More often than not, the word ladder is used as a rhetorical device, when referring to or narrating an uphill journey to reach the pinnacle of success. We often encounter phrases like, “climbing the ladder of success,” “corporate ladder,” “political ladder,” and “social ladder” to idiomatically describe a quest that requires working one’s way to the top in a linear manner.
Why ladder and not stairs or steps? The idea is to use metaphor that is more related to slow upward movement, while maintaining a strong foothold on a step that is characteristically narrow. Maintaining balance or equilibrium on every level is important, as critical missteps can adversely affect one’s chances of making it to the top.
The same is true when trying to physically reach the top by way of a ladder. The latter, being a standalone equipment, requires several factors such as normal force, frictional force, gravitational force, wall-to-ladder angle, and the torque produced when all forces are at work. However, such forces must achieve a state of equilibrium to make sure the contraption will not slip or topple.
Origin of Ladders
The interesting thing about ladders is that the earliest period in which they were invented is as far back as 10,000 years ago. Paintings discovered in the mesolithic rocks of the Spider Cave in Valencia, Spain provided evidence that flexible ladders, seemingly constructed with some kind of grass, were already in use as means of accessing honey bee nests.
Still, not a few researchers believe that ladders with more functional designs came around during biblical times, in which ancient Egyptians and Hebrews developed and perfected ladders into what most of us use today.
Modern-Day Ladders: Forms and Uses
Modern-day ladders come in many forms, and are now commonly self-supporting; not requiring a wall or hard solid surface on which a force acts upon to create leverage. Most households keep a ladder handy in case they need to do chores that involve reaching or accessing something way above the head. Painters, carpenters, installers, as well as artists working on murals prefer ladders to scaffoldings, being a safer alternative to makeshift contraptions.
The advent of different home designs, installable devices and equipment, including the latest outdoor innovation, above-ground swimming pools, has made ladder use quite important. Dependent on the nature and purpose with which ladders are used, a ladder may be single or double-sided, may include a top deck, built with steps instead of rungs, or a combination of steps on one side and rungs on the other side. Materials also vary, ranging from wood, metal, aluminum or plastic.