whoever denies this, supplies it
(originally posted 2/9/2019)
I’m inviting you to sit back and learn a little history. If you are wise, you will decline this invitation because, to be honest, my history is little rusty. If you decide to keep reading… well, that’s on you.
Our story starts around 5,000 B.C. somewhere in Mesopotamia. A man, having recently discovered a large meteorite, is about to have an idea so brilliant that it will change the world forever.
Well, to clarify a bit, the idea itself isn’t particularly brilliant but it accidentally leads to a brilliant idea. Sort of like how penicillin came about. I’m pretty sure anyway… like I said, my history is a bit rusty.
Which is a bit ironic given the subject matter has to do with iron.
But anyway, there was this man named Brett. Just Brett. So right there you have a bit of interesting trivia. A person with only a first name predating Beyonce, Sting and Cher by 7,000 years. Probably the first person to just use a first name. Only three paragraphs in and you have learned something.
Anyway (again), Brett had seen the meteorite fall to Earth and had tracked it down and unearthed it. For days he sat in his hut and stared at the giant space rock and wondered what it meant. Like any good Sumerian, not Samaritan (an easy mistake to make), he was always looking out for ways to help his fellow man. I admit, the two sound strikingly similar and if I was to research it I might even find that the biblical passage that made “good Samaritan” a household expression refers to a Sumerian but frankly I don’t care that much.
Sorry, I have a tale to tell and only a few more words to tell it.
Anyway (for a third and final time… I hope), Brett ended up thinking that this hunk of heavy rock falling from the sky was a sign. At first he didn’t know for what so he plopped down and gave it some serious thought. Eventually he decided that the meteorite was a sign that Brett should figure out a way to retrace the path of the meteorite and find out where it came from. A pretty rough task back in 5,000 B.C. let me tell you.
But Brett was full of childlike wonder and was just dripping with what we would later term ‘the right stuff’ so, although the mathematics behind it wouldn’t be postulated until 1676 A.D. by Robert Hooke, he invented the helical spring.
Sort of. In his head. The basic idea anyway.
He didn’t quite hammer out the specifics, i.e. that the force with which the spring pushes back is linearly proportional to the distance from its equilibrium length, but suddenly he had a very clear idea of what he needed to do. Showing you didn’t need to be Robert Hooke to postulate things, he postulated that a meteorite that was telling people to come for a visit would certainly contain within it everything that the human race would need to make that trip happen.
So Brett invented smelting. Not some guy in Serbia. Not some guy in Turkey. Brett. Brett invented smelting. He did it so he could melt down the meteorite and create the giant springs that he would need to reach outer space.
Showing that you don’t need to be a roadrunner-obsessed coyote to come up with a truly bad idea.
Once he realized that his meteorite didn’t contain enough of the metal we would later dub iron he went to Eridu and spoke with the leader of that city-state about it. He postulated, presenting would have been a better idea but once he got a taste of postulating he developed a real appetite for it, to the leader that for him to build the size springs he would need to attach to his feet, leap off a mountain and launch himself on the path to visiting the starting point of the meteorite he would need to collect hundreds if not thousands of such rocks. Asking for the leader’s assistance in this endeavor, he promised untold riches for the citizens of Eridu upon his return.
The leader listened intently then asked Brett some questions about smelting. Brett tried to show him some crude drawings of how he would look with the giant springs attached to his feet but the leader kept circling back to the smelting thing. Even when Brett was describing what he felt the far-off land he would be bouncing to would look like, the leader was wearing a “so tell me more about this smelting” look on his face.
Eventually Brett was dismissed and told that the leader would have a decision for him in a few days.
The leader did not follow through with that promise. In fact, to make sure that Brett was driven out from decent society the leader invented the phrase “Whoever smelt it, dealt it” and from that point on Brett was blamed for every fart in Mesopotamia. He was so ashamed that he fled and later died trying to launch himself to the Land of Meteorites. He sat bravely atop two hundred foot tall springs just before his demise.
Ok, I made up that last part.
But Brett did invent the helical spring and smelting.
Now do your part and imagine him sitting atop two hundred foot tall springs.