Brain Expansion : learning to use it (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Friday, May 15, 2020, 16:17 (15 days ago) @ David Turell

Only recent sapiens had wheels. Why didn't it appear earlier? An example of an idea just like spears:

"Hundreds of thousands of years before the invention of the wheel, some unlucky hominin stepped on a loose rock or unstable log and—just before they cracked their skull—discovered that a round object reduces friction with the ground.

"The inevitability of this moment of clarity explains the ancient ubiquity of rollers, which are simply logs put underneath heavy objects. The Egyptians and the Mesopotamians used them to build their pyramids and roll their heavy equipment, and the Polynesians to move the stone moai statues on Easter Island. But rollers aren’t terribly efficient, because they have to be replaced as they roll forward, and even if they’re pinned underneath, friction makes them horribly difficult to move. The solution—and the stroke of brilliance—was the axle. Yet despite the roller’s antiquity, it doesn’t appear that anyone, anywhere, discovered the wheel and axle until an ingenious potter approximately 6,000 years ago.

"The oldest axle ever discovered is not on a wagon or cart, but instead on a potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia. These may seem like simple machines, but they’re the first evidence that anyone anywhere recognized the center of a spinning disk is stationary and used it to their mechanical advantage. It’s a completely ingenious observation and so novel that it’s unclear where the idea came from—perhaps from a bead spinning on string?—as it has no obvious corollary in nature. The pole is called an axle, and many scholars consider it the greatest mechanical insight in the history of humankind.


"The full wheel set appears to have first been invented by a mother or father potter, because the world’s oldest axles are made of clay, are about two inches long, and sit beneath rolling animal figurines.

"The first wheeled vehicle, in other words, was a toy.

"In July 1880, the archaeologist Désiré Charnay discovered the first pre‑Columbian wheel set in the Americas. It was on a small coyote figure mounted on four wheels, and Charnay found it in the tomb of an Aztec child buried south of Mexico City.


"The full‑size wagon first appeared approximately 5,400 years ago, and it may be one of the the first inventions in history to go viral. Archaeologists have discovered full‑size carts from southern Iraq to Germany within a few hundred years of each other at a time when cultural barriers were particularly impermeable. The wagon, it seems, was irresistibly useful.


"Because the two oldest wheels archaeologists have found vary significantly in design—one has an axle fixed to the wheel as it does on a modern train, the other spins freely on the axle like on a modern car—Anthony suggests that at least some wagon builders copied what they saw from afar without being able to inspect it closely.

"The first and most critical component of the wheel, writes Steven Vogel, author of Why the Wheel Is Round, is the fit with the axle. Too tight and the wagon is hopelessly inefficient, too loose and the wheel wobbles and breaks apart.


"Then there would have been the matter of the wheel itself, which is a deceivingly complex device. If Kay had cut a fallen tree salami‑style for his wheel, it would have quickly failed. The problem, according to Vogel, is the direction of the grain, which in a salami‑style slice of wood cannot support weight on its edge. Under strain, it would quickly deform. Kay’s solution—as is evident from early wheel design—was to build a composite wheel out of multiple vertically cut planks. Kay would have had to carefully dowel these cuts together, and then shape them into a perfectly round wheel." (Kay is the author's inventor)

Comment: This shows a series of observations that finally led to a usable wheel, but using our brain to think and conceive. Our brain did not enlarge from this strenuous effort. It shrunk. Our evolved brain came from previous ancient brains an should reflect what they did as a result of thought, develop slightly complex neuronal networks with small regions of enlargement. Logical involving no new theory.

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