Did ancient humans discover fire as a phenomenon of nature, or did they invent fire as a technology to keep predators away, light the cave, and cook food? The natural phenomenon surely came first, in the form of brush- or forest fires triggered by lightning, or possibly a droplet of water accidentally acting as a lens to concentrate the Sun’s rays on to a piece of dry grass.*
*Dry grass and drops of water are not commonly associated, but perhaps a damp elephant had just emerged from a river crossing on to dry savannah… oh, invent your own explanation.
– on theories |
Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch