Sep 23, 2015
The desire to trace our way back to the very beginning has lead to unprecedented discoveries. Today, three stories that give us a surprisingly intimate peek into the life, and death, of those who came before.
First, scientists' obsession with one particular man - and with the tiny scraps of evidence left in the wake of his death - gives us a surprisingly intimate peek into the life of someone who should've been lost to the ages.Botanist Jim Dickson, graphic artist Aaron Birk, and Albert Zinc, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, describe how scientific advances and modern forensic breakthroughs have uncovered an ancient tale of violence and humanity.
Second, the story of one little thing that has radically changed what we know about humanity’s humble beginnings and the kinds of creatures that were out to get us way back when. Wits University Professor Lee Berger and Dr. Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum explain how a child’s skull, found in an ancient cave, eventually helped answer one of our oldest questions: Where do we come from?
Lastly, Jad and Robert talk to a writer who is grappling with versions of the same enormous question: is it possible to understand everything, or are we chasing an impossible dream... one built on questions that always lead to more questions?
BONUS: We made 3-D print of the Taung Child skull. If you visit our page on Thingiverse, you’ll see the results. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can print their own copy of the skull. (We printed a bunch, with help from our friends at MakerBot—there’s even a purple one with sparkles.)
We also collaborated with the folks at Mmuseumm, a tiny (really tiny, it’s in an elevator shaft) museum in Manhattan. You can visit them to see the 3D printed skull, along with the other wonderful things in their collection: mosquitoes swatted mid-bite, toothpaste tubes from around the world, and much more.
Thanks to JP Brown, Emily Graslie and Robert Martin at the Field Museum in Chicago for scanning the skull. Thanks to Curtis Schmitt and shootdigital for refining the scan. Thanks to Bre Pettis and Jenifer Howard at MakerBot for guiding us through the world of 3D printing.