If you examine the entire timeline of scientific advancement, just about every development that makes your daily life complete (i.e. YouTube and Hot Pockets) seems to be crammed into a tiny smidgen at the very end of it. Modern society invented everything great, and the rest of history is just a bunch of chumps squatting in holes. The thing is, some of that seemingly recent stuff has been around a lot longer than you'd figure, like ...
5Guns Are So Old, Even Medieval Demons Were Trigger-Happy Bastards
Check out the illustration below. It has all the stuff we associate with the Middle Ages: peasants, feudal castles, a holy war between angels and rifle-toting demons, and- ... wait, what?
Johann Amerbach, via io9.com
For the gun-wielding devil, look to the lower right.
For the angel who's about to get his shit wrecked, just follow the line of the barrel.
We assure you this isn't pulled from somebody's DeviantArt portfolio -- it's an honest-to-goodness 15th-century woodcut scene from St. Augustine's City of God.
Johann Amerbach, via io9.com
It's a city of God and Halo villains, apparently.
The use of incendiary devices in warfare has been recorded as far back as the year 904 in China. That's right: people were shooting at each other before the Western calendar even reached quadruple digits. Chinese artists also loved hiding gat-packing demons in their artwork, like the one at the top-right corner of this 10th-century illustration, trying to bust a cap in the Buddha.
The only "enlightenment" here is that snake-headed dude "en-lighting" your ass up.
No one knows exactly how firearm technology found its way to the West from China, but by the 14th century, guns were so well-known throughout Europe that we'd be astounded if horse-by shootings weren't a daily fear.
Alphonso de Spina
Look at his face: the demon on the left is just realizing he brought a crowbar to a gun fight.
So, why don't portraits of old-timey knights look like N.W.A. album covers? Well, it turns out that the use of gunpowder in battle just wasn't very efficient, which is why guns coexisted with other weapons in battle for hundreds of years, rather than overtaking them. But any and all efficiencies aside, you cannot deny the badassness of a medieval skeleton wielding a bazooka.
Sadly, being conceived in the 1400s meant this image ended up as a fresco instead
of the heavy-metal album cover it was destined to be.
4Eyeglasses Have Been Around Since at Least the 13th Century
Quick: who invented eyeglasses? You just shouted, "Benjamin Franklin!" Now the whole bus is looking at you funny. Seriously, learn to manage your impulse control. But while it's true that ol' Poony Ben is generally credited with the invention of bifocals, eyeglasses in general existed four centuries before he ever (questionably) flew history's most ill-advised kite.
Above: Proof that eyeglasses existed in the medieval period,
or proof that Benjamin Franklin was a time traveler.
One of the earliest-known mentions of using eyeglasses to improve vision was made by English friar Roger Bacon, who outlined the theory of corrective lenses in his Opus Majus way back in 1266. And, while it's not clear if Bacon ever took his theories beyond the written page, it is pretty clear that Alessandro di Spina (another friar, this one from Pisa) did: in 1305, Giordano da Rivalto, yet another friar from Pisa, praised the existence of spectacles, which he said had been invented "not yet 20 years" before.
Georges de La Tour
"And not a week later those motherfuckers started charging extra for 'lens coating.'"
Spectacles slowly made their way from the West to the Far East. Inventors of the 16th century eventually improved on the design by adding loops of cord to strap around your ears and hold them firmly in place, which made you look like the airship pilot that all the other steampunks picked on.
Judging from his face, they were playing keep-away with his blunderbuss
while that portrait was in progress.