[ExI] we stand on the shoulders of giants

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Jul 3 19:42:28 UTC 2009


> ...On Behalf Of Brian Manning Delaney
> ...
> 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...

A bellows?  How would you make one?  We have trees, we have animal skins, we
have flat rocks, we have vague knowledge of how blacksmiths from a few
centuries ago might have made a bellows, but Q's people aren't there yet.

>... 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)... -Brian

By this I assume you mean slow the aging process by surviving the first few
months or years, until we develop some very basic survival skills, long
since forgotten, the knowledge distantly externalized.  Recall that metal is
a secondary technology, once we are successful at starting a fire, of which
we have no guarantee.  Metal is needed to shape wood to create bellows.  The
comment in itself is evidence that you are tacitly assuming basic survival,
which of course we all do.  We moderns depend on far more ancient technology
than we realize.

As a fun side note, consider an enabling companion species, a species that
perhaps allowed humankind to advance in some way.  If you were thinking
cows, pigs and chickens, recall that these are all modern technological
inventions, the product of centuries of selective breeding.  These will
eventually be a great help, but that will take a long time to breed up the
beasts we now have.

A much more important companion species would be wolves.  Reasoning: wolves
hunt, bring down game, eat some of it, then they can be driven off using
fire, and we have meat.  As with early humans, the best chance of survival
of Q's pre-iron human colony would be to take on a scavenger role.

When you hear the name Donald Johanson, perhaps you immediately think of the
discovery of the human fossil Lucy, but Johanson did some even more
important work later for which he is less well known.  Using a scanning
electron microscope to examine ancient bones, he showed that ancient people
ate meat that was apparently initally slain by lions.  That is a really
cools story in itself.  The lion tooth marks on the ancient bones can be
shown to have been made before the knapped flint butchery marks.  The early
humans waited for the lions to slay and devour part of the game, then
subsequently drove them away apparently using burning branches.

A friend who grew up in a missionary family in Africa commented that in some
places they still do that to this day.


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