We’ve returned with your regularly scheduled programming…Things in history that mankind is resurrecting because the time is right again.
The Age of Sail
In the days before the industrial revolution, sail ships dominated international trade and naval mastkicking. Enormous Spanish galleons carried gold, rum, and tobacco from the Caribbean, while more efficient ships like the Dutch fluyt gave their merchants a competitive edge in the global economy. As years progressed rigging became ludicrously elaborate to make full use of the wind’s power until the um, wind shifted in favor of coal-powered ships. From there on out it was fossil fuels for life baby. Ok, and maybe a little nuclear power here and there.
But some things never change. Companies still want to get a competitive edge and have returned to sails to provide it because, like everything else, oil is expensive and finite. Several steps have already been made to supplement ships like having kites help tug them along.
But why use one small kite and when you can use four huge ones permanently attached to the ship?
And not only are sails coming back, but thanks to data and automation, the sails can improve their efficiency drastically by responding to the wind themselves.
Unless you’re a Biblical scholar you’re probably wondering what the hell gleaning is. That’s like what the twilight does in the anthem right? If by twilight you mean a farmer and anthem you mean the Bronze Age then you’re right.
Gleaning was the practice of leaving the edges of farms, orchards, and vineyards unharvested for the poor and any travelers walking past them. It existed for thousands of years as a sort of social safety net and really only ended with industrialization and the establishment of market systems. I’m not sure what it says about inequality today, but we’ve now revived this medieval tradition as a way to feed the poor and eliminate waste.
Mechanical harvesters inherently miss crops in the field or even weirder, some crops are simply deemed too ugly for supermarkets. Therefore anti-poverty organizations have been working with farmers to let people come in and gather the leftovers to avoid waste.
Wan’t to know what Socrates listened to as he fondled the minds of Athenian youth? Or what melodies Aristophanes had his actors sing as they performed fart jokes with turtles. You’d probably think these things were out of reach for even your most studied historian. There were no recordings and not even any kind of standard musical nomenclature we’d be familiar with. You’re wrong.
Researchers, through some combination of madness and genius have brought ancient music back to life by studying the rhythms and syllables in the words and then reconstructing the instruments. It’s mostly a lot of educated guesses and there probably isn’t any way to ever be sure, but that’s also how we figure out what dinosaurs looked like.
The words have preserved the music in much the same way you could figure out the basic melody of a song merely seeing the words written on paper. Combine that with instruments they recreated from descriptions, paintings, and decayed remains and you’ve got a pretty good basis for some literally classical music. If you have an hour of free ear time then give this thing a listen.
If you were a normal kid then you probably loved dinosaurs, and if you grew up anywhere near the 90’s then you probably also loved Jurassic Park, especially the part where they make cloning dinosaurs look as simple as genetic Lincoln logs. Then you probably also grew up jaded and hating science when you were told that that was all bullshit because there’s no way a Jurassic Park could really happen. Well, time to wake your inner-child up and tell them it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned raptor-dodging because science is now heading in that direction.
Ok, so that might be a bit (insanely) optimistic. Scientists are now just pretty sure that we can start bringing extinct species back, like the passenger pigeon and the Woolly mammoth, so that’s pretty cool right? Get ready for some good ol’ fashioned passenger pigeon watching.
But seriously mammoths. Something experts say we’ll be able to see in our lifetimes provided you’re not reading this from a retirement home. Check out this exchange from NPR:
BRAND: Yeah, I think you will get de-extinction zoo, on the way to having de-extinction ecosystems.
RAZ: So Stewart, I mean, what I would not give to see a woolly mammoth or a woolly rhino – who knew even existed.
BRAND: How old are you?
RAZ: I’m in my thirties.
BRAND: You’ll probably see at least a baby woolly mammoth.
RAZ: A baby woolly mammoth in my lifetime?
It’s part of a de-extinction project, where scientists are looking to clone currently extinct species from the DNA they’ve left behind. While bringing mammoths back still presents a challenge, it’s now moved from the realm of fantasy to reality, especially since scientists discovered a fairly well-preserved mammoth this past summer in Siberia. If they can find a living cell in the tissue then we’re totes in business. More likely however, they’ll find an intact nucleus which they’ll then need to engineer into a mammoth cell by way of elephant. It could take awhile, but the plans are on the table and researchers are definitely looking for better ways to do it.
Besides the target goal of mammoths, there are a whole slew of animals scientists are looking to bring back, including the Dodo, the poster-bird of extinction and favorite haakbus target.
And in case you think that scientists are just trying to con optimistic taxpayers like me into funding their Frankenstein experiments, they’ve already managed to bring back a goat and some frogs that went extinct 30 years ago. These guys are not fucking around and one day even hope to have enough resurrected critters to open de-extinction zoos.