• D. Randall Faro

Why'd It Take So Long?

Remains of a Homo sapiens found in Ethiopia have been carbon-dated to be 160,000 years old. According to most accounts, the wheel was invented around 3,500 B.C. Meaning, it took give-or-take 156,500 years before anyone thought of applying circular appendages to pulled carts or riding contraptions.


The modern suitcase supplanted steamer trunks and came into being and common use around the end of the nineteenth century. The attempt at a wheeled suitcase was introduced in 1945, but faded away due to lack of interest. In 1970 Bernard Sadow patented his “rolling luggage” and now suitcases without wheels are unimaginable. My question: why did it take seventy-some years for luggage-luggers to figure out how much easier life would be with wheels added to suitcases?


The 4-string violin was first crafted by Andrea Amati in 1555, but the first piano, built by Bartolomeo Cristofori, didn’t appear until 1700. People have been blind since time immemorial, but reading with the fingertips didn’t come into existence until Louis Braille invented it in 1834. Humanity has been writing for thousands of years, but the ballpoint pen only came into being in 1938 due to Laszlo Biro’s creativity.


Seems like humanity simply – for whatever unexplainable reason – just got off to a slow start. Bean-counters posit that 95% of human knowledge has been realized or discovered somewhere around the last five minutes on a twelve-hour world clock. What took so long? And what might be over the horizon?


Knowledge leads to more knowledge. Also, the more one knows, the more one realizes how much there is to know. (A major theme of Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.) So, one does well to keep an open mind, be inquisitive, be creative, think outside the box, and take risks. It’s a lively way to live. And very often the results make the world a better place for everyone.


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