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Covering the period from 700 to 1970, Pacey contrasts innovations based on critical survival needs with high technologies symbolizing the values of major civilizations. Examples include the Chinese gunpowder that provoked a more formida ble cannon in Europe, Indian textile techniques that spurred the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and transistors from the U.S. that stimulated new kinds of consumer products in Japan. In m any cases, Pacey notes, technology is less the result of a direct transfer than of the diffusion of stimuli. Even "amere rumor of an unfamiliar technique" could produce new ways to achieve similar results.
Arnold Pacey is a physicist turned historian whose publications have contributed to the British appropriate technology movement. He has written widely on science, technology, and agriculture. His previous books include The Maze of Ingenuity and The Culture of Technology.