It may seem strange end this series on something as simple as the wheel. I certainly covered science and technology in a couple of ways during the early days, but the wheel is special, and if fire is the basis for our technology, in many ways the wheel is its true inspiration.
Capturing fire was all about survival, making it through the cold season with all of your body parts intact, killing the parasites in our food, and pushing the predators further back into the darkness because a lot of things that might’ve liked to eat us are a little more primitive a don’t appreciate fire all that much.
Some of the early bits of technology, wood based things like spear heads, we hardened with the fire. But that was about survival, too, since a fire-hardened spear wouldn’t break as easily, it was less likely to let us down on the hunt. Most early technology was about survival, really, with a little bit of personal adornment and decoration.
The wheel, on the other hand, was potentially the first invention, the first piece of technology that came along specifically to make things better, easier. To be able to do bigger and better things, to move bigger things and change what we could do.
The wheel led, eventually, to pulleys. Pulleys led to gears. Gears led to clockwork and ever finer details. Clockwork, I would argue, led to the great deal mechanical engineering bled over into early electronics. And electronics, more or less, have given us what we consider the modern world.
The wheel, along the small handful of other basic devices, gave us the world, and are slowly giving us the universe.
So yes, I am absolutely grateful for the wheel.
Be well, everyone.by