A person's life is, at its core, an allotment of time. We each get roughly 80-100 years (hopefully) to enjoy human consciousness.
We spend much of that time interacting with other people enjoying the same gift of life. We form bonds and learn ideas. We even make some of our own ideas and make a few contributions.
And as we spend that time we realize that we are SMALL. Really small.
In relation to the physical universe, of course we're tiny. But we're also small in time.
We spend our life learning about all the other human lives that came before us, and all their ideas and contributions. And we realize so many of the things that define our experience of life have been around for a whole lot longer than we thought.
And then we zoom out even further, and we see how old this planet is, with all these other living things of the past and present.
Make no mistake, so many of the things you touch each and every day are mind-boggingly old. And a recent Reddit thread put it all into perspective.
kakou64 asked, "What's older than we think ?"
"The electric car."
"What is likely the first human-carrying electric vehicle with its own power source was tested along a Paris street in April 1881 by French inventor Gustave Trouvé."
"The first crude electric car was built in the 1830s but it was essentially a semi-functioning model."
"The electric car was a direct competitor to gasoline powered vehicles until the 1920s when roads got better, people started driving further than the range of an electric car, and the world started finding major oil reserves."
The Schweppes Guy...
"The first carbonated drink to be sold to the public was invented by Swiss watchmaker and amateur scientist J. J. Schweppe in 1783, who sold his delicious 'sparkling water' to thirsty customers in Geneva."
"In just seven years, he was doing business so fast that he moved the factory to London and introduced a new flavor, sparkling lemon, to stand out from competitors who were trying to imitate his drink."
"Beer is thought to be older than bread."
"It's much easier to fill a jar with wheat and water, let it ferment, and brew beer than it is to grind grain, mix it, and bake it."
Spark and Fuel
"The fact that the lighter is older than the match shook my head as a kid. It also gave me the curiosity to question things that seems obvious." -- Gyroklovn
"When you think about it, it makes sense. The lighter is a simple mechanical concept: some flammable gas and a spark. The match, on the other hand, is a complex chemical reaction." -- 2RoadsDiverged
Keeping 'Em Moving Since the 1800s
"Escalators have been around since 1859, though they were called rotating stairs." -- KidHarvey
"Yet the US state of Wyoming still only has 2 of them." -- yearof39
"The 1859 design was called revolving stairs, but it was never built. The first working version was built in 1891 by Jesse Reno at Coney Island."
"At least that's what the Lehigh tour guides say." -- Pegasusbishop
"I was really surprised to discover when Oxford university was founded. They don't know the year for sure, but they know there was definitely teaching going on there in 1096." -- princess_mothership
"One of my favorite facts related to this is that Oxford didn't even offer a calculas class for many years after it opened. It predates the invention by almost 600 years" -- Jimothy_McGowan
Taking Care of Business
"Fax Machines. They were invented in 1843. Before the telephone." -- Darpyface
"Came for this one. To put this in perspective, tumbleweeds aren't native to the American southwest, but by a quirk of history we know exactly which shipment of flax from Ukraine brought their seeds to the US... in 1877."
"Commercial fax service has been around longer than tumbleweeds in the American southwest." -- raygundan
Never Too Early for Good Design
"The ancient Romans (well, the wealthy ones) had central heating in their homes. You can actually still see the pipes in some of the buildings at Herculaneum!" -- jazzman0116
"On top of that, if you ever get the chance to see how Roman homes were designed (window placement, ceilings, etc.) to naturally cool themselves... it's nothing short of incredible." -- Mu-Relay
Claim to Fame
"Flushing toilets date all the way back to the Indus River Valley civilization, back in 2000 BC" -- steveguyhi1243
"Dude, I don't know anything else about the Indus valley civilization other than the f***ing plumbing, Indian history text books would not shut up about it."
"When I was a kid I used to wonder why are they still talking about the plumbing, there had to be something more interesting happening there other than people taking a sh** and then washing themselves in the intricate public pools while their shit is being transported by always flowing sewers."
"Then I found out that that's all we know about those f***ers. Nothing else survived that was worth taking about other than the f***ing plumbing." -- another_one_bites459
Not Horrifying, Just Old
"Sharks. Sharks as a family are older than trees" -- PmMeUrBoobsPorFavor
"The oldest evidence puts sharks in an era where the only multicellular plant was algae." -- QuiGonJism
"I knew they were old, but damn not that old! I looked it up, and fossils are said to be around 450 million y/o. My contribution to this thread was Ferns (359 million y/o), but sharks are another 100 mill before that."
"Mind = blown." -- Master_of_Rivendell
No Car Door to Shut it In Back Then Either
"The Aux connector that we still use for headphones and speakers was invented in 1877."
"There have been improvements since, but the basics of it are pretty much the same."
What a Year
"National Geographic was founded in 1888" -- limgly
"Yes! I looked through the very first national geographic book and compared it to their most recent magazine and it was INSANE. Back then there were little to no pictures and it was so interesting how they conducted their experiments." -- kathypop4
"Same year as Fosters and Jack the Ripper." -- AngloBeaver
Didn't Even Celebrate the Centennial
I was shocked to learn that Oreos predate chocolate chip cookies, sliced bread, and my 100 year old Great Grandmother." -- TheSilentShane
"You're going to make me Google the year, aren't you? 1912 for those wondering." -- yingyangyoung
"Whoa, Oreos predate insulin. Makes sense." -- CodaMo
"The name Tiffany."
"It dates back to the 12th century, and has actually led to a thing in writing called 'the Tiffany problem,' because you can have a well-researched historical novel that people just don't buy into, because you named your 12th century peasant Tiffany."
"It just sounds laughably anachronistic."
Would Not Have Been the First to Try Those
"Leonardo da Vinci had the idea of contact lenses in 1508 and the first successful contact lenses were made in 1888."
"Ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids. The Ancient Egyptians were as old to the Ancient Romans as the Ancient Romans are to us." -- trespuntoslikespider
"Cleopatra is chronologically closer to us than she is to when the Pyramids were built." -- I_hate_traveling
"Woolly Mammoths were still alive during the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza."
"They died out about a millennium after its completion." -- Equiliari
First Things First
"Your nipples are older than your teeth." -- Mycolunchable
"My f***ing teeth feel itchy now..." -- masheduppotato
"I'm not sure if that information is useful but hey you learn something new everyday." -- Avoroi
Rickety Old Flights
"Commercial aircraft. Most are 10 - 15 years old yet a lot of people think they get replaced like cars."
"They are still very safe though despite their age."
Far Reaching Impacts
"A large portion of Autism spectrum disorders."
"About 40 percent of them have been in human genetics since around 14000 B.C.E. God damn genetic bottleneck causing super volcano eruption."
What Was It For Beforehand?
"The Stanley Cup. It predates the NHL, and if you look at the history of teams that have won it, there is a year where it wasn't awarded due to the Spanish Flu pandemic."
"The top of it is the original trophy, but the rings on the bottom are replaced every couple of years when they fill up with names."
Don't Fix What Ain't Broke I Guess
"Law. Roman law was so advanced that there are still large chunks of statutes (in civil law countries) taken pretty much directly from Roman codici written 1500-2000 years ago."
"Important maritime laws are adaptations of medieval provisions. Lots of business law statutes borrow heavily from Napoleonic laws. In common law countries, you find stuff like the Statute of Marlborough from the 1200s, still in effect. Along with still relevant case law from the 1700s."
The Old Way of the Spores
"Ferns!!! The Fern (class Polypodiopsida) class of nonflowering vascular plants that possess true roots, stems, and complex leaves and that reproduce by spore constitute an ancient division of vascular plants..."
"...some of them as old as the Carboniferous Period (beginning about 358.9 million years ago) and perhaps older. Their type of life cycle, dependent upon spores for dispersal, long preceded the seed-plant life cycle."
"For comparison, that puts them about 113 million years older than non-bird dinosaurs, which lived between about 245 and 66 million years ago."
"Domesticated dogs. The relationship of humans living with dogs (or some kind of domesticated wolf creature) dates back over 15,000 years. Some of the earliest known fossils of Homo sapiens are found with dog bones."
"Essentially, the bond between man and dog goes back farther than we can even document."
Cause for Hope?
"The idea that everything's getting worse and that the world's coming to an end soon."
"Sure, there's new vocabulary and new science involved, but people have been sounding that pessimistic alarm throughout history."
We're Just One Arrangement
"You. By the law of conservation of mass--'no mass can be created or lost simply moved or changed into something else'--your body and all inside of it and everything in the universe for that matter has been around since the very start."
"Only in random atoms etc and when we die our bodies are recycled back into the universe to be made into something cool. Like cow poo."
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