Humans have figured out a lot in a short space of time. There is no doubt about that.
However, if you've ever engaged in one of these tasks that takes a lot of finesse and work, you begin to wonder--how DID this process get perfected? How DID we as humans do this?
Here were some of those answers.
Which Seed Is Which?
Coffee. Who thought to pluck the seed from a coffee tree berry, roast it, then grind it, then mix it with boiling water, then filter out the grounds? That process must have taken centuries to perfect.
I actually know this! Goat herders noticed how their goats went nuts after eating the coffee beans, so that's how they figured out what kind of effect coffee has. Things like roasting, grinding, etc. were discovered by trial and error over time.
Spoken language in general. If I utter a lot of noises in a very specific order, you understand my thoughts. I understand evolution, both social and biological, but it still blows my mind.
Thanks, Volcanoes, For The Information
What's inside the earth? I read somewhere that if you imagine the earth as an apple we haven't even drilled past the skin yet, so how do they know?
Continuing Trial And Error
Anything that becomes edible only after several steps like a mushroom you have to boil twice, what was it discovered by a murder on a budget who used the same poison mushroom in 3 pots of tea? Cover it in lye bury it in the ground for a month then it should be good to eat...this fish is deadly except this one tiny bit.
Taking Great Care
The Fugu pufferfish. Contains the world's most powerful neurotoxin, but if you cut that sucker just right, you get tasty-fish that sells for $100 a plate. And the best chefs will be able to taint the meat with just enough tetrodotoxin to give the diner a vague sense of tingling, but not die.
Since 1958, fugu chefs must earn a license to prepare and sell fugu to the public. This involves a two- or three-year apprenticeship. The licensing examination process consists of a written test, a fish-identification test, and a practical test, which requires the test-takers to prepare a dish of fugu and and eating it. Only about 35 percent of the applicants pass. Small miscalculations result in failure or, in rare cases, death.
That's something that we never really figured out, so we invented imaginary numbers to just kinda make sense of certain things. I always imagine it went like this:
"The equation won't balance unless I throw in a root -1! And I can't do that!"
"But we don't get the grant if we don't solve the equation...."
And a week later, a paper on imaginary numbers is published.
It Only Takes A Moment
Tapioca pudding. Raw cassava is poisonous (cyanide) but if you peel it and grind it down it makes tapioca pudding. So how did that happen? How did a person figure out that after cooking it was OK? So maybe some tribe was starving and sitting by a fire and a cassava tuber fell in the fire and after it cooked they said, "F*** it, I'm gonna peel it and eat it." A mystery to me.
Necessity Does A Lot Of Work
Sailing upwind. Sailing with the wind is one thing but how did they ever figure out how to design a boat capable of sailing upwind is beyond me. I understand the physics of why it works however it still baffles me that humans figured that out as early as they did.
When We Could Have Listened
A friend showed me a video on a building that was discovered buried under sand in Spain--I think it was in Spain. Can't remember what it is called. But one of the buildings was so immensely beautiful and detailed. Even the tiled floor had paintings on it that had been preserved over time. Just boggles my mind. They even had an amazing plumbing system and other things you'd never thought was possible for the era it was built. I'll have to find the documentary and link it - it's amazing.
Humans were pretty much all lactose intolerant for a long time, only babies could really drink milk because of feeding.
So at some point, people just said "screw it" and brute forced milk into adult diets. Created cheese and ate so much that a significant portion of the world can now drink it as adults. Even modern lactose intolerant people just do not care and still eat/drink milk and cheese products.