Big Bang Theory Intro #13: The Wheel
It’s round, and it rolls. Nothing like the wheel.
The Wheel is one of the inventions that is always pointed towards as one of the earliest smart things. You see them on a ton of advertisements for patent filing stuff. The source image this time was from a different source. I think that I could make an argument for Irrigation, since it has been around longer and has more of an impact on civilization when it happens. The Wheel showed up on vehicles starting in around 4th century BC, and they were using irrigation in ancient Persia almost 2000 years before that.
Reinventing the wheel is something that people are supposed to avoid, but there’s always something to be said for improving on a design. There isn’t a ton of things that you can do to improve on the round shape though. Then again, if the roads were slightly differently constructed, then square wheels would work fine.
One of the best reinventions, or improvements, to the wheel, was done by John Boyd Dunlop who invented the pneumatic tire, which uses the property that air is an incompressible fluid and a rubber tube in order to make it possible for the tire to roll over small bumps and rocks without damaging the tire. It will just roll over, compressing and expanding the rest of the tire until the obstacle is over. This provides a type of shock absorption as well.
Even though they have a lot of advantages, airless tires have been one of the things that you always hear as coming in the next few years. Some of the more recent ones are from Bridgestone and Michelin. They look pretty freaky when they are in a moving car though - almost like the hovercar.