Posted by: Brad Nixon | January 26, 2018

Crown of Creation: Humans Reach the Pinnacle of Technological Advancement.

Human development is marked by impressive advancements in the use of tools and technology. Our powerfully creative imaginations continually fashion ever more complex means to survive and thrive. That imaginative spark may define the very concept of “human.”

It began, in fact, with a literal spark. Somewhere between 1 million and 100,000 years ago, we figured out how to generate and — to some degree — control fire.

Candle Brad Nixon 9165 (640x480)

The controlled deployment of combustion — often in highly specialized ways — is an inherent part of our advanced civilization.

Even earlier, some distant ancestors began using sticks and stones to help them perform  tasks, and by at least 2.6 million years ago, someone in Ethiopia shaped a hand axe rather than simply using a rock. Since then, the imagination of Homo sapiens has never ceased developing more complex and better tools. I probably own at least a couple hundred tools.

Tools Brad Nixon 9159 (640x543)

Thanks to the unceasing brilliance of human ingenuity, no matter how many tools I have, the one that fastens this screw into that hole always seems to be one I don’t possess.

Screws by Brad Nixon 9169 (640x480)

Humans invented the wheel (see “combustion” photo above), then, not satisfied with using fire to generate steam that drove machinery, employed steam-driven wheels to generate electricity. Wheels still turn today, powering our energy-hungry culture.

San Gorgonio Brad Nixon 6289 (640x368)

That power we generate has been applied in astoundingly diverse ways, including — within my lifetime — advanced machines with yet-untold potential.

UWS Dani 5751 (640x480)

As humans developed all these things, they needed ways to carry their belongings wherever they went. We wove baskets at least 10,000 years ago, although baskets are perishable, and may have been in use as long as pottery, which dates to perhaps 18,000 years ago. From traditional crafts surviving in many cultures to mass produced wares, we still make pots to put things in.

Today …

Our world is woven of the myriad threads of invention, beginning with fire and tools, wheels and machines: a warp and weft of of incredible diversity. Our interconnected, always-on, always-evolving society lets us command the resources of the entire world via electricity (generated by fire and wheels) that powers our computers. We no longer hunt to survive, fewer of us farm, and with increasing regularity we avoid traffic, shopping malls and that trip to the drugstore. We order something we need, and it’s routed to us by vast networks of communication, logistics, supply chains and transportation.

The product arrives, enclosed in the ne plus ultra of containers, direct descendant of those ancient baskets and pots, itself the product of a complex nexus of technologies and resources:

Box Brad Nixon 9163 (640x533)

Whatever’s inside is now ours. Astounding, isn’t it? We did not design or make it: We simply sent for it.

There’s one problem. Or, rather, one of many possible problems:

It doesn’t fit. The color doesn’t match the wallpaper. I don’t like the way the buttons work. We found a cheaper one — not even used — on Craigslist. It has to go back. Or maybe we’ll send it to your cousin in Des Moines; she said she wanted one, didn’t she? She’ll be tickled pink.

Now … Use the Tool!

Because we’re humans, residing at the apex of millions of years of evolution, mutation and adaptation, we have a tool … the tool. This is the tool that, ultimately, gives us complete control of our world and separates us from slime mold and sea slugs, butterflies and bald eagles, from aardvarks, auks, zebras and zygospores.

Dispenser Brad Nixon 9162 (640x535)

The item goes back in the box, we strap it in and send it back. Finis! The circle of creation is complete.

Once word of our achievement in creating the shipping tape dispenser spreads across the solar system and into distant space, it will indicate to the watchers whose UFOs have kept tabs on us for thousands of years that now, finally, we are ready to take our place among the advanced civilizations of the cosmos.

Watch the skies.

Don’t have one? You will. Check your next Amazon shipment to see if the color matches the wallpaper.

Photo notes.

The burned landscape shows Mesa Verde National Park several years after a significant wildfire. The wind turbines are in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California, with Mt. San Gorgonio in the background. The blackware pot is contemporary work in a long tradition by Stella Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. The dinnerware is American Modern by the American designer, Russel Wright, circa 1938.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. So, should the designers of tools hold a higher place in society? Whether it’s the Wright brothers and their flying machine or Leo Fender and his Telecaster guitar, where would we be without the designers?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have several shipping tape dispensers. I also have several Allen/hex wrenches, each of which I have used only once. This is because every time I buy a kitchen or bathroom fixture, it calls for the use of an Allen wrench that I do not have. I am then required to go to the hardware store to buy a new one. Aren’t advances in technology great?


  3. I’ve been sitting here trying to decide which of my tools deserves to be named “favorite.” There are plenty that are useful, and a few that are indispensable, but favorite? I finally decided it might be a tie between my computer and my juicer. Not having to squeeze dozens of oranges by hand has a lot going for it.


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