1) Simple machines historical Investigation

  1. Brief introduction of the six simple machines

Simple machines are things that we can’t live without. What are simple machines? Well, to be specific they are tools that make our “work” easier. Now, this is not any kind of work but a special type of work. For example, a student might think that doing homework is work. They might say, “Phew we had to do so much work today.” But scientifically, is this actually “work”? Work is defined as when you move an object using force for a certain distance. Work is measured in Joules and it can be calculated by using a formula which is Distance (m) x Force (Newtons). But now that we have found out about work, let’s talk about the different simple machines that are used to make this “work” easier.



First, let us talk about the inclined plane. The inclined plane looks like the following picture.

It is a slanted plane that is used to drag things up from it. The basics of the inclined plane are that if we say that the plane is steep it means that the slope is steep as well and vise versa. The slope is measured by Rise over run (rise/run), which is basically dividing the height and the width of the triangle. The angle of incline is also noted in the picture with an oval shape with a line in the middle. This in scientific terms is called theta, which is the name for an unknown angle. The rule for the inclined plane is if theta gets bigger the slope becomes steeper and if theta gets smaller the opposite happens.


There are a lot of ways that the inclined plane is used in our everyday life. For example, the slanted floor next to the stairs for people with wheel chairs are incline planes. If the citizens with wheel chairs would go down the stairs, it would make a hard time for them. That is why people made an inclined plane so that they can go down them smoothly. Another example of an inclined plane is found when you move in to another house. The huge trucks use inclined planes to take in or out the items inside the truck so that they do not have to life them one by one.




The second simple machine that I am going to introduce is the Lever. The lever is used to lift somethingmore easier using work. A lever has three parts to it. First there is a Fulcrum,which is the support and where the lever moves. The effort force is the second, which is measured in newtons. Lastly there is something called the resistance force which is the object in which you are trying to lift. There are some specific names for the distances as well. The name from the item to the fulcrum is the resistance arm and from the effort force to the fulcrum is called the effort arm.


In the world of levers, there are three types, the first class, the second class, and the third class lever. The first class lever is the typical lever that we see everyday, for example, a seesaw. This means the there is force and an item on either side of the fulcrum. Some examples of class one levers are scissors and pliers. The second-class lever is when the effort and the item are on one side of the fulcrum but the effort force is more on the outside. Some examples of this are the wheelbarrow, which gains force. The third class lever is the opposite of the second-class lever so the item is more on the outside and they lose force, but the speed and distance are increasing. A good example of this is the tweezer. To sum it up levers are used to move items easier and this can be decided on which element you want easier, force or distance and speed.


yyThe third simple machine that I am going to introduce is the wedge. Simply the wedge is a type of inclined plane but with more force. The wedge is used to cut, break, or keep things in place. But the pull back for the wedge is that you either need to put more force or the wedge needs to be bigger for there to be a bigger cut.


We can see a lot of wedges used today such as an axe. An axe is a sharp wedge. One can see that it is a wedge by looking at the way people use axes to cut through wood. However, The machine part of this is that there needs to be force implied. Another example of a wedge that we can see in our lives is a door holder. Sometimes doors move all about and we want to keep it still. This is when we use door wedges so that the door doesn’t move.


yyyThe fourth simple machine is the wheel and axle. To make this simple machine work you need the wheel and axle together. The smaller wheel should be in the middle of the bigger one. The thing about the wheel and axel is that as one of them moves, the big one controls the smaller one. This way you can use less force to move two different objects. A developed version of the wheel and axle is the gear. The gear is the same as the wheel except there are teeth on it.


We can see the wheel and axle in different parts of our lives. We can see them in cars and roller blades. One can see that the similarity between these two is that they are both items that move by the wheel.


yyyyThe fifth simple machine is the Pulley. The pulley is similar and has evolved from the wheel and axle. A pulley helps people move things a certain distance up. There are three kinds of pulleys. First of all, there is the simple pulley that is the basics of all pulleys. This changes only the route of the power but nothing else. Second there is the movable pulley that gains force. Lastly there is the compound pulley that is the mix of the two.

There are a lot of ways that pulleys can be used. For example a flagpole is an item that uses the pulley. As you full the string, the flag that is attached goes up. Another example is a blind that works the same way as the flagpole.


yyyyyThe last simple machine is the screw. The screw has different parts are there are two major parts. The whole screw is called the body and the spiral part is called the thread. One can see that the nail is very similar to a spiral staircase because it keeps on going down while wrapping the nail. You can use the screw to drill things together or to keep things so that they don’t move.


Some specific examples where screws are used are that they are used to keep items together. For example, you can stick together a table with screws so that you don’t have to use glue or tape that can break easily.


This is a video to sum up the simple machines:


  1. Choose one of the simple machines; complete an historic investigation of the machine

In the world today, we can see a lot of the six simple machines being used, but how about in history? I am going to talk about one simple machine that we can’t live without. It is the Inclined Plane.

yyyyyyyyyyyyyyLet us start with the beginning of inclined planes. A person named Archimedes in the 2nd century BC first discovered the inclined plane. Archimedes is a Mathematician and Scientist from Greece. Archimedes has discovered a lot of things such as one of the simple machines, the screw. However this screw wasn’t the screw that we know of today, it was a screw that was used to transport water. He is also immensely famous for his math. For example, he discovered Pi and he also discovered the triangle. It is no surprise that the incline plane is not one of his major discoveries. It is shown that Archimedes had planted the seed for the discovery for the incline plane and another mathematician carried it on. His name is Hero of Alexandria. Hero of Alexandria was also a mathematician like Archimedes but he was more of a Geometer. If Archimedes was the one that planted the seed it was Heron who actually watered it and developed it. It is said that Heron developed it in 1 ce. He also was from Alexandria, Egypt. This explains some of the reasons the Egyptians have used the incline plane. But in this time it is shown that a lot of scientists didn’t find that the inclined plane was a simple machine because it could be found in the natural environment and it was not something that was specifically made like the pulley.

yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyAs I mentioned the Egyptians have used the inclined plane. As one will think, the first things that people think of when they think of Egyptian history are pyramids. A lot of historians have wondered how people from such a long time ago have built the pyramid made up of 80-ton blocks with no technology like we have now. Most of the historians have turned to simple machines as their answer. Like seen above, historians predict that when the Egyptians built the pyramid they needed different planes with different slopes to build their pyramid. When they are building the bottom parts one can clearly see that they would need an incline plane with the softer slope. As you can see in the picture, as the pyramid gets higher, the slope of the incline plane becomes steeper so that they can reach to the top. The picture below is another example of how historians predict that the Egyptians built the pyramid. One can predict that the Egyptians might have used a much more long inclined plane for the higher parts if they had used the example below.


Not only have the Egyptians used the inclined plane to use build and create the Stonehenge. The Syyyyyyyyyyytonehenge is located in England. The Stonehenge is still a mystery today and archeologists wonder about how people from 2000BC- 3000BC have built this with absolute no technology at all. Again, they have turned to the conclusion of simple machines and one of them being the incline plane. In the book by James Easton called Conjectures on the Mysterious Monument of Ancient Art, Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, He mentions that the people who built the Stonehenge must have used the earth has an incline plane to roll up the stone pieces to build it. With the two examples of the Pyramid and the Stonehenge we can tell that the incline plane helped people a long time right up until now.


yyyyyyyyyyyyAlthough the incline plane have helped us a lot throughout history, scientists and mathematicians had a lot of thoughts on whether the incline plane should be on the list with the five other simple machines. One reason why they disagreed with the incline plane being a simple machine was because one can find it easily in the natural environment such as the mountain or the hill. A man named Jordanus de Nemore wrote the first right definition and inquiry of the incline plane in the renaissance. However, no one at that time believed him. But after near the end of the sixteenth century, Galileo Galilee posted the correct solutions. Now that people had acknowledged incline planes they started using it more. We can see this by the use of canals. For people who don’t know what canals are they are basically roads on water for the boats. Incline planes were used to raise boats. In the renaissance times this was used in the Wagon of Zafosina, which is near Venice. It was not until the Industrial Revolution that the inclined plane was widely used for the canal.


In the Industrial Revolution, a lot of canals were built and one of the famous ones is the Ketley Canal which was built in 1788. This was the first inclined plane built in Britain. However this was not the first try. They have tried once on the Dulart’s Canal but it had not worked. “Our Inclined Plane answers my most sanguine expectations… we have already let down more than forty boats per day each carrying 8 tons- in average about thirty boats daily and have not yet had an accident.” This is an excerpt from a letter from William Reynolds to James Watt, a fellow engineer. One can clearly see from before, the usage of the inclined plane has changed.

yyyyyyyyyyyyyIf we look around, we are bound to find an inclined plane and for international students like us, we ride the airplane a lot and one everyday inclined plane in an airplane is an evacuation slide. Before I talk about the specifics I find it important that people know the exact definition of the evacuation slide. An evacuation slide is an inflatable slide that is used so that passengers can fee the aircraft in case of an emergency. The evacuation slide was first invented by Air cruisers that is a company by James Boyle. Before there were inflatable evacuation slides they used to have ones that were made out of a canvas material. A lot of aircrafts stopped using it when they realized that the crew had a hard time setting it up and they figured out it would be dangerous for the passengers if it took a long time. Because there were too many accidents, in 1965 a pioneer named Jack Grant made the first inflatable slide. Although some aircrafts use the canvas slides, about 65% use the inflatable slides.


Now that we have discussed about how the inclined plane has benefited us, but what would happen if we didn’t have inclined planes? What would change in our lives? Some might think that this would not be a big deal but without inclined planes we might not have all of the items and buildings. Some things that we might not have because of inclined plane are some famous monuments. For example, as mentioned before, the archeologists predict that the pyramid and the Stonehenge were built using inclined planes. One might think, “What importance do these monuments have? Aren’t they buildings that were built?” But this is not the right way of thinking. Pyramids and the Stonehenge are used to depict the history of the country, for the Pyramids, it is Egypt and for the Stonehenge, it is England. Using these monuments we can find out a lot of things from the past. For example, from the pyramids, we can find out that the citizens of Egypt found the kings superior and they showed their loyalty by burying them in a big monument. For the Stonehenge it was found out that it was used for a burial site. The archeologists therefore predict that even at 2000BC to 3000BC, they buried their ancestors. Like this if we didn’t have inclined planes, they would not have built the pyramid or the Stonehenge. Therefore, we might have not known the history as much as now. Also it’s not just the pyramid and the Stonehenge, there are other monuments that are made out of inclined planes. Because we have these things we can know more about the history although it was a long time ago.


yyyyyyyyyyyyyyInclined planes have affected the world positively as mentioned before. However, there are not only positive ways that inclined planes have affected us. There are not a lot of manmade negative effects but there are some natural inclined planes that affect us. For example, there are landslides. Before we go in to depth, let us find out what landslides are. Landslides are a type of natural disaster when rocks mud go down a hill or a mountain. There are a lot of incidents when Landslides affected humans negatively. Usually earthquakes cause landslides. An example of a landslide that happened is a landslide in Uganda. In 2012 there was a major landslide that happened. It is shown that there might be over 70 people waiting to be rescued inside the mud. Also eighteen people were reported to be dead. Like this, landslides can create a very deadly situation.

This is a news of one landslide that happened in Washington:

From this, we can tell that inclined planes are dangerous. She mentions in the video that thankfully no one was hurt but it damaged a lot of land.

Overall, we can see that the inclined planes have a lot of history and they are very important in our life.