1880s: People in New England farming communities led a difficult, culturally void existence. 1911: Innovations in transportation made communication easier between the villages and gave residents access to recreational activities in the bigger towns. Today: Videocassettes, radio, cable television, and the Internet have made the world a global village.
1880s: The era of railroad building made earlier methods of transportation in the United States largely obsolete. 1911: Automobiles (and later buses and trucks) came to exceed the railroad in importance. Today: Jet travel makes it possible to travel almost anywhere in the world in a day, and supersonic transport reduces long-distance air travel by half.
1880s: Although Thomas Edison patented an incandescent lamp in 1879, most lighting was still by candlelight, oil lamp, or gas jet. 1911: Electricity was increasingly available in homes, which used incandescent lighting. French physicist Georges Claude developed the neon lamp, which was used in commercial signs. Today: Variations of Thomas Edison’s incandescent lamp (light bulbs) are used to light homes, whereas factories, offices, stores, and public buildings generally use fluorescent lighting; street and highway lighting is still an evolving technology.
1880s: Techniques based on photography and spectroscopy (a method of measuring the wavelength and intensity of spectral lines) revolutionized astronomy. 1911: The main ideas about the evolution, that is, the life history, of stars become clear. Today: Since its launch from the shuttle Atlantis in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided a flood of new images of the universe. For example, it shows star clusters 2.2 million light years away, springtime dust storms at the Martian north pole, and (for the first time) the surface of Pluto.