Wayfarer- The ingenuity of humans who have had to adapt

The ingenuity of living creatures is perhaps well known. Think of the seabirds who lift shells and drop them on hard surfaces in the hope of cracking them open to access the food within.

Nature provides, but all living creatures have to apply their own ingenuity to preserve life. Now humans with what is thought to be greater brain power have perhaps adapted to life better than others. That is debatable, but with the advantage of hands that can use tools efficiently we do have an advantage. Consider the following tale regarding the iron hand of Clephanes of Carslogie who lost his left hand at the battle of Bannockburn.

He was a friend and confident of Robert the Bruce who ordered that a hand be designed to allow his friend some compensation particularly to be able to open and close his hand so as to hold a horse’s reigns. This iron hand was described in Sir Walter Scott’s book on ‘Border Antiquities’ in 1814.

In 1972 John Andrew of Glasgow filled the boot of his car with batteries, mounted fans on the roof of his car and also on the wing mirrors to charge the batteries as he drove to work each morning. He considered that a 100 mile run provided his house with enough electricity for thirty hours of use.

However, he was apprehended and taken to court as the wing mounted fans were considered to be a potential danger to other drivers. The judge complimented John Andrew for the ingenuity of his roof mounted fan, but fined him £95 for the hazard of the wing mounted fans. So there you are John Andrew’s ingenuity did not pay off, but you must admire him for his efforts.

The Post Office was always on the lookout for ways to improve its service to some of the islands in Scotland and in 1934 approved the idea of German scientist Gerhard Zucker in using rockets. The island of Scarp half a mile off the west coast of Harris was chosen as the test site and some 1,200 letters addressed to the inhabitants were packed into a metre long rocket to be fired over the sea where it would be taken to the local post office for distribution. Unfortunately the rocket exploded in mid-air scattering its contents over the beach at Scarp. Undaunted a second trial was attempted unfortunately with the same result, but whilst this idea met with failure, progress is only obtained by constantly trying out new methods and should be encouraged. We should not leave it to other animals to show us the way.

See you next week.