the long habit of invention

After initially stumbling on clumpier-than-expected Martian soil, the Phoenix lander has successfully revised its soil-delivery methods to fit the conditions on the ground, so its research can continue.

What’s awe-inspiring about that (aside from the fact that we have robots smart enough to fly to Mars, navigate the atmosphere to land properly, explore the surface, conduct research, and adjust to conditions as necessary!) is that it’s so typical of us. Trial and error. Experimentation. We’ve always done it.

Apparently (and not surprisingly) there is now evidence that Early Humans Experimented To Get Bow And Arrow Just Right” in a fairly systematic way. Not surprising, but amazing.

Even with the benefit of thousands of years of math and thought and recorded language already developed by others, it is still truly impressive that people invent computers and spacecraft and techniques for performing brain surgery on wide awake patients.

In some ways, though, it’s even more incredible that someone invented that first spear. Someone figured out you can make stuff. Someone had the bright idea that burning the meat makes it easier to chew! Someone (much later, but still pretty awesome for its time) thought: lets break open each grain of wheat, scrape out the stuff, pulverize it, mix it with water, and then shape it into some form — maybe similar to how it looked in its husk in the first place!

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