[ExI] we stand on the shoulders of giants

Brian Manning Delaney listsb at infinitefaculty.org
Fri Jul 3 17:47:38 UTC 2009

Very cool thought experiment! I used to daydream about this as a lad.

spike skrev:
>> ...On Behalf Of 
>> Bryan Bishop
> ...
>>> Do you have any guess how the first humans melted iron?  
>>> Don't google 
>>> on it, think, how would YOU do it?

>> How did they find iron?  ... - Bryan
> We don't know how (great)^n grandma did it, but I would look for some orange
> soil, assuming that is iron oxide or some kind of metallic ore.  OK found
> it.  Now what?

I think a huge part of our early progress came from a basic "let's 
increase it!!" attitude, where "it" is, say, the size of a fire, or the 
force with which a rock is struck, or the distance one ventures out away 
from home.

"Cool! Fire! Let's make it bigger, REALLY big!" -- I think that might be 
how metals were discovered (qua substances that could be melted, would 
harden, and retain their new shape). (It might also have been the result 
of an inspection of the results of an accidental fire.) Some rocks, or 
parts of rocks, near the huge, hot fire melted more easily than others. 
(And eventually someone built a fire in a large indent in a cliff wall, 
the wind blew hard, the fire roared, and someone said "Let's figure out 
how to blow on the fire -- even harder than the wind!") People who had 
ventured far from home might then say "Hey, I saw rocks in a cave in the 
valley across the way that look like that one that melted quickly," etc.

On the new planet, if I were in charge of metal, I'd look around for 
rocks that seemed to have metallic strips in them (all this is 
pre-Google guessing), and put them in a some kind of fireplace with a 
bellows, and some way to catch the melting metal. But mostly I'd be 
trying to slow the aging process so that we would live long enough to 
reach the level of, say, the ancient Greeks (easily doable, I think).


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