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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Welcome to the Age of Discovery 2.0

00:00 19:50
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No decade transformed Western Civilization like the 1490s. Before then, Europe was a gloomy continent split into factions, ripe for conquest by the Islamic world. It had made no significant advances in science or literature for a century. But after a Spanish caravel named Nina returned to the Old World with news of a startling discovery, the dying embers of the West were fanned back to life. Shipbuilding began at a furious pace. Trade routes to Africa, India, and China quickly opened. At the same time, printing presses spread new ideas about science, religion, and technology across the continent. Literacy rates exploded. Because of the Age of Discovery, for the first time in generations, Europeans had hope in the future.
Today, an Age of Discovery 2.0 is upon us. With Elon Musk promising affordable rocket rides to the Moon and Mars within a decade, planetary bodies will be as accessible to humans as the New World was to adventurers in the 1500s.

How will the Age of Discovery 2.0 change our civilization the way the first one did five centuries ago?
To find the answers, History Unplugged is interviewing historians, scientists, and futurists who have spent decades researching this question. We will learn how:
•Spain’s 16th-century global empire was built on the spice trade (cinnamon was worth more than gold) and those same economics will lead to Mars colonization (its stockpiles of deuterium are a key ingredient for cheap fusion power
•How slavery was a conscious choice in the American colonies (Virginia embraced it while Puritan New England rejected it) and how the same choices on human rights could make the future a libertarian paradise or a neo-feudal dystopia
•How the East India Company’s control over India foreshadows SpaceX’s control over Mars and what happens when a corporation effectively controls a nation (or in this case, a planet).
•The labor shortage – and lack of regulation – in off-world colonies will lead to incredible innovation, as did the lack of workers and government restriction in colonial America drove the rise of “Yankee ingenuity’s” wave of inventions.
November 02, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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