I don’t know what it is but sometimes I can get obsessed with knowing the origin of things. Like this morning: out of nowhere I wondered, “Who was the guy who decided that it was going to be OK to drink the milk of a lactating cow?  Think about it: some time long ago, I assume, someone saw a cow, or one of our modern-day cow’s ancestors, feeding its calf and decided, “Hmmm, I think that the nourishment meant for a young cow would be something might like.”

I was on a roll. “And what about eggs?” I asked my long-suffering wife. “Who had the bright idea that the unfertilized egg of a bird would be something good to eat? A bird!

Later, while driving to work, the thought came to me: What if early man had spied a fox feeding milk to its young instead of a cow? Would we have farms today with herds of foxes instead of cows? Why is cow milk OK while the thought of drinking fox milk is ugh?

And those eggs: how many people got sick eating raw eggs, as perhaps they saw snakes doing (and, of course, we always want to do what snakes are doing!) before they thought about heating and cooking them and then eating them? And how did the first scrambled egg come about? Was it due to a clumsy caveman who accidentally discovered that his messed-up egg also actually tasted quite good?

Now, experimenting with living things 10,000 years ago was probably not that hard to do (people in those days had time on their hands…). Could anyone tinker around at home today and come up with… a smart phone? My question is: Has technology gotten so refined that only a few know how to recreate things or improve on them? Could we imagine an apocalyptic future where people make shrines to no-longer-working smart phones?

Do you know how radio transmission was invented? I read recently about how only  through painstaking trial and error did Gugielmo Marconi gradually develop a successful version of radio transmission. Thousand and thousand of hours went into this work. His efforts may have been inspired and accidents might have helped along the way but it was a terribly difficult effort moving from one level to the next. Does human evolution have to be so difficult?

Who first thought of taking the seeds of a plant and grinding them, thus making flour, the main ingredient of bread? How many plants were tried before the grains that would successfully make good flour were discovered? What urged early man (6,000 B.C.) to try these experiments?

Read this from Wikipedia regarding the origin of cheese:

Since animal skins and inflated internal organs have, since ancient times, provided storage vessels for a range of foodstuffs, it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting in the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach. There is a legend – with variations – about the discovery of cheese by an Arab trader who used this method of storing milk.

Wow! That answers that question. Or does it?

One thing is for certain, ancient man wasn’t spoon-fed any technology. How many men and women died experimenting with roots, mushrooms and other deadly ingredients? How to know that a stem can cure while the root can kill?

Fascinating. I guess that we can be happy that ancient man wasn’t sitting around wasting time watching TV!



One thought on “Origins

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