocked to the ground before they can be finished off, or more often captured for ransom.  

Edited by farmerben

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On ‎9‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 11:27 PM, magnemoe said:

Wars has an impact, WW1 and 2 boosted airplanes a lot and started rocketry. 
However it also focus on weapon systems and ignore other stuff. 

You need conflict and needs however but this does not have to be violent. 
The industrial revolution, going from transistors to internet, the space race. 

The threat of annihilation, a basic human fear, is the driver behind technology. War is not required for technological advancement. Only the possibility of it. 

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On 9/10/2019 at 11:19 AM, kerbiloid said:

"enemies" = "another group of people who owns useful resources or (usually, "and") wants ours"
'submission" = "they let us use the resources formerly owned by them and don't pretend to take ours. And maybe can work for us consuming less resources for their own purposes."
Pure economics. "Nothing personal, just business". Sports and emotions just help to hire a required army, but usually don't start wars.

Emotions are just something economy can use.

11 hours ago, DDE said:

Ukraine and Syria would be among the places that would care to disagree.

Media helped to the others who potentially helps and to make yet others couldn't care.

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There is also an element of conservatism and tradition in military units which hinders innovation.  Raw recruits can probably point to a dozen changes they think should be made, but are discouraged from expressing them.  Train the way we tell you to.  Only when you have demonstrated mastery of the established techniques do people want to hear your ideas.  But, by then part of your brain has been trained into familiar patterns.  This is not entirely bad, as trying random stuff could be disastrous.  

Military development for most of the twentieth century was justified on the basis of just two reasons.  Either the problem was glaringly obvious because of losses.  Or it was claimed the enemy was already working on such and such development.   

Competition is a reality check that something which has worked before, will no longer work. 

The idea that one should make their own technology obsolete before the competition even catches up is a fairly new idea.  I don't think anybody before Steve Jobs talked about it.  

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On 9/10/2019 at 8:01 PM, farmerben said:

Cortez was considered the greatest swordsman in all of Spain.  Yet on the causeways of Tenochtitlan he himself fought with a pike.  It was pike vs pike combat.  With all their technology they could not achieve missile supremacy enough to avoid being continually surrounded by Aztec archers in canoes.  Mounted charges and cannon blasts helped win several battles before they reached Tenochtitlan, but in the city itself they did not work.  

The Spanish armor was their primary advantage (in the city), but it did not protect the face and all of the limbs.  Had the Spaniards known exactly what they were facing and been able to choose any kit they wanted, they might have chosen armor and shields from centuries earlier.

 

As you mentioned, it is difficult to penetrate armor even with steel weapons.  Fully armored men typically have to be knocked to the ground before they can be finished off, or more often captured for ransom.  

"Greatest swordsman in all of Spain" likely meant "best at unarmored rapier/smallsword fighting", which is a bit different from armored fighting, let along sword and shield.  I'd expect a surprising number of warriors to favor the spear in such situations, especially if it is easier to get the blade out of an enemy after running them through (which isn't something you typically need to do when defending your title of "greatest swordsman in Spain).

I also wouldn't call such combat "pike vs. pike" unless the Aztecs either had steel or some other spear tip capable of piercing at least some type of armor (Cortez couldn't get through a breastplate either, but almost certainly a gambeson).  And the sword would only make sense if he could have a shield made (not sure he'd fight better sword and shield vs. spear, but perhaps it would raise morale to have such a swordsman leading your army).

Matt Easton posted a video today that is amazingly on topic (but I doubt he is a space nerd as well): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XcuZbMi0mM

 

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Btw, isn't it the time to think about space fencing?
The rapier looks like a native space weapon when opponents are wearing spacesuits.

Edited by kerbiloid

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It is interesting that in the 16th and 17th centuries warfare in Europe had sort of come full circle from ancient Greece.   The pike was once again the arm of decision.  Most battles were decided by the push of the pike, where the formation of one side or the other would break first even though the casualties were fairly low.  And the tactics used to supplement this were also similar.  

Early musketeers are a crude analog of javelin skirmishers of the ancient world.  They could inflict damage but not hold a line, so they had to skirmish.  The Spanish used light javelin cavalry called "jinetes" comparable to the Numidian cavalry which Alexander came to realize were his most valuable troops.  They could act in all circumstances, while the other troop types were only the best in certain cases.

These periods followed an age where archery and heavy cavalry were the most important (the Assyrians and Egyptians were archer focused with heavy chariots).  And were succeeded by an age of hybrid infantry.  The Roman legions were flexible enough to use both light infantry and heavy infantry tactics, while not being able to out skirmish the skirmishers, nor out heavy a pike phalanx, but with flexibility was better than both.   Similarly, musketeers with bayonets were flexible enough for all circumstances while not being the best in each case.  

 

 

 

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On 9/8/2019 at 5:05 PM, Spacescifi said:

Some claim that war is a necessary evil because it serves their evolutionary belief system and also advances technology.

Technological advances require 2 things:

  1. A perceived need
  2. Sufficient imagination

Physically modern humans have been around about 250,000 years.  And all that time, they definitely had not just perceived but very pressing needs of the most basic kinds, as had our ancestors and cousins going back about 2.2 million years to Australopithecus.  They were also at war every single day of their lives, from birth to (usually) early, violent death, engaged in the same never-ending fight for bare survival common to all members of the ecosystem.  They had to fight the whims of Nature, they had to fight the beasts, they had to fight the weeds, and they had to fight each other.  And eventually, they fought their way to the top of the foodchain.  Evolution made humans the apex predators through a bloody war lasting a couple million years, and that's why humans ain't peaceful and never will be.  We've only had roofs over our heads the last few thousand years.  All modern civilization is just a thin coat of paint, easily scraped away, on what genetically to its core is a raging beast.

But anyway, if it's simply war that drives technology, you'd think we'd have UFO tech by now, given 2 million years of constant warfare.  Problem is, for most of this time, humans apparently lacked the necessary imagination.  Our evolutionary grandfather, Homo erectus, chipped his achuelean handaxes the same way for over 1 million years.  Our kissing cousin Homo neanderthal chipped his levalois points the same way for about 250,000 years.  And even anatomically modern humans used the same Neanderthal technology for most of our existence, too.  It used to be thought that BEHAVIORALLY modern humans (not only looking but also thinking like is) didn't appear until only about 35,000 years ago, although new finds have been pushing this back about twice that far.  And other finds have shown even Neanderthal had little imagination even further back.  But it seems to have been a flickering flame of imagination, with different groups having different ideas, some of which don't seem to have lasted, so it still looks like 35-40,000 years ago before everything really came together for us (in several parts of the world), and even the last few Neanderthals picked up some of our new ideas.

So between then and the Neolithic (agriculture, ceramics, etc.) somewhere around 30,000 years, folks just like us were getting up every day facing the same old list of needs--food, drink, shelter, sex, and security--most of which had to be fought for.  But apart from inventing the bow and arrow (which might be rather older, but wasn't mainstream yet) and domesticating dogs, it was still the same old same old in terms of meeting their needs.  What they did invent was new needs:  religion, government, and fancy clothes marking social status.  It wasn't until very recently, like about 5000 years ago, that agriculture altered this ancient picture.  Domestic plants and animals provided a new way of getting food, but also new things to fight over, too.

Once we had agriculture, we could grow surplus population which had to be organized.  This allowed the raising and uniform equipment of large armies.  And bronze and then iron came into vogue but, in terms of military advances, they just replaced stone spearpoints, arrowheads, and knife blades.  And so things remained for most of the last 5000 years.  Huge wars were fought nearly constantly but, apart from chariots and then cavalry being added to the mix, it was still the same old hack and smash of the Stone Age, just on a much bigger scale, with more or professionalism.  Yet despite the constant need to keep up with or surpass the enemy technologically, nobody had any better ideas about killing people until gunpowder came along in the last few centuries.  And once that got integrated, things again remained about the same militarily for a couple centuries of essentially constant warfare. It wasn't until the latter half of the 1800s into the early 1900s that military tech began to resemble what we have now.

All along this way, non-military technology has driven military technology, not the other way around.  Military tech has always repurposed non-military tech

  • Stone Age weapons were repurposed hunting and crafting tools.
  • Agriculture, which is about feeding, not fighting, was the most significant technological innovation in human history.  But it created large armies needed to defend (or take) fertile, irrigated land.
  • The wheel (leading to chariots and ultimately tanks) was invented to haul farm produce to market, but it became the chariot and ultimately tanks.
  • Writing was invented to keep track of trade transactions and taxes, but it also allowed control of armies over long distances.
  • Metals were invented to make tools and jewelry but of course weapons weren't far behind.
  • Plumbing was invented for sanitation, medicine for daily ills, both of which had spin-offs in military bases and on the battlefield
  • Gunpowder was invented for entertainment but of course became guns, bombs, and rockets
  • Steam was invented to pump out mines and move products and people, but of course powered warships and their heavy equipment
  • Steel was invented for civil engineering projects (buildings, bridges, railroads) but of course allowed the construction of bigger cannons and the warships to carry them.
  • The internal combustion engine was invented to improve domestic transportation but also had military applications.
  • Analog computers were invented to control textile mills and player pianos but could also solve complex fire control problems
  • Etc.

So, it seems to me that the main driver of technology is the desire to make daily life easier and/or get rich (which ultimately makes your life easier).  But humans, being hereditary warriors from way back, aren't at all slow at adapting civilian technology to military purposes, which are always there in the background if not currently right in your face.

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