Gary Larson, Potter, Thirteen Time Magazine discussed on Stuff To Blow Your Mind


Everyone welcome to invention. My Name's Robert Lamp and I'm Jim McCormick and just a heads up. This is going to be part one of a two part episode because we get going on wheels and we can't stop robbed. I thought today we should start with Some poll results. Are you ready to consult the masses with me? Nothing's more exciting than starting with poll results. Okay so in in two thousand Thirteen Time magazine and qualcomm. They partnered to do a survey they pulled more than ten thousand people across seventeen countries to find out some views about invention inventiveness. And there's some interesting questions here. We might want to come back to in the future about public opinion about how invention happens but They asked people to rank as one of the questions here. What are the most important inventions of all time and three gut singled out in the results? You had the Internet all right. You know it's a great invention a terrible invention is the voldemort of adventurous. Okay yeah is like Odin. It's wise intricacy. It's great and terrible. Yeah I've been bet that's all in vengeance. Really and he kind of he kind of Fabulous new technology is gonNA bring At least equal portions of both I got. The second one is electricity. I'd say that's a really good qualifier. That should be near the top. Yeah then. The third one singled out as the most important is the wheel now. These three are all strike me as very different because illiteracy is not a technology. We invented the technology to utilize electricity and to harness its power and likewise is we'll discuss similar with the wheel the Internet. We're still trying to figure out how to actually sit and keep it from you know shocking us. Yeah there is no Internet in nature. Is there no and people might say? There are no wheels in nature though you could make an argument either way on that and we'll come back to that in a minute but it's true that people really do often single out. The wheel has like the most important invention in history right. It's it's all the Gary Larson cartoons for a reason. No yeah they're they're at least they're they're probably more than two. But I ran across. At least two Gary Larson cartoons about Cavemen inventing the wheel trying to invent the wheel. Generally getting something drastically long wrong like row like writing strapped to the outside of it to go down the hill. There's so many there's so many bits of fiction that have explored the idea of inventing a reinventing the wheel The the Hulu show future man recently explored this with a time traveler. Going to post apocalyptic future and in in having a job in this primitive society as a wheel maker and so he keeps trying to improve upon the design and is catching on fire. They're they're they're falling over until he finally gets design right. Well Yeah I love how? It's it's this cliche that it's the quintessential example of like an already perfected technology. That you don't need to mess with any more right like the cliche is. Let's not reinvent the wheel meaning. Let's not waste time overthinking something right sort of equivalent to if it ain't broke. Don't fix it though. I think this is ironic. Given what we're GONNA talk about in today's episode because throughout history the wheel has undergone lots of reinventions in refinements that. Make it work better or adapt it to a particular us. Let's not reinvent. The wheel is actually a really stupid saying we're constantly reinventing the wheel and we're much better off for those reinventions like in this episode. We're not even going to really get into the tire all that much but certainly the next time you need a new tire for your vehicle. Just go to the mechanic and ask for a wheel. Give me one of those wheels. Says it hasn't been improved upon since the medieval or or Prehistoric Times right. Just just are we on there. I don't care what how what kind of just put it on. Their stone would doesn't matter well. This brings up a really good point that we should make the beginning a caveat that we must raise while the wheel is in a way a simple machine. It's simple in principle. The history of the wheel is a vast complex subject full of questions that aren't yet and may never be answered or solved Like where and win the wheel was truly I invented the. We'll talk about some ideas about that today. there's just obviously not a chance. We can do justice to the entire history of the wheel in a single episode. So I think today we're going to have to consider this sort of a first foray trying to cover some of the basics interesting observations or things that seemed interesting to us and leave ourselves the opportunity to come back and visit more of the particulars from the invention history of wheel technology in the future. For example as you say about tires you know We we wouldn't have the wheeled vehicles we have today without tires and that's just something that we didn't even get into now. Typically consider wheels again the product of human ingenuity alone yet the basic form pops up in nature as well and not only in the form of creatures that can curl up into productive. Balls what's your favorite creature that curls up into a protective ball? I mean sonic the Hedgehog. Actually there are. There are a few that come to mind. I'll get to get to one in a second. Okay one animal. We do have to focus in a certainly the The rotor for the microscopic aquatic animal. Whose very name is Latin for wheel bearer. Okay so does it have wheels. Does it roll around in? Hunker stopping world. Not exactly but it's the name is a reference to the crown of Silia around the rotor first mouth which move rapidly to eight locomotion and feeding but contrary to its name. They don't they themselves. Don't actually rotate. So it's more kind of like circle bearer. Yeah now you do have creatures like the Mount Lyell Salamander and the mother of Pearl Caterpillar. Both of which curl their bodies into hoop type the forms and the little ball like forms and can roll away from threats in their hilly environments. Yeah likewise the Robert of you ever seen video of the wheel spider who? I don't think I have no. This is really cool. The it shows up in some documentaries so it's a spider that's native to the Namib Desert and the Wheel Spider. Is the ground walking spider? Obviously it's in the desert. It's a huntsman spider. It's not a web spinner But it burrows down in the sand dunes of the desert and it has a mortal enemy a parasitic wasp. Now even if you don't like spiders If you don't know much about parasitic wasps watching what a parasitic wasp does to a spider can be. This is worse than any horror. Movie is like the most horrifying thing and leave your sympathizing with the spider team spider. Which I guess you are Joe. I guess I am. You're you're into just like putting an egg on something that ends up eating that thing. I know your general proclivities. I'm on team wasp whenever it's wasp versus spider if it's spider versus pretty much anything else. I'm team spider. Well I guess that's the other way to think about it that the wasp is a miracle of nature that is really awesome So yes so. The parasitic wasp lays an egg on the spider. After paralyzing the spider than the egg hatches. The larva can eat the spider at leisure sometimes. Sort of from the inside out So when a wasp attacks obviously the spider is desperate to escape. It doesn't WanNa get paralyzed and eaten by Larva But it can't crawl across the dunes fast enough to get away from the wasp. So what does it do if it can the wheel spider cart wheels down? A Sand Dune rolling way high speed to escape becoming a host. And I've read that. It can travel it like more than forty revolutions per second. That's awesome and again this is. This is dependent though upon a hilly environment you know. Some sort of Slope Down which it may roll. Yeah and the spider being near the top when it gets tax right like if it's at the bottom when it gets attacked no dice but of course. These rolling animals in a way are not true wheels in technological since because when humans use wheels. What's crucial is that? The wheel is paired with an axle. And that the wheel axle together provide continuous rotational force. That can be used to move a fixed body. So it's not just a wheel rolling by itself right with Gary Larson cartoon taped to the outside of around stone rolling down a hill so the question is is there anything more like a true wheel in the natural world. Were something rotates around fixed body to move it. I mean there's nothing quite like a wheel In nature but there is a rare example of a similar movement that takes place and that's with bacterial jehlum structure found species such as E. coli the full jehlum essentially amounts to a long helix. Screw that rotates to propel the bacterium through its environment much like a boat's propeller propeller isn't pretty much a wheel. I would say yeah. Yeah depends on the same sort of movement now. Of course lots of things in the natural world that are not alive also role. Oh Yeah I mean. Snowballs GonNa Roll Downhill get bigger. Pedals are going to roll. So these are certainly examples. That early people would have been in in various cases had had access to they could have seen in action and seeing what rolling consists off but another one we often forget about is the rolling world of poop. Oh Yeah Yeah I mean consider for instance that the near constant poops of the goat are essentially self hiding rolling away from these hill. Roamers which gives them an advantage against Stalking predators with a nose for their scent and then on the other end of the spectrum. You have the poop combat. That is that is more cubicle in shape and one of the theories here is that since their poop isn't essential calling card for other members of their species like essential for territory mating and so forth With the WOMBAT IT. It pays for these poops to not roll away. Hide themselves and thus they have this kind of cubicle structure to them and then ended in addition to poop various Seeds and fruit is. Well certainly roll away. After they have fallen and outside of the actual movement of rolling we should also note that the basic form of the wheel is but what a circle a disk and one needs only glimpse the sun or the Moon in the sky or sea various other circular forms in nature to grasp the idea of if not a disc in enrolling motion than at least a disc. It's not it it it. It's it's central. Shape can be found of fairly easily in the natural world. Absolutely now one of the things I think we have to also acknowledge up front. Is that when people say that the wheel is like the most important invention of all time? I think what they're usually thinking of is the wheel for transportation but we should also acknowledge that like the wheel is like way bigger than just transportation applications right even in technology. Are you saying like they could be a complete psychopath in there? Like all the breaking wheel obvious. No greatest tune invention. How did we ever strap people down and break all their limbs before that. That is no. They're missing out on that. But no I was thinking more of We like the milling wheel. Potter's we I mean these. These are incredibly important inventions. But I think they're not usually what people have in mind when they think of the wheel right says we're not going to really explore the like Milling Wheel. Potter's wheel in this episode. But just to give everybody a an idea of the timeframe we're talking about here. The Potter's wheel was common in Mesopotamia in the Near East from thirty five hundred.

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