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Ready for a Weekend long-read about Humming bird effect? Warning - This is really a very long thread that you might actually call it a yarn. (1/35)
A thread about how a few historical happenings trigger a chain of events that beautifully evolves over time to create a whole new world altogether. Yawn! Ok let me rephrase that. (2/35)
What if I told you that the reason you are reading this tweet thread on your phone, is because of a fire accident that happened at Venice in early 1290s, or because a German guy named John Guttenberg printed the Bible for the first time in 1450?
Now we are talking, right? (3/35)
In fact, how we are today can be attributed to a significant set of events that happened in our history, many many years ago.

Though may sound very similar to Butterfly effect or chaos theory, it is actually not. (4/35)
Butterfly effect says that a flutter of butterfly's wings might cause changes that might trigger a storm elsewhere.

There is no certainty that a storm in Mumbai occured because of a fluttering butterfly in Tokyo. You can't trace back an event in a butterfly effect. (5/35)
This is where Humming bird effect differs. You can trace back an event that has happened over time with logical certainty. The reason why it is called humming bird effect is in itself an interesting story about evolution, but that's for another time. Already a long thread. (6/35)
Let's get to the interesting part - the story about how a chain of events around glass created the world we live in today. (7/35)
Glass is not something that is rare. You take a handful of sand, you will find the hand holding silica and quartz in all abundance. But to make glass, the silica has to fuse and for that the temperature has to rise above 1800 Celsius, a touch higher than Chennai summers. (8/35)
Perhaps sometime in history a lighting would have stuck on ground, creating a heat dance on sand, producing glass structures like the one in the picture.
And some curious souls should have experimented with these in the ancient civilizations. (9/35)
But the real story of significance unfolded with the sack of Constantinople in early 1200s. The city was looted and ransacked. A number of glassmakers from the region fled the city and settled in Rome. (10/35)
They started manufacturing glass there and the trade flourished. Since the glass making warrants high heat, the occurence of fire accidents in the city was not so uncommon. (11/35)
To reduce the fire accidents in the city, by the early 1290s, the Government made a law to permanently move all the glassmakers to a lonely Island called Murano.

Unempathetic governance is one thing that is unchanged from our history. But this proved to be a blessing! (12/35)
What happens when all experts are put together in a place?
People networked, interacted, and started learning from each other.
The creation of forced ecosystem fostered innovation in glass-making.

Essentially, Murano was world's first Silicon Valley. Rather Silica valley.(13/35)
Innovation in glass making took a huge leap when Angelo Barovier added ManganeseDioxide to glass, making it look completely colourless - crystal clear glass. Crystallo as they called the glass then, set the stage for unleashing a chain of changes for the next 7 centuries. (14/35)
People got fascinated by glass that was crystal clear. Why wouldn't they be? You place a glass before you, and you still see the world functioning as it is, with no disturbance.
There's now an invisible wall between people and their world. Stuff fictions were made of. (15/35)
Crystallo got refined 2 centuries later by the addition of lead oxide to produce fine quality crystal on an industrial scale, in a Northern French town named Saint Gobain.
The name rings a bell? (16/35)
The reason Crystallo was a turning point in world history was not because of the glass industry in isolation, but because of an unrelated another historical event - the invention of Printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.

The humming bird story takes flight here. (17/35)
Gutenberg's invention resulted in hundreds of changes.

People's literacy increased. Literate people started questioning the Church. Candle industry boomed to enable people read at nights. Edison and 22 others before him came up with patents to provide light for reading. (18/35)
But the less talked about after-effect of the invention of printing press was the realization that quite a significant number of humans were MYOPIC! (19/35)
Before printing, people didn't have a reason to care about myopia, because there was no reason to focus on closer objects.
But when words got printed, some realized that their eyes were unable to focus on words clearly.

This led to the discovery of Myopia in humans. (20/35)
With the invention of clear glass, such as Crystallo and crystal glasses, and with a dire problem in the market that needed a solution, guess what came into this world?

Yes, Spectacles. (21/35)
The demand for spectacles grew rapidly, leading to an algal bloom of manufacturers. More the supply, more was the need to differentiate the product for gaining market share.

People started experimenting. (22/35)
A guy named Janssen, while experimenting, overlapped two lenses one over the other, rather than keeping them side by side as in spectacles.

He didn't better the spectacles, but had by now invented one of the path-breaking tools of the modern times - The microscope. (23/35)
Several people took inspiration from Janssen's work and improved on the design.
Leeuwenhoek observed lives of fleas and bacteria to create the science of microbiology.
Galileo created telescope.
Curiosity bit another guy named Hooke who observed cork under a microscope. (24/35)
When Hooke observed the Cork under microscope, he didn't know then that he was looking at the future of healthcare.
He was the first to observe cells, as the basic building unit of organisms.

This helped in understanding human body and its metabolism in detail. (25/35)
Robert Koch establishing the Germ theory of diseases, Louis Pasteur coming up with Pasteurization, a hundred others coming up with vaccines later on would not have been possible without microscopes. (26/35)
So we saw how Murano became the Silicon valley leading to the invention of clear glass that led to emergence of spectacles after Printing press invention. This led to the invention of microscope, followed by telescope & the science of microbiology.

There's more to this. (27/35)
A physicist, Boys, experimented again with glass.
Instead of blowing air through pipe and expanding the glass, he tried placing liquified glass at the end of an arrow. And he shot the arrow.
This resulted in a very long, thin strand of glass that was stronger than steel. (28/35)
Dupont in 1920s mixed plastic with this glass strand, creating glass fibre that ultimately got picked up by the science of Optics to create what we call as the Optical fibre. (29/35)
The reason we hear someone talking from Madrid over phone instantly at Coimbatore, is because of these optic cables, laid across the ocean floors, connecting the world from underneath. (30/35)
The reason we have WiFi, the reason we get a reply to 'Do you see my screen now' questions during office meetings are all because of these optic fibre cables. (31/35)
Any small change in any of the events described above, we don't know how the world would have been shaped today.

We are tracing history here with glass being the protagonist! Who knows what other characters have interesting stories like these that we still don't know of! (32/35)
Steven Johnson in his documentary, has described how 6 innovations has changed the world till today. Glass is one among them.
You can read his book 'How we got to now' or you can watch the summary of it here (summary itself runs for an hour!)

Our behaviour today has changed because of COVID 19. We've got more anxious, fatigued, protective and preferentially empathetic.

Perhaps in 100yrs, someone might write how this pandemic has created a humming bird effect in shaping 2120. (if the world survives till then!) (34/35)
Phew that took too long to type. Thanks for reading this far.

Over and out. (35/35)
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