One more phenomenon must he noted, which binds together the machine and the world of life in the neotechnic phase: namely, the respect for minute quantities, unnoticed or invisible before, sometimes below the threshold of consciousness: the part played by the precious alloys in metallurgy, by tiny quantities of energy in radio reception, by the hormones in the body, by the vitamines in the diet, by ultra-violet rays in growth, by the bacteria and filtrable viruses in disease. Not merely is importance in the neotechnic phase no longer symbolized by bulk, but the attention to small quantities leads by habituation to higher standards of refinement in every department of activity. Langley’s bolometer can distinguish one one-millionth of a degree centigrade, against the one one-thousandth possible on a mercury thermometer: the Tuckerman strain gauge can read millionths of an inch-the deflection of a brick when bent by the hand-while Bose’s high magnification crescograph records the rate of growth as slow as one one-hundred-thousandth of an inch per second. Subtlety, finesse, delicacy, respect for organic complexity and intricacy now characterize the entire range of scientific thought: this has grown in part out of refinements in technical methods, and in turn it has furthered them. The change is recorded in every part of man’s experience: from the increased weight placed by psychology upon hitherto unnoticed traumas to the replacement of the pure calory diet, based upon the energy content alone, by the balanced diet which includes even the infinitesimal amounts of iodine and copper that are needed for health. In a word, the quantitative and the mechanical have at last become life-sensitive. (Mumford 1934:254)
MUMFORD, Lewis. 1934. Technique and civilization. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.