First Arms Race (02:58)
With settlement came the need to protect property from other people. Hunting and farming tools became weapons. Spears and bows and arrows allowed the user to strike from a safer distance; the challenge became accuracy and range.
Battle of Megiddo (02:08)
In 1457 B.C., warlords threatened an Egyptian pharaoh's empire. He combined chariots with archers to increase speed and range, defeating his enemies with the new weapon.
Qin Crossbow (02:38)
China was in turmoil in 300 B.C. A Qin general redesigned the bow and arrow for greater range, accuracy, and use by untrained soldiers—inventing mass production in the process. Its success unified China.
In 1365, Mongol invaders ruled China. Imperial alchemists had discovered "fire medicine;" engineers found it could launch small stones from metal barrels at high speed. With it, the Chinese defeated horseback archers and regained independence.
Constantinople residents prepared for a siege by the Turks in 1453. Turkish cannons broke through thirteen feet thick city walls after 53 days—rendering them useless. After that, wars were waged at increasing distances and cities spread outward.
Discovering Penicillin (03:00)
In France in 1916, Dr. Alexander Fleming began researching how to limit bacteria and prevent unnecessary deaths among wounded soldiers. He found a mold that secreted an anti-bacterial substance—revolutionizing medicine and saving an estimated 200 million lives.
Atomic Bomb (03:29)
During World War II, American scientists developed a weapon threatening humanity's existence. It destroyed Hiroshima and forced Japan to surrender, yet nuclear weapons have prevented further world wars. View a summary of the arms race throughout human history. (Credits)
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