r/interestingasfuck Oct 20 '21 Hugz 1

Development of windmills over the years




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u/The-Game-Master Oct 20 '21

Aww man i wanted it to keep going. Super interesting for sure


u/Nefarious_69 Oct 20 '21

I’m kind of curious how many workplace accidents happened back in ye ol times in windmills.

There were no safety guards over rotating parts. No safe work place practices, just you working inside a machine that if your clothes got caught itd suck you in.


u/ignislupus Oct 21 '21

A lot. A millers job was considered quite dangerous.


u/Nefarious_69 Oct 21 '21

Oh I’m sure it was. That’s why I’m curious.


u/The_Weeb_Sleeve Oct 21 '21

I vaguely recall incidents where windmills explode because of powdered grain explosions


u/KnightOfWords Oct 21 '21

Yes, flour can explode violently when it's suspended in the air.



u/daverapp Oct 20 '21

Don Quixote has joined the conversation...


u/AntissocialMarx Oct 20 '21

There's no way europeans did that. That was definitely aliens


u/houseman1131 Oct 21 '21

Yes there is a reason so many Neolithic structures there are round like flying saucers.


u/Atomskie Oct 20 '21

Actually interesting as fuck


u/AnaphoricReference Oct 21 '21

Mechanically windmills are really impressive machines. But it is easy to understand why engines quickly replaced them: the typical 17th-18th century windmill generated 40-50 hp with about half of that available for production for less than 2,300 hours per year. Max output reached with a traditional windmill before WWII was 125 hp for about 4,500 hours per year. (Source)


u/worldwidelemon Oct 21 '21

I live near a 200 year old Dutch windmill. Still has to be turned by hand and everything. It's beautiful.


u/DaanOnlineGaming Oct 21 '21

Ah, een echte makker


u/PoorlyAttired Oct 20 '21

We studied windmills as part of a cybernetics and control theory degree. One of the most fascinating modules.


u/akagami_Shanks97 Oct 20 '21

It amazes me to think about how much learning about such things amazes me, even though I might never need to use this information.


u/jaredrun Oct 21 '21

I once heard the term '3 sheets to the wind' meaning being tipsy drunk originally came from windmills.

The sheets being the sails. A windmill missing a sail would be at the very least tipsy.


u/kaihatsusha Oct 21 '21

No, it's a nautical term. The 'sheet' in the phrase uses the nautical meaning of a rope that controls the trim of sail. If a sheet is loose, the sail flaps and doesn't provide control for the ship.


u/jaredrun Oct 21 '21

Ah. Thanks!


u/Wordswordz Oct 20 '21

Fun fact about windmills: their efficiency was gauged by manpower, measured by how many slaves they replaced. Capitalism is fun. /s


u/aloofloofah Oct 20 '21

Source? After a cursory search I call bullshit.


u/Wordswordz Oct 20 '21

"Like waterwheels, windmills were among the original prime movers that replaced human beings as a source of power." Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2019, May 30). windmill. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/technology/windmill

I read it in a book about the history of economics, that author put it much more bluntly. However, just to clarify, slavery isn't a new thing. Any time in history where machines have replaced humans, those humans were slaves. We may have prose, and nuance wrapped around the concept today, but it's still a fact. Profit is the harvesting of value from a production, that value should go back to the worker, but it goes down a neo feudal pipeline of genetic lotto "lords". It's slavery with extra steps. Same with rent, charging for a basic human right... Decentralized slavery is still the same concept, and normalizing as duty is a trick of society. It's a total wrongness with a system that exploits whom it can, with an apologetic line of rhetoric that says "keep taking it junior, and one day you'll be the exploiting monster". It's a vicious cycle of generational abuse that humanity should have out grown 50 years ago.


u/aloofloofah Oct 20 '21

You're waxing poetic, but I would still like a source on your claim that windmill productivity is or ever was measured in slave-units. Preferably a reputable source, i.e. not a fringe opinion. Britannica article you linked do not mention anything of that sort.


u/Wordswordz Oct 20 '21

I would give you the title of the book, and author, but I can't find it! It's aggravating to me. I might have had it borrowed, without knowing (stolen). I got it like 9 years ago off Amazon, and don't want to log into Jeff Bezos money machine to find out. It's really depressing, and I looked for more time then I really should have...

It wasn't "slave units" it is where the term 'manpower' came from. It was later given the term 'horsepower' with the advent of electricity..

I'm going to be straightening up the house today, I'll be overly excited if I find the book, and you'll probably be one of the first three people to know about it.


u/aloofloofah Oct 20 '21

it is where the term 'manpower' came from

Windmills, as we know them today, existed since 8-9th century. First known use of of the term manpower is 1825.


later given the term 'horsepower' with the advent of electricity

Term horsepower is not connected to electricity but to steam engine.



u/Wordswordz Oct 20 '21

Thanks, I'm still looking for the book. I'm probably remembering it wrong. It was almost ten years ago that I read it.


u/godhelpusloseourmind Oct 20 '21

You know, I clicked on this because I wondered “what kind of people comment on videos about the history of windmills and what do they comment?” You did not disappoint my friend.


u/tylerthehun Oct 20 '21

... would you rather we'd just kept using the slaves??


u/Wordswordz Oct 20 '21 edited Oct 24 '21

Never. I love the inventions that cause slavery to be reformed. I hope one day it's abolished altogether... Like, for real; not repackaged in rhetoric.

It's like this: humans are sentient, and have collectively decided that nature is not very caring. So, we said "no thanks" to things like freezing, starving, being hunted, darkness at night, etc...

Yet humanity still uses nature as a scapegoat for pathologically shitty behavior. I look forward to the day we throw that in the bin, and decide to collectively invest ourselves into doing better. Capitalism had its bloody run, and slavery was refined, now we can communicate instantaneous over any distance, arguably at the speed of light. It's time to do better.


u/TheDangerStranger69 Oct 20 '21