Making Better Wepons

ScienceDaily (Jun. 11, 2008) — In today's fast-paced, technologically advanced world, people often take the innovation of new technology for granted without giving much thought to the trial-and-error experimentation that makes technology useful in everyday life. When the "cutting-edge" technology of the bow and arrow was introduced to the world, it changed the way humans hunted and fought. University of Missouri archaeologists have discovered that early man, on the way to perfecting the performance of this new weapon, engaged in experimental research, producing a great variety of projectile points in the quest for the best, most effective system.

"Technological innovation and change has become a topic that interests people," said R. Lee Lyman, professor and chair of the University of Missouri Department of Anthropology. "When the bow and arrow appeared in North America, roughly 1,500 years ago, it eventually replaced the atlatl (spear thrower) and dart. The introduction of the bow and arrow, a different weapon delivery system, demanded some innovative thinking and technology. In other words, one could not just shoot a dart from a bow. Components like the shaft and arrow point needed to be reinvented." . . .

"Everyone is looking for the better mouse trap," Lyman said. "Once a change is made in one variable, it may prompt changes in another variable because the two are mechanically linked. For example, if something gets longer, generally, it will get heavier. This is called a cascade effect. This, in combination with experimentation, resulted in the tremendous variation in projectile points." (Full Story at sd)

On the surface of things this study seems like a complete waste of time. Of course they worked on making their tools better, but I would find it interesting to see the process they went through. What did they start with and what did they try? Do you think it would vary much from the things you or I would try? How much did their previous tools color their perception on what would work?