The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The amazing bow and arrow

I'd like to re-visit a subject I have touched on before: bows and arrows [See the last paragraph here].

I don''t really have anything new to add but I would like to go into more detail. The reason for this is an argument I had with a friend last week. The argument started out with a simple question. I asked him, "Have you ever wondered about the origin of the bow and arrow?" I spoke a little about how other tools and weapons came from nature and were enhanced through trial and error. Spears, clubs, hammers, knives, etc. began as natural things: sticks, bones, sharp edged plants or rocks, gave birth to many of these. And the spear was/is part of the bow and arrow. The bow is simply a way to throw a small spear (the arrow) a greater distance and with more force over that distance than an arm can.  To do it, though, one must think in a very abstract fashion. The concept is complex:

A piece of wood, bent against its natural form, with a strong string of some kind (likely first made from animal tendon), stores the power from the initial bend and then that potential power is increased by pulling back the string and bending the "stick" even more. It is stored energy. Stored first in the manufacture of the bow and then added to and stored by drawing the string back.

I have wracked my brain trying to think of what, in nature, might have given primitive man the idea for the bow and arrow. But I cannot think of anything. I can think of bent branches which might give rise to the concept of stored energy... bend this and it springs back when released... and that could give rise to the concept of a catapult. But adding a string from which to use that stored energy?

Why does this stress me so? I don't know. It's a puzzle and I am drawn to puzzles.

Most people think the wheel or fire (actually, the ability to create a fire) were man's pivotal inventions. I don't. I think the bow and arrow was the most important invention in the development of homo sapiens.

And not all the groups of man discovered this. For instance, the bushmen of Australia never used bows. Or abandoned them in favor of using a notched stick to extend the range of a spear. But the bow and arrow, beginning in southern Africa about 64,000 years ago according to this article, is found all over the world in almost every civilization.

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