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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Microstory 308: Fire

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Shelter

The first time our ancestors saw fire was the first time they looked to the sky during the day. There is a bunch of science going on that makes fire burn. But at the core of it, all heat is the same thing; excited atoms and molecules moving around so fast that energy is released. The faster these atoms move, the more energy they release, and if you excite them enough, fire will be created. This is why friction can assist in the creation of fire. You don’t need some kind of liquid fuel; you don’t need matches; you don’t even need flint and steel. If you want to build a fire, you’re going to need something that’s really good at burning, and then apply intense friction to it. Wood is a good option because it’s rather abundant, and even though it requires a lot of effort, it doesn’t require much knowledge. Fire is one of the most useful elements in existence. It cooks food, which burns off possible pathogens, releases certain otherwise unrealized nutrients, and makes meals taste better. We have yet to encounter evidence of a civilization that did not cook food. Fire also produces warmth, and discourages dangerous animals. Modern humans have innovated further with fire and combustion to make their lives more efficient and convenient. Experts have uncovered evidence, however, that primates first controlled fire nearly two million years ago. This means that one of the first things we did after deciding to stand upright was to recreate the sun and forest fires towards our own end. Fire is not only a personal need, but a cultural one. It was an early step in the advancement of the human race; an undeniable sign of intelligence. If you ever meet an alien, the first thing you should do is demonstrate your basic comprehension of fire.

Instinct

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